Arts Roundup

Milwaukee’s Other International Ballet Company

Milwaukee Ballet II headlines the week’s arts offerings.

By - Jan 20th, 2014 05:32 pm

Every year the Milwaukee Ballet scours the world for the best young dancers, aged 12-22, to participate in its six-week summer intensive workshops. “We are auditioning for that program right now,” says Alyson Chavez, director of community outreach for the ballet. “The staff travels to about 30 cities to audition dancers.”

In his travels, ballet artistic director Michael Pink sometimes auditions international candidates, for instance holding some in Japan. Other candidates from outside this country may send a video of their work to apply. Ultimately 150 dancers are chosen for the summer intensive, and those who have graduated from high school, aged 18-22, are eligible to be considered for MBII — or the Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program, as it’s officially called.

“We end up with 20 dancers in MBII,” says Chavez. This year the group includes four dancers from Japan, two from Mexico and one each from Brazil and France. “Japan is a kind of mecca for ballet, they turn out a lot of good dancers.”

Members typically work for one year with the group and then apply to join professional companies, including Milwaukee’s. “Currently ten members of Milwaukee Ballet are graduates of MBII,” says Chavez. So these are really the next generation of ballet artists.

MBII does performances in schools, senior centers and the like, but they also do a major show at the 786-seat South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center each year, a tradition that started three years ago. Last year the centerpiece was the Balanchine work “Who Cares,” set to music of George Gershwin. This year, in a performance that takes place twice, this Saturday afternoon and evening, the show features a brand new piece choreographed by former Milwaukee Ballet Company member Petr Zahradnícek, to music of Cole Porter.

The South Milwaukee venue has become a second home for MBII. “We’re starting to tailor the show for that audience,” says Chavez. “They have a strong high school musical tradition.” The concert also includes “Aubade” choreographed by Pink; and a new work from Milwaukee Ballet Choreographer-in-Residence Timothy O’Donnell.

So its a varied concert mixing classical and contemporary dance featuring a world premiere and featuring young dancers who could be the stars of tomorrow, and who are very excited about the opportunity. “Performing on a big stage is really what they need,” Chavez says,  “so this is really a highlight of the year for them.”

The full roundup of this week’s performing and visual arts offerings:


South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center presents Milwaukee Ballet II – World Premiere feat. Music of Cole Porter Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  Tickets range from $8 for student side seating to $30 for adult premium seating, available online   or call (414) 766-5049.

Peck School of the Arts presents Winterdances, celebrating UW-Milwaukee’s Dance Department’s 50th anniversary at the Mainstage Theatre from Jan. 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. The program will feature works by past and current faculty and students. Tickets are $17, $15 for seniors, UWM faculty and staff, and $5 (presale)/$8 (night of show) for students. Tickets are available online or call (414) 229-4308.


Sunset Playhouse presents Murder on the Nile, written by crime writer Agatha Christie,  Jan. 23 – Feb. 9. Tickets are $20, $18 for seniors, students and military personnel. Tickets available online or call (262) 782-4430.

Soulstice Theater Company presents God, a comedy by Woody Allen that poses some of life’s biggest questions in his typical, neurotically funny fashion. Jan. 24 – Feb. 8. Tickets are $21, $19 for available online.

First Stage presents The Cat in the Hat Jan. 25 – March 2. Tickets are $12, available online  or call (414) 267-2961.


Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes) “Music Under Glass” series presents Almighty Vinyl 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23. Tickets are $6.50, $5 for seniors/students.

Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra presents Jazz Heritage Festival Friday, Jan. 24, 9 am to 4:45 p.m. at Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra presents pianist Inon Barnatan performing Brahms Piano Concerto No 1, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Jan. 24-25 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $22 to $102, available online or call (414) 291-7605.

Concord Chamber Orchestra presents Joker’s Wild: A Collection of Chamber Music at Nicolet High School on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, $5 for students, available online

Festival City Symphony presents A Celebration of Spirit, Sunday, Jan. 26 at The Pabst Theater. Tickets are $14 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, available online or call (414) 286-3205

Visual Art

Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum presents four new exhibitions including Between Critique and AbsorptionAesthetic Afterlife , The Print Room, and Brian Ulrich’s  Copia- Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores. All four exhibitions will run from Jan. 22 – May 18. Admission is free.


The Arcade Theatre at  The Underground Collaborative presents The Goodnight Milwaukee Show!, Milwaukee’s own late night talk show with two competing hosts on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door, available online.

Special Events

Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Carroll University present The Eurydice Festival featuring 45 artists, 4 venues and 2 performances on Friday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. Reserved premium tickets are $30, general admission tickets are $25, $20 for students/seniors, available online or call  1-800-838-3006. 

Last Chance

Skylight Music Theatre:  El Cimarron, through Jan. 22


First Stage:   A Midnight Cry through Feb. 9

Milwaukee Repertory Theater:   End of the Rainbow, through Feb. 9

Milwaukee Repertory Theater:   Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie, through Mar. 9

0 thoughts on “Arts Roundup: Milwaukee’s Other International Ballet Company”

  1. Anonymous says:

    the Milwaukee Ballet, especially since it’s been under the direction of Michael Pink, is a great source of joy in the beauty of movement in Milwaukee! Even those who ordinarily don’t go to the ballet should buy tickets to experience truly elegant performances!

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