From the Desk of
Artistic Manager of Danceworks Youth Performance Company
It is always a highlight of my year to work with Danceworks faculty members and dancers of oh-so-many ages to create the annual Studio Showcase. As Artistic Manager of Danceworks Youth Performance Company, I work closely with the teen performers of Danceworks all year round to craft themed concerts; however, when it comes to the showcase, all must work together to bring this epic dance event to life. This will be my third year directing the Studio Showcase. In 2017, we celebrated the Cream City in My MKE: The Magic of My City, and in 2018 we fell into the colorful world of the circus in The World in the Red Suitcase.
Where will the creativity of our staff and dancers take your family next, you ask? Why, on another danced adventure, of course! Each year the process of creating the showcase world begins with a story…
It’s Maria’s birthday and all have come to celebrate! In the park, under the June sun, friends and family spread out joyfully, dancing the day away. With full hearts and tummies, the festivities begin to wind down and present opening starts to commence. Before Maria can finish unwrapping her gifts, the wind picks up and a storm is overhead. Quick hugs and warm goodbyes are exchanged as her guests swiftly depart. Maria and her three best friends hang behind to clean up.
While organizing the pile of presents, something unusual jumps out to Maria. Among the wrapping paper, a tethered corner of parchment paper peeks out. Oblivious to her discovery, Maria’s friends continue to put away party supplies and it becomes a race against the rain. The wind begins to swirl around, but Maria, entranced by the gift, doesn’t seem to notice! The friends run to her and as they do, the group is swept into a tidal wave! The rain turned into a storm, which turned into a flood, and suddenly, the friends are swimming in the sea! Schools of fish and other creatures, some friendly and others foul, absurdly float by.
Finally, the waves calm and the four drenched friends are washed ashore. Nothing looks familiar! The friends examine the mysterious map more closely and realize that they are stuck in the magic of the map! There’s nowhere to go, except to travel onward. Along the journey they’ll meet inhabitants of the island and realize that they’ll only get home if they work together. They must embrace the adventure ahead and steer clear of the pirates lurking behind. Who will make it to the “X” first? Now this will be a birthday Maria will never forget!
In this year’s event, the role of Maria is danced by Danceworks Youth Performance Company Junior, Maya Lindvall! Maria’s best friends are danced by Maya’s fellow Juniors: Jovanna Melendez, Sophia Thomure and Cassidy Quandt. The audience follows this quartet of dancers as they embark upon a Treasure Adventure.
During their weekly Danceworks Youth Performance Company rehearsals, the Juniors work closely with me to absorb the story, learn the choreography, tune their acting skills, and work on any improvised material they may need to use as they travel from scene to scene. In rehearsal, they prepare for the experience. It is difficult because although the Juniors are always dancing the same part, along the way they meet the characters danced by different classes from show to show. The Juniors prepare to interact with the Mermaids and observe the Tropical Birds; however, each time these characters are seen, they are danced by different students from various classes.
Being new to performance — maybe even being on the stage for the very first time — our younger Danceworks students only perform in one show so as not to overwhelm them. As dancers advance in our classes, they may find that they have access to more performing opportunities. For example, dancers taking level IV and V classes often perform in every show. This gives the experienced dancers more performance experience, and allows for the structure of the event and storyline to remain the same. Our Danceworks Youth Performance Company Seniors appear often throughout the showcase as they are in many of the higher level classes. Their repeated presence allows for support of the storyline, coordinated scenes with the Juniors, as well as a choreographed flow of props and set changes.
Danceworks faculty works from January through June to prepare their classes for the event. Instructors are first assigned a character and from there they begin to brainstorm on their “version” of the character to create choreography. Next, instructors decide upon the music and begin to teach choreography within their weekly class meetings. In the weeks leading up to event, dancers of all ages and every style of class learn the finale choreography. As we approach the dress rehearsal week at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, all the pieces of the puzzle are finally ready to be put together!
As we arrive at South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, props and set pieces are given their finishing touches and the lights and sound are tested. Dancers are prepped to set foot on the stage and we begin the great task running through all the pieces of the show, designing lights, and crafting scene changes. The dress rehearsals are really more of a combination of both a dress and tech rehearsal. Dancers not only perform their number in costume during their allotted time, but throughout the evening we work with the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center tech staff to communicate technical needs. When we finish our last dress rehearsal on Thursday, June 6th, we will be ready for all three unique shows taking place on Saturday, June 8th. We look forward to sharing the final product with all of you! It’s bound to be an adventure like no other!
Danceworks 2019 Studio Showcase: Treasure Adventure
Saturday, June 8, 2019
11am, 2pm & 5pm
at South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
901 15th Ave.
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
Get all the final details and answers to your questions about the 2019 Studio Showcase here!
Welcome to the Danceworks blog, where we're hoping to share a little bit more about the heart and soul behind Danceworks… what made us join the dance and keeps us dancing, what keeps us inspired, and where we can share some of the stories worth telling.