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Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010

Milwaukee Ballet’s New Trio

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I recently had an opportunity to sit down with the three newest additions to the Milwaukee Ballet, Julianne Kepley, Joshua Reynolds and Tanner Schwartz. I asked them how they joined the company.

Julianne Kepley


“I worked with Michael Pink at the Atlanta Ballet on Dracula and Esmeralda and I was Juliet in his original Romeo and Juliet. I danced it again here as a guest three years ago. Then I joined the San Francisco Ballet. They had 83 dancers, a ridiculous amount of money, a dream facility and an amazing repertoire. But I prefer the family feeling here. No one is expendable. If someone gets hurt, it matters. So I made my decision to leave my husband and home. My husband has moved across the country three times for my career; I won’t make him do it again. I go back every couple weeks. I’ve wanted to work with Michael for a long time. His dances are at the top of my list of works I’ve loved. I’ll stay ’til I’m done dancing or as long as he’ll have me.”

Joshua Reynolds


“I was Dracula in Atlanta the second time Michael staged it there. I’d been to Milwaukee once. It was 30 degrees, covered in dirty, nasty snow—really scary coming from Atlanta. My biggest fear was that the dancers wouldn’t be like Michael, but so far it’s great. I think I’m lucky. There are so many talented dancers looking for jobs. How many people can wake up and do what they love? Ballet is an art—the whole point is to give audiences something they can take away. Michael knows how to get the dancers’ emotions out there. It’s amazing to work with someone who focuses on that. He wants us to understand the role fully, not just do things because he tells us to. It’s not like being in the corps of the Boston Ballet, where you feel like an ant.”

Tanner Schwartz


“Michael is an anomaly among company directors because the company truly likes him. I’ve never seen a working atmosphere like this one. The respect between Michael and the dancers is mutual. And everyone is helpful. If you ask another dancer about a step, they’ll give you the right one. I’ve worked in many companies, most recently the Joffrey in Chicago. I happened to take a class in Chicago with Nadia Thompson, our ballet mistress here. I really liked the style and she encouraged me to come. I’m not a big fan of dancing which is purely technical. What I really like is that you get such a variety of dances. You are always experimenting with what your body can do. I was a gymnast and I also love classical music. Ballet brings those together, but it’s just better. It’s an art—it’s about how you do something, not just how many times you can do it.”