En Face

Learning from the Masters

Students learn from their role models during spring break at Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy!

Last night students walked into the Studio A, wearing their favorite leotards and spiffiest dancewear, hair neater than ever, and hearts beating faster than usual because they were about to have class with Milwaukee Ballet’s Artistic Director, Michael Pink. 

This rare opportunity was the first of a series of master classes being through April 12 held with artists of Milwaukee Ballet including Mr. Pink, Ballet Mistress Nadia Thompson, Ballet Master Denis Malinkine, and Company dancers David Hovhannisyan, Susan Gartell, Ryan Martin, Valerie Harmon and Marc Petrocci.

Michael walked into class and half-jokingly said, “So, what are you expecting?  To work hard, sweat, and be sore tomorrow?”. The kids giggled nervously, but he knew this is exactly what they wanted. They worked on some of the fundamental elements of ballet training – pulling up when movement takes you down, finding the support of your standing leg, and how to make your presentation larger than life, even with still developing technique. Of course, because musicality is so very important to Michael, they worked on dancing to the music in a way that makes it hard to tell if the music is making the body dance or whether the dancers themselves are commanding the music to follow along. Pianist Dan Boudewyns contributed to this learning process as well, providing brilliant music for the class.

Everyone had a great time, including Michael.  The students worked very hard to do their best.  They left with smiles on their faces, dripping with sweat, just as they hoped for.  When I spoke with Michael this morning, he talked about the strong work ethic of the students and their talent.  

The ideas for these classes was born from Milwaukee Ballet School Registrar, Kelly Knoke, whose daughter is in Ballet VII and was imagining herself going crazy without dancing over spring break. With a building full of talented dancers and gifted teachers, we saw an opportunity to give the students a burst of new challenges by offering these master classes. The idea grew into a fundraiser for a new showcase performance for Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy students in Spring, 2013.  All the teachers and accompanists donated their time to give the classes so all fees paid go directly to the showcase project. 

Everyone with intermediate or advanced ballet experience is welcome to take the remaining master classes. Fill out a registration form and join any or all of the classes!

Renee Griswold

School & Academy General Manager