Happy summer, ballet fans! Time for our first update of this hot and happening time of year…
Milwaukee Ballet's Summer Intensive Program started on Monday morning with 135 students from all over the country (and the world!). The tireless School staff has spent months preparing for the program from auditioning students all over the country, to ordering buses and collecting medical forms, hiring chaperones and talking parents through the jitters of sending their kids off to Milwaukee for the summer. The hallways are peppered with dance bags, and during lunch time you find yourself walking through a veritable obstacle course of leotards and legs. The first week of the program is a fun, frenzied whirlwind of excitement as everyone, teachers and students alike, adjust to their daily schedules (4 dance classes and then rehearsal, 9 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. each day). By next week, this will be normal to all of them. The Summer Intensive is just that – intense! You really do see these dancers transform in such a short amount of time. They are essentially getting six months of training in six weeks (hour for hour, based on our Academy schedule!) Now that is some serious dancing. I’ll be updating you more throughout the summer on their progress but in the meantime, welcome young dancers!
The Relevé Summer Scholarship Program also started on Monday. For four weeks throughout the summer, the Community Outreach Department offers summer ballet for our Relevé students from ALBA, Allen-Field and Dover Elementary Schools. Two of the weeks are open to all of the students who participate in the program throughout the school year (190 kids – boys and girls!) Our scholarship program, however, is for exceptional 4th and 5th graders who have shown us a passion and potential for ballet; they come here for a two week mini-intensive designed to help them transition into the Milwaukee Ballet School summer maintenance class in August and hopefully into being fully enrolled ballet students in the fall. Run by Lori Flanigan and assisted by Tori Zures, these kids are bused to the studios for two and a half hours of study: stretch class, a full ballet class and a ballet history workshop with me. This week our scholarship students are a corps of ladies from all three schools and they are a hard working bunch! With a ballet studio to themselves and the attention of our fantastic teachers, the girls are really getting the chance to improve. We’ve had fun in ballet history too – this week we’re learning all about Marius Petipa and his reign at the Imperial Ballet in Russia in the 1850’s! We just designed ballet logos after talking about the balletomanes of this time period and comparing them to sports fans today. The picture at the top of this blog is Gabriela’s awesome Milwaukee Ballet logo!
Last week, four of our dancers (Company dancer Alexandre Ferreira and MBIIs Michael Agudelo, Bea Castañeda and Chiharu Yamamoto) competed in the Boston International Ballet Competition and we are so proud to report that all of them finished in the top 10! Go Milwaukee Ballet! There were 45 competitors in the senior category (23 boys and 22 girls, 19-25 years old). The competition is a killer; dancers are assigned to learn at least five pieces from a list of specific repertoire. Our dancers worked on this rep during Peter Pan and then as soon as that show closed, they’ve been in the studios working with Michael Pink, Rolando Yanes, Mireille Favarel, Karl vonRabenau and other Company dancers for help and coaching. All four dancers made it through the first and second rounds; Chiharu and Alex made it to the third round (at that point there were 5 girls left and 4 boys) in which each had to dance three pieces. While they didn’t win the whole thing, Alex was invited to another competition in Berlin and they were all seen by an international group of professional dancers, teachers and artists. I spoke with Bea and Chiharu about this and they both felt it was absolutely worth the hard work and the nerve wracking stress.
Chiharu told me, “I was stressed out. I was nervous. Before I went to the competition I thought, ‘I don’t know if I really want to do this, but after, I was like, yes! I want to do it again! Watching the other dancers made me want to be a better dancer like them. By round 3, I could just relax and enjoy dancing on stage!”
Bravo dancers! Enjoy the hot weather everyone; in the meantime, we’ll be burning the floor!
Nicole Teague and Alexandre Ferreira. Photo: Brian Lipchik.
Director of Community Outreach