I’m writing to you from the cafeteria of Allen-Field Elementary School, where in just a few minutes, this year’s group of dancers from the Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program will transform into superheroes for the second season of our Ballet-in-a-Box production of “The Corps of 4 in ‘Dr. Injury Returns!’” The dancers got here at 7:45 a.m. and I think it was two degrees outside. Talk about an initiation into a Wisconsin winter! We might consider calling this the Polar Vortex Tour 2014.
As part of this program, we travel to about 20 schools – from MPS partner schools to Brookfield Academy, from right in our neighborhood to as far as Racine. The dancers came bundled up but bright-eyed and ready to unpack the SIVA truck and turn the gym into a mini theatre. Four rolls of marley, a sound system, pipe and drape curtains, costumes, floor tape, props, set pieces… So far, so good.
This is impressive all on its own, but it’s not all the MBIIs have on their plate. On Saturday, they return to the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center for their annual main stage performance. While I was watching the final run-through of the SMPAC repertoire yesterday I was so impressed. I’ve been working with these young dancers all season, but I hadn’t yet seen any of the pieces they’ve been preparing for this weekend’s show. And let me tell you – you are in for a treat! This show encompasses everything that the Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program is all about: classical technique, new choreography, pushing artistry to the limits, getting out of one’s comfort zone, the transformation of students into budding professionals.
You have to come to this show. Though they have another in-studio performance at the end of the season, this is the one that really counts. The rep is varied and challenging. There are some classics on the program, a pas de trois from "Le Corsaire" and an impressive pas de deux from "La Esmeralda" and a restaging of Michael Pink’s "Aubade." This work is difficult but beautiful with a corps of men heading off to work while three pretty ladies in shades of flowing green dresses lament the separation. The opening number and the closer come to us from our Choreographers-in-Residence, Petr Zahradnícek and Timothy O’Donnell, respectively.
Petr has crafted a delightful work called “Another Show” to the music of Cole Porter, arranged and played live by our principal accompanist Dan Boudewyns. He’ll be tickling the ivories in a tux while the dancers give us a glimpse into the life of a performer and all that goes with it – the drama, the ups, the downs, the romance, the swooning… It all rings true for what really happens to them, but with a polish and flair fitting for the music.
Timothy O’Donnell’s "At World's End" is a haunting and fierce contemporary work featuring all 20 of the dancers. Both Tim and Petr know the dancers really well and can pull things out of them specifically based on their personalities and talent. I think this show is a true example of the diversity, vitality, youth and ability of this group of international artists.
It’s time for places – the kids are filing into the cafeteria and we’re almost ready to travel to Danceopolis where our superhero story begins. We’re kind of always in Danceopolis if you think about it – it’s pretty cool. Come join us this weekend! The Shepherd Express and ThirdCoast Daily both think you should!
Director of Community Outreach