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No Girls Allowed: Milwaukee Ballet's Boys Class

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“No girls allowed.” This phrase is usually plastered on the doors of messy bedrooms and tree-houses. At Milwaukee Ballet, it takes on new – positive – meaning.

Equality is as vital in dance as in any other field. Danseurs are just as important as ballerinas. Someone’s got to do those hefty lifts, right? But, let’s face it, they dance differently. Doesn’t it make sense for them to learn differently?

One thing that makes Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy so special is the retooling of our Boys Class. It offers young men the rare opportunity to train in an environment crafted especially for them. It’s a far-too-common occurrence for strapping young lads to end up in a class completely surrounded by girls in their pink and black leotards (think “Billy Elliot”).

Our young men may find themselves in the minority fairly often, but, in Boys Class, they get to pay special attention to the Tour en l’aires and grand pirouettes that differentiate their technique from that of their female counterparts. Billy Elliot

And, almost more importantly, they get to run around and be boys. At least that’s what eight-year-old Antonis Ybarra tells us.

“I get to warm up by just running around in circles, which may seem crazy if I did that anywhere else. I also get to learn ballet positions, and we work on strength by doing push-ups and other exercises,” he says, adding, “Sometimes I sweat a lot and get very tired.”

Antonis, like many boys, was introduced to ballet by watching his older sister dance. Soon he was enrolled in his own classes, including last year’s Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy Boys Classes. "I have made many new friends since I started Boys Class," he says. "The class has also made me stronger for other activities I do like swimming."

And, of course, there’s the cool factor. Boys Class allows our students to interact with the men of Milwaukee Ballet Company. Guest teachers for this class have included some of the premier Milwaukee Ballet artists, including Timothy O'Donnell and Marc Petrocci.

Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy Director Rolando Yanes will instruct the boys in all things manly this year. Antonis approves, noting, “Mr. Yanes was always really nice. He was funny sometimes too. He made you pay attention to his instructions so that you could learn. I think that is what I liked the best, the class was fun and we learned a lot. I can’t wait to start again this fall.”

Boys Class is available Saturday mornings this fall, beginning September 7 at Milwaukee Ballet’s Jodi Peck Center. If your little guy likes to run and jump, give Boys Class a try. You’d be hard-pressed to find a safer, more beneficial environment for him to get a little of that energy out of his system.

Visit milwaukeeballetschool.org or call (414) 649-4077 for more information.