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Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy’s curriculum combines the teaching techniques of several international teaching institutes. The School & Academy’s advisory committee for the current curriculum is made up of artists and teachers from around the world:
Michael Pink (Artistic Director), Royal Ballet Trained
Rolando Yanes (School & Academy/MBII Director), Cuban Trained
Denis Malinkine (Ballet Master), Bolshoi Trained
Mireille Favarel (Associate Director of MBII), Trained in France
Karl von Rabenau (MBII & School & Academy Faculty), Trained in the United States
Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy draws the best from each of these philosophies and relies on the strong professional experiences and knowledge of the resident faculty.
• Standardize training of the Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy
• Ensure the highest quality classical training throughout the organization
• Encourage self-motivation, self-confidence and self-discipline
• Create an encouraging and disciplined atmosphere
• Offer individual attention so that each student may reach his/her potential
• Communicate to students and parents what students gain beyond dance training
• Connection to Milwaukee Ballet Company
• Ballet history appreciation
• Music appreciation
• Opportunity to perform with Company
• Potential route to MBII and Milwaukee Ballet
• Make students active partners in their progress.
Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).
Students begin to assimilate the studio environment. An appreciation and enjoyment of movement is nurtured. Essentially, learning how to learn from an instructor in the studio begins in Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet I. In Pre-Ballet II and III, as classes expand beyond working in a circle, students begin to follow the instructor while standing in lines, facing the instructor and ultimately begin to follow by looking in the mirror. Rhythms and basic music counting as well as body and spatial awareness are important components of the Children’s Division.
Proper classical posture and the correct execution of exercises within the classical posture are the most important accomplishments students learn from the beginning levels. Students must have a very confident knowledge of personal directions and basic musicality.
Students learn to define and physically execute the techniques of classical ballet vocabulary. Improving and refining the classical posture while performing more demanding exercises is emphasized. As the age becomes appropriate, instructors relate to the students the concept of the relationship between the spine and the standing leg(s). Use of the arms becomes important in the work through simple port de bras. Precision must be demanded of each individual to their ability. Character dance, jazz, and pointe work are introduced at various levels.
The emphasis becomes one of artistic value. Students learn the nuances of seamlessly executing classical ballet choreography. They are also challenged by learning advanced skills and long combinations. Additional classical training in variations, men’s work and partnering are added along with Pilates and modern dance.
The Open Division brings a fun, exercise based program available to teens and adults.
Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy’s Creative Movement program is designed to introduce the elements of dance to children who are 3 years of age. Based on creativity, musicality, and imagination, students gain awareness of the elements of dance before entering the Pre-Ballet program. Class is accompanied by live piano music.
The goal of a Pre-Ballet I is to help children develop body and simple muscle awareness, strengthen locomotor skills and very, very basic ballet technique. The class incorporates the vivid imagination and fantasy inherent in 4-year-olds. Ballet class discipline and tradition are also important parts of this program. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
In Pre-Ballet II children become more coordinated in their ability to isolate body movements so exercises are done to further develop this natural growth. More complex locomotor movements, including moving both forward and backward are introduced. Imagination and storytelling through movement are incorporated throughout the class as is traditional ballet class discipline. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
Pre-Ballet III builds on activities from Pre-Ballet I & II. Students stand in lines facing the mirror and copy the same legs and arms as the teacher. This year there is more emphasis on right and left, pointed feet, and straight legs. Upon completion of Pre-Ballet III, students should be prepared for the start of formal ballet training. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
Student Division, Beginning Level
Ballet I is the first year of formal ballet training. Emphasis is on class etiquette, proper posture and proper use of positions of feet and arms. Students develop muscle memory, elasticity of the ligaments and coordination. Students must learn to identify points of the room and will also learn some music theory and music recognition. Students also increase locomotor abilities and enjoy free dance time to develop artistry and expression. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
In Ballet II, children develop strong carriage of arms (port de bras) and begin larger body movement while maintaining proper posture. They develop stronger balance and jumps by proper use of legs and feet. Students learn to use basic épaulement for croisé positions and begin preparations for turns. Free dance is used to develop artistry and expression. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
Upon completion of Ballet I & II students have developed the foundation necessary for the now twice weekly format of Ballet III. Proper ballet vocabulary and definitions are emphasized as students learn to the names of and reasoning for all barre exercises. Muscle use becomes more specific in balancing on one foot (flat) and 2 feet in demi pointe. Sustained leg lifts at 45 degrees and coordinating two-feet to two-feet jumps are accomplished by year end in addition to further épaulement and proper foot position in tendu. Most work is done with one hand on the barre. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
Student Division, Intermediate Level
Students in Ballet IV now attend classes three times per week and begin to build on the vocabulary of Ballet III. Students begin to work from 5th position and must maintain proper placement and body control while performing exercises involving weigh shifts, simple pirouettes and linking port de bras to leg work. Simple jumps from two feet to one foot, one foot to two feet, one foot to one foot are taught and balance in demi pointe on one foot becomes regular. Students are expected to retain simple, 4-part combinations and use head and eye focus appropriately. Character dance, a folk art, is introduced to teach expressiveness and expansiveness of movement. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
Students in Ballet V are required to demonstrate clarity in all work including body placement, feet and arm positions and work, and when linking steps in more complex combinations. Students can sustain 90-degree extension, perform simple pirouettes with spotting, and have an understanding of all Grande positions. Batterie is introduced in jumps. Stability on demi pointe and in pre-pointe exercises and full use of ankle, knee and hip joints is critical when preparing for pointe work in Ballet VI. Character dance continues. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
Ballet VI students focus on increasing the complexity of exercises and combinations of movement. Grande pirouettes and jumps along with full combinations of linked steps are emphasized. Clear articulation of Batterie in jumps is expected, as are double pirouettes. Students in Ballet VI begin pointe work starting springs to and from pointe, rolling to and off pointes with straight legs, very secure ankle placement, bourrees and chaînés, pas de bourree in various forms en pointe, balance on two feet and relevé on one leg with controlled descent. Beginning jazz is taken in an additional class and focuses on basic jazz technique, terminology and movement quality with an emphasis on proper execution of jazz rhythms and style. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
Ballet VII students are at the top level of intermediate study. They work in extended combinations, balances and accomplish full coordination during exercises. Clear position in Grande and Simple poses is expected along with clear petite allegro with Batterie. Stable, multiple pirouettes and 8 fouetté turns should be accomplished and penchée at the barre should reach 135 degrees. Pointe work continues with rolling up through pointes, ability to spring and roll up onto one foot, better articulation of foot in pointe shoe, fully stretched legs when standing en pointe, simple pirouettes en pointe, working with extended legs while en pointe, 16 relevé on one foot in center and piqué en tournant. The second level of jazz is taken as an additional class where longer center combinations and sections of choreography should be used. This helps to build the dancers understanding of storytelling in jazz 5 styles and the sometimes pedestrian qualities that have created the shapes of this dance form. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
Boys Class concentrates on steps a male dancer must master. Strength, stamina and elegance are stressed. Students learn to turn the athleticism of dance into tasteful artistry. Boys Class is designed to reinforce the techniques taught in ballet class while placing more emphasis on strengthening allegro work, batteries, pirouettes and presentation skills. Students develop the skill and understanding of classical ballet, at the same time as building a sound technique, by developing the physical ability to communicate through movement in an expressive and artistic way. A clearly defined structure allows learning to take place in the context of safe dance practice. The classes are structured progressively, ensuring that steps and skills are learned at lower level preparing students for more complex movements as they progress. Class is accompanied by live piano music and students participate in the full school showcase.
As the first level of the Pre-Professional Division, students now take classes 4 days per week and begin to develop a stronger performance quality and nuance in their work. Multiple pirouettes and balon are expected and all leg work is well above 90 degrees. Pointe work becomes more intense with extended time on pointe and more complex turning combinations. Jazz work continues and Pilates is added to the curriculum as are extensive weekend rehearsals for various performances. Class is accompanied by live piano music.
Students in Academy I are in class 5 days per week. Combinations become extended and more complex and details in each step and transition are expected to be clear and expressive both on flat and pointe. Jazz and Pilates training continues. Modern dance is introduced which focuses on some of the fundamentals of modern dance, i.e., the emphasis on the ground, the use of center, efforts/qualities of movement, and space and rhythmic complexity, with personal expression as the ultimate goal. Repertoire is also added to improve artistry and virtuosity in students. Emphasis is placed on the student’s individuality and understanding of music of classical ballet. An extensive weekend rehearsal schedule prepares students for performances throughout the year. Class is accompanied by live piano music.
Students are now dancing 6 days per week and are expected to have solid and expressive technique both on flat and en pointe. Jazz, Modern, Pilates, and Repertoire classes continue. Partnering class is introduced to teach students the basic technique of partnering. As students gain strength, class becomes more complex. Students learn to find their partner’s balance and learn to lift with confidence and good technique. Students develop trust for each other and learn to work as a team. Class is accompanied by live piano music.
Open Division classes are designed for teens and adults, at varying levels of experience, who are interested in the fun and fitness of dance. Classes meet weekly. Students may attend any or all of the classes that suit their level of interest and ability.
Teaches the feet, arm and body positions and introduces students to simple moving and connecting steps. The class is equivalent to Level I, II and part of Level III in the student division. Class is accompanied by live piano music.
Continues to build upon the basics from Beginning Ballet, adding more complex combinations and steps. The class is equivalent to Level III, IV and Level V in the student division. Class is accompanied by live piano music.
Students have a good understanding of ballet technique and are able to do more difficult steps and combinations. It is equivalent to Level VI and VII in the student division. Class is accompanied by live piano music.
A combination of Pilates, Yoga, and basic fitness stretching strengthens the joints and supports the structure of the body.