Is summer the time for dancing in the streets? It is for Milwaukee Ballet.
Though many dance companies are on layoff during July, Milwaukee Ballet just embarked on a new community outreach initiative called Ballet Beat. Over the next three weeks, the company will present a variety of free ballet-related activities that will culminate in an outdoor performance.
But before the dancers hit the stage they–of course–must hit the barre. During Ballet Class: Watch and Learn events, the public can observe Milwaukee Ballet members warming up and working through that essential element of a dancer's life: ballet class.
"Anytime you can give people a behind-the-scenes look at what the life of a professional dancer is like, you have the opportunity to educate them about how this artform is artistic and athletic," says Alyson Chavez, Milwaukee Ballet's director of community engagement.
Photo by Timothy O'Donnell
"Sometimes, people who are new to ballet don't see the dancers or the artform as relatable or relevant," she explains. "We think that by showing them the dancer's regimen up close and allowing them to see the sweat and work involved really changes people's perspective. They suddenly see that these are artists working hard, and it becomes more real."
But viewers will also get to experience ballet with a little lesson of their own. "We add in an interactive part where we teach the audience the positions of the feet and arms," Chavez says. "It gets them moving and shows them that ballet is not as easy as the professionals make it look."
Ballet Class: Watch and Learn events will take place on July 11 at 11:30 am at Intercontinental Milwaukee, and July 24, 25 and 26 at 12 pm at the Peck Pavilion at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.