Relevé students from Allen-Field Elementary School

Outreach in the Community

The Community Engagement Programs fit within the ballet's mission to create a passion for ballet through inspirational performances, and to enrich the lives of our audiences and educate our students by presenting the unique beauty of dance.

Milwaukee Ballet's Community Engagement Programs give you the chance to request programming for your school or community center, but we also participate in private programs and educational initiatives. Read more to find out what kinds of work we are doing in the community and stay tuned for updates throughout the year.

Relevé students from Allen-Field Elementary School
Relevé students from Dover Street Elementary School

The Relevé Program

Relevé (reh-luh-VAY - “to rise” or “raised”) is Milwaukee Ballet’s inner-city dance program. This program provides high quality ballet for over 200 students at four Milwaukee Public Schools. Students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades from ALBA School, Allen-Field Elementary, and Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts begin a three-year ballet training program with a weekly class in Milwaukee Ballet's Jodi Peck Center.

The young dancers have the chance to observe Milwaukee Ballet Company dancers in class and rehearsal, giving them the chance to see what a professional dancer’s day is like while they take class in a real studio. Community Engagement Coordinator Lori McNichols, who herself trained at Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy and is a graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts, is the main instructor for this program. Victoria Zures, a recent graduate of the Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program, also teaches for the program.

All students are given their own pair of ballet shoes to keep and students in 4th and 5th grades are lent proper ballet clothes to wear. The program includes additional enrichment activities such as free tickets to The Nutcracker and an in-school Ballet-in-a-Box performance and an end-of-year recital at their schools featuring dancers from the Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program. Dedicated, focused and talented students are awarded a scholarship to the Relevé Summer Program, to Milwaukee Ballet School's summer maintenance program and upon graduation from 5th grade have the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy. 

“Our students come from low-income homes and have very little exposure to the fine arts.  Through the program, each child has been able to participate and experience ballet, as well as to view performances by Milwaukee Ballet.  I know that without the Relevé program, we would not have the opportunity to expose the students to this type of dance.”
– Annemarie Schaff, Allen-Field Elementary School


Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Arts in Community Education Program (ACE)

This nationally acclaimed program enhances students’ total education through the integration of music and other art forms into the overall school curriculum. Teachers at ACE schools receive comprehensive materials and in-service training, as well as ongoing support as they find new and creative ways to teach via the arts. Seventy-eight ensembles, including both MSO musicians and local arts groups like Milwaukee Ballet, visit the school to provide live arts experience and support the curriculum. At the end of the year, families have the opportunity to attend evening concerts featuring the ACE ensembles, creating a bridge between in-school education and family activities. Milwaukee Ballet Company dancers teach workshops for 2nd graders at all 20 elementary schools as part of the ACE program.

Director of Community Outreach Alyson Chavez leads a talkback. Photo Nathaniel Davauer

Community Collaborations
In the 2015-16 season, Milwaukee Ballet’s Department of Community Engagement worked with over 30 organizations throughout Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin. Our most notable partnerships include:

Aurora Zilber Family Hospice
Bastille Days
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
Boys & Girls Club
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Curative Care
Downtown Oconomowoc Business Association
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts – KidZ Days
Milwaukee Institute for Art & Design
Milwaukee Public Libraries
Milwaukee Children’s Tour Club
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Ozaukee Children’s Tour Club
Penfield Children’s Center
South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
St. John’s on the Lake
UWM – Dance Department
Woman’s Club of Wisconsin

Have an idea for a community collaboration? Want to know more about us?

Alyson Chavez
Director of Community Engagement & MBII Manager
414-902-2120 or achavez [at] milwaukeeballet [dot] org (via email)