And once again, the building is quiet… The whirlwind of Milwaukee Ballet’s Summer Intensive Program is over, seemingly as quick as it started. As we prepare ourselves for a new season, the students who spent the summer here are back at home doing the same – 19 of them are getting ready for their return to Milwaukee as part of our Milwaukee Ballet II program. But before I get ahead of myself…
The summer program showcase, Emergence, last Friday at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, was a powerful display of six weeks of hard work. The show, in two acts, featured the younger students progressively by level and act two featured the older students in levels three, four and five. The style class pieces, African, Musical Theatre and Spanish were a fun detour from the six ballet pieces. In particular Reverance and Jubilation – Level Five’s African pieced choreographed by Roxy Kess – a spiritual and joyous celebration that was strong and truly heartfelt. When I watched it backstage during the second show, the bond these kids have made with each other was evident - cheering, shaking and clapping, high fives and hugs were all happening in the wings as dancers made their way on and offstage.
The real strength of the show though, was contained in each of the ballet pieces; each teacher carefully demonstrated the growth of the students in very specific ways. MBII graduate Kristin Herlache, set a section of Swan Lake Act II giving the girls an opportunity to dance in a classical corps de ballet; School Director Rolando Yanes choreographed a lovely piece called Alegria (“happiness” in Spanish) in Coppélia peasant costumes with a ladies corps of interchanging lines and formations making way for three couples, young dancers learning the particulars of partnering. Monica Isla’s Bach in Movement was very impressive. All three boys in this dance looked strong and prepared, from our own Acee Laird whose aptitude as a dancer has exploded in the four short years he’s been studying ballet, and especially Christian and Micah Chermak who are both new to ballet, coming here to hone their ballet technique before returning to the dance program at UW-Stevens-Point. Denis Malinkine’s Divertimento Grazioso was a gorgeous display of classical ballet. So many dancers stood out in this piece – lead girls Rie Aoki, Yayoi Shigekia and Haruka Yoshida with their impeccable technique demonstrated an ease and effortless flow of beautiful movement. Rei Masatomi literally flew through the air during his solo, finishing dramatically with a confidence some dancers never find. Both the corps and the couples were focused and precise yet the group as a whole was able to evoke the emotional heart of this work. Nadia Thompson’s And Beyond, set to an earthy Rene Aubrey score with a Latin feel to it, showed a group of students truly emerging, some of whom are clearly ready to cross into the professional world. The stark silhouettes of Stéphano Candreva and Bea Castañeda who opened the piece, set a tone that told the audience, this was not just a recital piece; Nadia set a sophisticated and sensual work giving the dancers material that required maturity and strong technique. In pieces like Denis’ and Nadia’s, dancers learn that they must have presence, endurance and confidence – all things they will need to make it as professional dancers.
Dancers from both technique levels four and five were chosen to be a part of the 2010-11 Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program. The disastrous flood that hit Milwaukee on Thursday night, July 22nd prevented us from handing out Milwaukee Ballet II acceptance letters on Friday as classes were cancelled so we could clean up the building. Just another level of drama to an already dramatic weekend! Director Rolando Yanes tracked everyone down on Saturday and gave the dancers their letters and a chance to consult with their families in order to plan the next hectic month of their lives – home, packing up, saying goodbyes and a move back to Milwaukee for the 2010-11 season - all in a 30 day turnaround time. This was a tough program to get into this year. Returning to MBII from last season are dancers Erica Alvarado, Megan Baker, Elizabeth Glander, Victoria Zures and Barry Molina. With the pool of talent in the summer program and our recent accreditation into the National Association of Schools of Dance (which gives us the ability to offer visas to international students) we have a skilled and exciting group of dancers starting in the fall.
Contracts were offered to the following dancers:
Stéphano Candreva, Brazil
Bea Castañeda, The Phillippines
Thom Dancy, Oklahoma
Emily DeLay, Minnesota
Camila Gomes, Brazil
Kotomi Hoshino, Japan
Marie Jeruc, Wisonsin (graduate of Milwaukee Ballet School)
Sam Neale, Australia
Emily Reed, Illinois
Evan Reynolds, Wisconsin (graduate of Milwaukee Ballet School)
Jenna Sagraves, Georgia
Caitlin Sullivan, Illinois
Kana Suto, Japan
Chiharu Yamamoto, Japan
Congratulations to these young dancers! And bravo to the students and faculty of Milwaukee Ballet’s School’s Summer Intensive Program. I had a wonderful time watching and writing about these emerging artists. Ballet continues to impress me and provoke my thoughts; and each facet of it – from the training ground at Milwaukee Ballet School to the costume shop to the view from the box seats - reminds me why I love it so much.
Director of Education