Tim Frautschi is so much more than Danceworks’ longest standing board president.
He speaks and reads Italian fluently.
He gardens. When he and his wife Sue moved from their home to a condo he had three tons of dirt hauled up to their fourth story deck to keep doing what he loved doing. It’s a miracle the building has maintained its original height.
He’s a poet and I know it—because when he writes a “Letter from the President” for one of our performance playbills, you get a poem or a creative essay to treasure.
He takes great trips—such as rafting down the Grand Canyon, and hiking the mountains of Italy and along the coasts of Ireland.
He appreciates beauty and collects it, like the great antique door he saw and shipped from a faraway land which now stands in his second floor hall.
For 42 years he was an attorney with Foley and Lardner.
He drives a ‘72 Alfa Romeo.
It wasn’t easy in my early days at Danceworks. My first week brought with it a few surprises, as is to be expected in any new position. After some time spent learning more about the organization, The Nonprofit Management Fund underwrote a board development plan with Shawn Perrin. “It will only take one–new strong board member. Be patient!” a nonprofit peer told me. Tim was that one.
He and Sue received the Milwaukee Arts Board Best Arts Supporter Award this summer, which gives you a little idea of what he has done for Danceworks and what the two of them have done for the Milwaukee arts scene. “It speaks well of Danceworks’ Board,” he said over coffee at Colectivo in the 5th Ward. “In two years, two Danceworks board members received the award—first Mario and Cathy (Costantini), then Sue and I”.
It seemed fitting to feature Tim—who has worked alongside me through thick and thin for eight of my ten years at Danceworks—for my first new blog post on our new website.
Tim: I got interested in dance when I was a Fulbright student at London School of Economics. I had a full scholarship for one year. Once a week I would hang out at Covent Garden until someone would come along with a free ticket. I got to see a lot of things, including dance concerts—which I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. I saw Margot Fonteyn dance!
Deb: Did you ever dance yourself?
Tim: No. I came home and entered into law school at Madison. I went to a football game and looked at the cheerleaders through my binoculars. I picked out one with a big smile. I found out that her name was Pam, a Delta Gamma and a dancer. I invited her out for coffee because I figured if I invited her on a date at night she might have said she was too busy. We eventually got married and moved to Milwaukee.
She founded the Studio called Dance Spectrum with Katherine Kersten. They hired many of the next crop of Milwaukee dancers to teach the classes—Susie Bauer, Fern Caulker, Betty Salamun. I was their lawyer and accountant.
Soon our sons, Schuyler and Jason, came along, and we sent them to dance class. I’m pretty certain they were the only males in the classes. Jason really took to it—he was with Milwaukee Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet (PB), the Milwaukee Ballet/PB Merger, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Ballet Chicago.
As life goes sometimes, Pam and I eventually got divorced. We still celebrate holidays together as a family.
I met Sue later at a bar/restaurant where they had an accordion player and they did folk dancing. We both went there for the same reason. We met on the dance floor.
Deb: (Awww…pause to sip coffee.) Let’s fast forward to you joining the Danceworks Board. During your tenure here, what have you observed?
Tim: Constant growth and improvement in the staff, board and product.
Deb: You’ve been on so many boards.
Tim: Yes, including—Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, President for Skylight, Present Music and Next Act Theatre which I was just getting off of when Danceworks approached me.
Deb: Serendipity! What’s most memorable about being on Danceworks’ board? And don’t say it was that time we really butted heads.
Tim: It was that time we really butted heads. We worked through our differences.
Deb: I remember we were having dinner outside talking through things. A storm hit, and the umbrella from our table flew up in the air.
Tim: Literal and metaphor.
Deb: What’s your most memorable Danceworks Performance Company experience?
Tim: Stone Soup at Sweet Water Organics, Present Music at the Masonic Temple, Bolero, which Luc Vanier set at the Skylight. It reminded me of Kurt Jooss’ Green Table. I’ll always remember Dani Kuepper’s Wild Things and Pot Luck. And I do have a special fondness for Art to Art.
Deb: What else is memorable?
Tim: Seeing the expressions on the Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap kids’ faces when they walk out arm in arm with their heads held high at the Competition.
Deb: What is Danceworks’ biggest current challenge?
Tim: Space! We’re knocking against the walls. We need to find more space—our programs have grown beyond our walls.
Deb: And ceilings. What reward do you get for serving on the Danceworks board? You give an incredible amount of time, energy and resources.
Tim: I get the satisfaction of associating with an exciting art form and feeling, at least occasionally, that I’ve contributed a little bit.
Indeed he does, and so much more.
Thanks for stopping by our Blog. Please give me your feedback on the new site and any stories you might like to share. You can register for classes here or purchase tickets for our next performance Intersect here.
–Deborah Farris, Executive Director
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.