Photo: Jenn Mazza
Milwaukee Ballet II: What to Expect
Each morning, Milwaukee Ballet II dancers have a set schedule of their core classes - ballet, pointe, variations, men’s class and partnering. Throughout the year, special workshops and master classes will be offered in modern, pilates, contemporary, jazz, and even acting, for example.
In years past, Milwaukee Ballet II has had guest teachers and master classes with the Trey McIntyre Project, Alvin Ailey II, Val Caniparoli - San Francisco Ballet, Graham Lustig – American Repertory Ballet, Reggie Wilson – Fist & Heel Dance Company, Sarah Wilbur – founder of Danceworks, the entire dance department at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee including Andre Tyson – former dancer with Alvin Ailey and Janet Lilly – former dancer with Bill T. Jones.
Milwaukee Ballet II and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Dance Department partner together all year through teacher exchanges, composition workshops and tickets to each other’s productions. This partnership enhances the modern dance training and exposure for Milwaukee Ballet II dancers.
“Milwaukee Ballet II helped me discover my own independence as a dancer.” Rachel Malehorn, Milwaukee Ballet
The Milwaukee Ballet II program has many facets to it – beyond the continuation of ballet training to prepare young dancers for professional careers and education and outreach work throughout the city, performance opportunities are a major focus. Members of Milwaukee Ballet II will perform with the company in Dracula, The Nutcracker and ALICE (in wonderland) this season. Milwaukee Ballet II dancers perform in their own studio performances three times a year, with the Academy in the fall Assemblé show, in the Classical to Contemporary production in the spring and their Graduation Celebration at the end of the season. These performances include an array of repertoire and solo work. Milwaukee Ballet II dancers tour throughout the community performing on average six times a year at small venues and sometimes out-of-state. There is a four week Ballet-in-a-Box tour to local schools, retirement communities and libraries each season. Milwaukee Ballet II boys perform with the Milwaukee Ballet Academy in the Holiday Arts Festival and all Milwaukee Ballet II dancers perform at The Nutcracker Tea, the Milwaukee Ballet Ball and sometimes in the Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy spring showcase.
Being in Milwaukee Ballet II also offers dancers a chance at many local, national, and even international guesting opportunities. Dancers in the past few seasons have guested with dance schools in Wisconsin, Texas and Illinois and Milwaukee Ballet II dancers have represented the Company at the Gala de Danza in Cancún, Mexico three times.
Milwaukee Ballet II dancers receive a small stipend, are protected with workers comp and receive an allotment of technique and pointe shoes throughout the season.
Milwaukee Ballet greatly appreciates the services of the Froedert and Medical College Sports Medicine Center, a provider of sports medicine services for numerous athletic organizations throughout Milwaukee, including the Milwaukee Brewers and the Milwaukee Bucks, and also generously donates their services to Milwaukee Ballet and the Milwaukee Ballet II program. Milwaukee Ballet II dancers receive a pre-season physical evaluation with the ballet's primary care doctors and have access throughout the season for injury care and prevention.
Milwaukee Ballet II dancers are allowed to take any of the Milwaukee Ballet Academy classes for free in the evenings.
“My two years with Milwaukee Ballet II gave me the performance experience that I needed in order to pave my own way as a professional dancer and as an artist.” Julie Marie Niekrasz, Ballet Memphis
The Milwaukee Ballet II program is meant to offer young dancers a way to become well-rounded citizens, not merely well-trained dancers. With the myriad of opportunities to perform, educate and continue training, dancers learn about many aspects of the professional dance world. The emphasis on personal growth and education is vitally important to the program and Milwaukee Ballet II dancers are given the chance to see as much dance as possible throughout the year with field trips around Milwaukee and in Chicago. Milwaukee Ballet II dancers work with the director of community outreach to create and participate in educational workshops for schools and with other arts organizations such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and the Milwaukee Public Libraries. Nearly all of the community outreach programs utilize the Milwaukee Ballet II dancers so that people see first hand the dancers in action as they learn about the art form of ballet. With the help of the Milwaukee Ballet II dancers, the community outreach department has expanded its reach into the community to 30,000 people each year.
"The second company comes to feel like your second family, encouraging one another to grow technically and artistically. As an MBII you learn to expect the unexpected as you tour from school to school, and through these experiences you develop a strong camraderie with your fellow dancers. Over the course of two years I grew a tremendous amount, with the MBII faculty by my side pushing me to reach my maximum potential." Julie Ann Miller, Pre-Med Student