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BIOME opens in LESS then a week! Let’s learn about the choreographer and director behind DPMKE’s upcoming show, BIOME! Read about Gina Laurenzi below and then join us for the show premiering February 29-March 3, 2024. Tickets are selling fast, grab them here! Laurenzi (@gina_laurenzi )graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) with a BFA in Dance: Choreography & Performance. Before beginning her chapter in Milwaukee, Gina was awarded a full merit scholarship to train at Giordano Dance Chicago and later performed with Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance, among other Chicago artists.Since living in Milwaukee, Laurenzi has been able to perform the works of Daniel Burkholder, Simone Ferro, Marie Gillespie, Dani Kuepper, Deb Loewen, Dawn Springer, Christal Wagner, and Morgan Williams among many others. Laurenzi continues to set work on the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project and has created works for Danceworks Performance MKE (DPMKE), Danceworks Youth Performance Company, Danceworks Intergenerational Performance Company (DIPC), Makaroff Youth Ballet (Appleton, WI), the Milwaukee Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program students, Milwaukee’s High School of the Arts, UWM Dance Dept., and Water Street Dance Milwaukee. Laurenzi is currently on faculty at both Danceworks and the Milwaukee Ballet and continues to teach at UWM where she is also pursuing her MFA in Dance. Laurenzi is happy to be able to continue to work with the wonderful artists of DPMKE after performing with the company since 2013.📸: ... See MoreSee Less
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Danceworks DanceLAB presents Get It Out There! Learn about the show and showtimes below⤵️💥March 16, 2024 | 5:30pm & 8pmat Danceworks Studio Theatre1661 N. Water St.Milwaukee, WI 53202About the show: Danceworks Artistic Director, Christal Wagner, is set to unveil the latest edition of Get It Out There, a biannual showcase of works in progress by both emerging and established artists. This spring’s event, presented through Danceworks DanceLAB, will feature a diverse array of 22 new works from talented performers across Milwaukee and its surrounding areas. Scheduled for Saturday, March 16th, 2024, the performances will take place in two separate concerts at the Danceworks Studio Theatre. Following each show, attendees are encouraged to stay for an opportunity to interact with the artists, offering feedback and fostering dialogue. With a spectrum of genres on display including contemporary dance, dance theatre, poetry, and music composition, the evening promises a dynamic exploration of artistic expression.Tickets now available at link in bio. Artist line up coming soon…!💥📸: Christal Wagner ... See MoreSee Less
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Did you know that we have merchandise?! Head to Danceworks to check out all that we have available!•T-shirts•Beanies •Zip-up Hoodies•Joggers•Fanny Packs•ThermosStop in today at 1661 N. Water Street Milwaukee, WI!#danceworks #dance #merchandise #newgear #fall #tshirt #zipup #fanny ... See MoreSee Less
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Danceworks Blog

The “Madness” has begun!

Posted on by 10Web Support

In honor of Danceworks’ 20th Anniversary, we are sharing 20 stories of individuals who have made an impact on—or who have been impacted by—Danceworks and our programs. This is the second in our series, “20 Years, 20 Stories.”

It’s already been seven years since Mario (Costantini) and I met with funders around Milwaukee to find backing for Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap (MHBT). Everyone pretty much said, “Don’t you want to take some time to get this organized?” We felt differently. The opportunity was there and with the help of many wonderful people, we went for it. For this post, it seems fitting to feature Rachel Payden, MHBT faculty, dancer, singer, administrator and as of this year, Danceworks Outreach Director who, among other things, is overseeing our 45 MHBT schools this year. -Debbie

Rachel Payden, Danceworks Outreach Director

Rachel Payden, Danceworks Outreach Director

I read the following quote on the side of a Starbucks cup in the year I worked there after college:

“It’s relationships, not programs, that change children. A great program simply creates the environment for healthy relationships to form between adults and children. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level, and when they also have a sense of belonging to a caring community.”

I immediately scratched it down on a little piece of receipt paper so I could carry it with me. I read it and remember thinking, “YES! That IS what it’s all about. Relationships. Community.” Then I found Danceworks.

It’s hard to believe that this week marks the official start of the seventh season of Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap (MHBT). I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the program since its birth here in Milwaukee, when I volunteered at the competition that took place at Turner Hall in the fall of 2006. Three schools participated in the pilot program—three. Somehow over the course of the past seven years, three has grown to 45.

There are countless stories, songs and faces that come to mind when I think about my own involvement in MHBT, and I know that this sentiment is shared by fellow teachers and colleagues. Where do you begin talking about MHBT?! It’s funny to look back on my firsthand experience in one of the MHBT schools, which took place during my very first month working at Danceworks. Amy Brinkman-Sustache hung up the phone in the front office, looked and me and said, “Grab your shoes—we’re doing a show.”

A show?! Where were we going? How many people were going to be watching us? What am I supposed to do in this situation? Amy had just heard that a school with a gym full of students were expecting a dance performance from Danceworks teachers as an introduction to MHBT. She was determined to give them just that.

The Roosevelt Middle School MHBT class from 2012 holds a special place in Rachel’s heart.

The car ride to the school replays in my mind like a movie. Amy talked through where we were going and why it was important to do this, and she shared some ideas about what we could do when we got there. She was completely calm as I sat next to her, and I was thinking, “WHAT is going on?!” I was in a bit of a panic.

Luckily, that feeling diminished, as I came to find out that Amy was a pro at this kind of gig. I remember standing there, feeling like a deer in the headlights, watching Amy confidently do her thing in front of a gym full of students and teachers. She started demonstrating simple tap steps, and the room became absolutely silent—aside from comments like, “Cooooool!” and “Aww, look at those shoes!”

It was the chatter that came spilling out of the students’ mouths as they heard the rhythms from her feet.

It was so cool—an entire room full of kids that immediately tuned in to tap dancing, which I learned was something that most of them had never seen or heard in their lives before that day. Whatever Amy did, they loved it. They asked questions. They were involved. I remember listening to Amy exchange clapping rhythms with the students back and forth, and thinking that it really was like they were having a conversation without words. I remember understanding why it was so important that we raced over to the school that day. I remember admiring Amy so, my own tap teacher, and wanting to be able to do what she did some day.

Mad Hot alumni who now perform with Danceworks Youth Performance Company: 2009 Gabi Sustache, Agana Baertlein2010 Izzy Gallagher, Tatyanna Melendez; 2011 Kayla Weeks, Emily Koranda; 2012 Josh Newborn, Adrianna Doxtator, Lauren Moton, Jahari Clark, Jasmyne Carter.

Mad Hot alumni who now perform with Danceworks Youth Performance Company: 2009 Gabi Sustache, Agana Baertlein; 2010 Izzy Gallagher, Tatyanna Melendez; 2011 Kayla Weeks, Emily Koranda; 2012 Josh Newborn, Adrianna Doxtator, Lauren Moton, Jahari Clark, Jasmyne Carter.

What a difference the years have made! Being a part of the Danceworks team, and specifically being in the schools as an MHBT teacher for the past six years, has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Someone recently asked me if I like my job. I simply answered, “Yes, I do.”  Why? Because Danceworks makes Milwaukee a better place. Because I continue to learn from some of the most passionate, talented and caring people I’ve ever met. Because I know that Danceworks makes a positive difference in thousands of family’s lives. And because I truly believe that the heart of Danceworks’ work is in the pure joy of sharing and building community. — Rachel Payden

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About Our Blog

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.