2012 Ballet-in-a-Box Tour
For the second season in a row, in addition to plie-ing, tendu-ing and pirouetting, we are clucking, mooing and meowing. Billy’s Dancing Dairy Farm, part of the Community Outreach program offerings, is on tour to schools, libraries and community centers throughout southeastern Wisconsin now through February 17. The show debuted last Wednesday at ALBA School, one of our Relevé partner schools, and the “oooohhs” and “aaaaaaahhs” at all of the turns, jumps and lifts were music to our ears.
The dancers of The Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program have truly made this show their own this year. Rehearsals for the “Dairy Farm” began sporadically in November and in the last few days before winter break, we were able to run it all the way through – acting included. Once the MBIIs returned from break, they had just over a week to polish and clean up the show – getting it ready for school gymnasiums full of excited children.
If you haven’t seen the show – it follows the story of Billy McMichaels who lives on the Dancing Cow Dairy Farm in Northern Wisconsin. He goes to see his sister’s ballet recital and is so riveted by what he sees on stage that he starts to dream about ballet and eventually starts seeing the animals on the farm dancing their way through his days. Billy tries to give this new interest up, especially after his friends catch him twirling around in the barn; but with the assistance of a dancing chicken and Lulu (a cute little friend of his sister’s) he continues to study and convinces his friends that dancing isn’t so bad. Led by Farmer Thom or Milkmaid Lauren (depending on which cast you see) the dancers pantomime the acting while the narrator tells us about Billy’s doubts and dreams.
As these young dancers learned from both Dracula and The Nutcracker, acting is almost as important as dancing when you work for Michael Pink. Michael knows that ballet is up against everything else when it comes to people’s entertainment choices – TV, movies, XBOX, Wii, professional sports, even ice-skating across the street from the Marcus Center at Red Arrow Park. He wants ballet to feel real so that when you watch it, you aren’t thinking, why did a ballerina just interrupt the party scene in The Nutcracker? Rather, that looks a lot like my own house on Christmas – kids running around, adults mingling, grandparents sharing a traditional dance… On a smaller scale, Billy’s Dancing Dairy Farm brings that same Nutcracker-mix of magic and reality together into a story that children can easily relate to while still piquing their imaginations and tickling their funny bones.
This story was after all, loosely based on one of our former dancers (Michael Linsmeier) who grew up on a dairy farm outside of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. When like. I got inspired all over again in those two days – it’s an incredibly special place. I saw chickens who just may have learned ballet steps from one of Michael’s sisters and I saw a few feisty barn cats who definitely resembled Puss in Boots!
I can tell you from our first two shows this week that the MBIIs are putting together all of their tools – ballet and contemporary technique, theatrical approaches to their roles and the fun and inventive spirit necessary to bring the story to life whether they’re playing tough jocks, dancing mice, a bratty sister or coy farm cats. They have made this their own show – not merely a copy of last year, but truly their own production – locally grown and delivered.Michael was in town to see Dracula this fall, I had the opportunity to go visit THE dairy farm! While there I learned about their heirloom apples (and then fed them to the pigs), I drove a tractor and helped feed a baby calf! The script of the show ran through my head as I milked a cow and collected eggs. It was a surreal and inspiring experience! Having imagined and romanticized the farm so much in my own head, I wondered what it would really be
We have one public showing of Billy’s Dancing Dairy Farm at the Franklin Public Library on February 4th at 10:30 a.m. Join us!
Director of Education