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Danceworks, Inc.
K-Pop with Alex Vanissaveth (@_xandervan) is BACK every Saturday at 1:30-2:30pm this Fall! Drop in anytime for $16/class OR check out our class card packages. Register today at dwmke.org/fall22 📣Did you know that NEW students at Danceworks receive their first class #free!? Register online, select “new student”, and your first class is on us! See you in the studio 🤗Teaching Artist: @_xandervan Song: TWICE - Talk That Talk ... See MoreSee Less
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Danceworks, Inc.
Danceworks current and past staff, faculty and board, came together yesterday evening to kickoff celebrating Danceworks 30th Anniversary at Lynden Sculpture Garden! 🎉🎊💙We are celebrating #30yearsofdanceworks all year long! 🎊🎉 Join us throughout 2022-23 as we honor the legacy of people and programs that helped form where Danceworks is today. We will celebrate through retrospective performances, enhancements to our outreach programs and events that acknowledge the footprints that have led us to this point. We will also welcome new voices and new partners as we begin to shape the next 30 years of Danceworks in Milwaukee, envisioning more collaboration, diversity and access to the arts. Danceworks is inviting YOU to leave your footprint on our path to 30 more years and participate in imagining how we might touch the lives of others through dance. Look forward on the year when you go to dwmke.org/30years ⬅️#danceworks #Danceworksmke #performingarts #milwaukee #MKE #MilwaukeeNonProfit #nonprofit #anniversary ... See MoreSee Less
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5 days ago

Danceworks, Inc.
Danceworks is proud to announce that we’re celebrating our 30th Anniversary in 2022-23: dwmke.org/30years 🎉 Join us throughout the year as we honor the legacy of people and programs that helped form where Danceworks is today. We will celebrate through retrospective performances, enhancements to our outreach programs and events that acknowledge the footprints that have led us to this point. We will also welcome new voices and new partners as we begin to shape the next 30 years of Danceworks in Milwaukee, envisioning more collaboration, diversity and access to the arts. Danceworks is inviting YOU to leave your footprint on our path to 30 more years and participate in imagining how we might touch the lives of others through dance. ... See MoreSee Less
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Danceworks Blog

The Pursuit of Tappiness

Posted on by Deborah Wenzler Farris

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 first in our series, “20 Years, 20 Stories.”

Amy and Gabi - the early years.

Amy with her daughter Gabi, and a set of dance-themed flash cards.

Many of you know Amy Brinkman-Sustache as the woman who “uses her feet to tap out the rhythms of life,” as Crocker Stephenson said in a Journal Sentinel article on her in 2005. She shares that rhythm with students of all ages and abilities at Danceworks and throughout the city.

What you may not know is that when Danceworks opened its doors in 1992, co-founders Polly Morris and Mary Newton asked Amy to be the Studio Director.

Amy came with experience. She started teaching dance lessons to students in her family kitchen at the age of 10. This prepared her well for what would lie ahead; with Danceworks’ focus on taking the work beyond the studio and theatre and into the community, you never know where you might end up having to teach or perform. In addition to tap, Amy has taught jazz, modern and ballet. She also choreographs.

In the early days, Danceworks produced many independent artists’ concerts, Amy’s work among them. For one of her concerts, Amy hired Sarah Wilbur and other UWM dancers. In 1997 Danceworks Performance Company (DPC) was launched—the new company named by Amy. (Sarah Wilbur became DPC’s first Artistic Director, by the way.)

Amy is responsible for much of what makes Danceworks unique, approachable and successful:

  • When her 3-year-old daughter Gabi started placing tickets for post dinner dance performances beside her parents’ dinner plates, Amy decided it was time for some formal training.  Classes for 3-year-olds were added to the schedule and then eventually our extremely popular Hip Hop classes.
  • When Amy needed something for Gabi to do on days off from school, Danceworks’ School Day Off Workshops entered the scene.
  • When Polly received funding from the NEA for a 50+ Initiative, which brought dance and visual arts to Milwaukee County senior sites, it was Amy who said, “Let’s add 50+ classes to the schedule!”
  • When the idea of the Mad Hot Ballroom program came up, it was Amy who added the very popular Tap component to make Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap (MHBT). As our lead Tap teacher, she choreographs all the tap dances, trains the tap teachers and teaches in the program herself.
Amy-&-Gabi

Amy and Gabi dancing together with DOT.

“As an MHBT faculty member, it’s amazing to see a child who normally feels invisible at school put himself out there, learn something new and gain the confidence to be a leader among his peers,” Amy told me.

It’s perseverance like Amy’s that has made Danceworks what it is today.

“From the beginning, Danceworks’ focus has been on using the arts to strengthen the community and make a difference in someone’s life. Creating, connecting and building have been on our ‘to do list’ every day for 20 years.”

I’m proud to work alongside Amy.

There are many wonderful 20th Anniversary stories to share, and I will be doing that over the coming months. As the only ‘Danceworker’ who was here when the doors opened in 1992 and is still here today, Amy deserves our recognition and applause. Here’s to you, Amy—and here’s to another 20 years of Tappiness!



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.