En Face

Happy Campers: Ballet's Summer Relevé and Day Camps

ballet day campTowne Center Ballet Day Camp students in a “Romantic Age” pose during Ballet History class.

Summer is still a busy place here – even after the Summer Intensive Program that hosted 165 students from all over the world, even despite the Company and Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II dancers being off. Our younger budding ballerinas and premier danseurs are still at it – stretching, strengthening, dancing and brushing up on ballet history! This summer we’ve hosted a few new opportunities for our youngest balletomanes – the Relevé Summer Program, Ballet Day Camps and our popular themed Dance Camps.

A few months ago, I told you about the Relevé program – our ballet training program for students at ALBA, Allen-Field and Dover Elementary Schools. Run by Education Program Manager, Lori Flanigan, the new Relevé Summer Program (funded by Northwestern Mutual and the MPS Partnership for the Arts grant) provided these students with a chance to stay in ballet shape over the summer and further prepare our scholarship students for the maintenance classes they are taking now. We offered three sessions – two of which were open to any of the Relevé program students - in Session 1 we had over 20 students and in Session 3 we had 15! That’s a great turnout (no ballet pun intended!) Our second session was designed specifically for the 5th grade graduates who were awarded scholarships to Milwaukee Ballet School – seven students attended. With the assistance of new Relevé teacher Tori Zures (and recent MBII graduate), Lori taught a strength and stretching class and a full ballet class. We wrapped up each day with a ballet history class – covering everything from King Louis to Michael Pink. For a new program, we weren’t sure how many kids to expect – but Lori was thrilled at the results and the progress the kids made. Combining the schools into once summer program gave the kids a chance to bond and make new friends – a requisite for any summer camp experience!

As I’ve spent the past few weeks teaching ballet history at the new Ballet Day Camps at both Towne Centre and Riverpoint – the same is true. Happy kids dancing all day, making new friends! The Ballet Day Camps are a week long, running from 8:45 a.m. until 3:00 in the afternoon. That’s a lot of ballet! From my perspective, teaching kids at the end of their camp day and getting a chance to talk to the parents – all parties are satisfied: one mom told me that not only did she enjoy her leisurely week at the beach but that her daughter loved being in a smaller class getting some fantastic attention from teacher Lori Romito. Emma, age 10, gave me a card on the last day that reads: “Thank you for teaching me about ballet. Now I think a have a favorite dancer – Anna Pavlova. I was surprised at how interesting ballet could be!”

This week at the Jodi Peck Center, little pirates and fairies are arriving daily for the Peter Pan Camp, run by Rolando Yanes, Director of the School. As the kids take a ballet class, make Peter Pan-themed crafts and put together a show for their parents at the end of the week, older students, Milwaukee Ballet II dancers and a few Company members start to fill Studio A. Maintenance Class has officially begun. Company and MBII dancers are on their own for most of the summer – some of them go off to other cities to guest dance, some take a much deserved break from their rigorous ballet regimen. With only three weeks left until the MBIIs report for duty and a month until the Company is back, the dancers are preparing for an exciting season. Tanned and a little sore, they are getting back in shape and ready for Dracula.

Alyson Chavez
Education Director