Hi, I'm Calie, owner of Milwaukee With Kids. We're introducing a brand new series! Each week or so, I sit down with movers and shakers in Milwaukee who are making it a great city for families and supporting MKEwithKids.com. This week we're chatting with Victoria Stevenson at the Milwaukee Ballet about taking ballet to the streets, the hidden value in getting rejected from a show, and what the proper term is for a male ballerina.
For being a world-renowned dance company right here in our own city, there's a lot we didn't know about the Milwaukee Ballet.
Like, a lot. Here are some tidbits that surprised us in the best possible way:
✔️ Milwaukee Ballet is home to an international company of dancers.
✔️It's one of only a few companies in the nation to feature its very own orchestra.
✔️It's the only accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Dance in the midwest.
But our favorite surprise is that even with all of these claims to fame, you can actually enjoy performances from the Milwaukee Ballet for FREE during the summer. It's true!
Yup. There's a lot we didn't know about them. But we love to learn about the best that Milwaukee has to offer kids and families, so I chatted with Victoria Stevenson, Branch Manager at the Schauer Center in Hartford.
And she knows her stuff. Tori teaches dancers the choreography for "The Nutcracker" every year, AND has danced almost every single role in the show. She gave us the lowdown on the Milwaukee Ballet's offerings for kids & families, and so much more.
Thanks so much for chatting today, Tori. Can you tell us the story of the Milwaukee Ballet in Milwaukee? How and when did it all start?
Milwaukee Ballet was founded in 1970, and the school has been open for almost 40 years. It's grown through the years and taken different forms with different directors.
Today, it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance. It's one of less than 15 pre-professional studio schools in the county, and the only one in the Midwest.
How can kids and families specifically get involved with Milwaukee Ballet?
We offer a mix of ballet classes and camps, for all age levels and abilities. We start as young as 3 and we have classes for students up until 18 years old. We also have classes for adults!
For performances, you do have to be registered in the school, and for professional productions like "The Nutcracker" the students do have to audition. We also have our showcase at the end of the year which is where all of the students in the school can perform.
What a great experience to audition for a professional production, and to get a sense of accomplishment whether or not you make it in on the first try.
Absolutely! Yes, we have quite a few students who audition, don't get in, and then they try again, and they get in the next year.
The experience of our professional productions is unforgettable for students. Being able to be a part of the professional company and be around the company is really rewarding for them. It's a big deal. It's a big commitment, but it's totally worth it. They rehearse just about every weekend starting at the end of September, and the performances run through December.
Can you tell us more about the free Ballet Beat popups you do? They sounds so cool!
It's a group of our company dancers that go around Milwaukee during the summer performing at libraries and other locations, doing community engagement work for free. They put on performances, and it's just a really cool opportunity for people to learn more about us, instead of having to buy a ticket and go to the ballet to see if they're interested.
I love that it's free and really interactive, so kids and families can experience it more. They can actually try steps and feel more involved, meet the dancers, and get to know them a little bit more.
What if a kid doesn't dance well? Can they still take classes at Milwaukee Ballet?
Yes! The youngest level we offer is Creative Movement for three year olds. The three year olds don't do a showcase, but the four year olds in Pre Ballet 1 class are able to be in the showcase.
The showcase is optional. Many of the younger dancers are too young to audition for the professional productions, but they can choose to do the showcase if they want.
So now for our most important question. What on earth is a male ballerina called? Do you have lots of boys in your school?
It's just "male dancer"!
We have quite a few boys - 30, I believe. We are always trying to get boys to do ballet because of course boys are so important in ballet. We have some interest, and of course we would love more.
The boys love it. Ballet teaches them disciplines, they're so focused in class and they get to express themselves and it's just so awesome to see those boys dance.
Where can our audience connect with you? Tell us about locations, pricing, and scholarships.
We offer classes at four locations: Milwaukee, Brookfield, Fox Point, & Hartford. Prices vary depending on the age and level, but everything is available online. We do offer financial aid that parents can apply for.
Learn more about the Milwaukee Ballet.