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Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013

Milwaukee Ballet Reaches Out

Alyson Chavez speaks of education and boys in tights

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Alyson Chavez is the face and voice of Milwaukee Ballet. As director of community outreach, she does directing, education, training and writing through Milwaukee Ballet II (MBII). She recently sat down with Off the Cuff to discuss farm systems and Packers tights.

 

You wear a lot of hats, for a ballerina.

I danced as a kid, but I’m not a professional dancer. Not really.

 

What does outreach look like?

We serve about 30,000 a year—school kids, primarily. Also, seniors, hospice and Children’s Hospital, a curative care center. We are for everyone, those who love ballet and those who’ve never experienced it.

 

You also write and direct?

This is my ninth season with MB II. It is a second company. The dancers are all 17-24 from around the world. I liken it to a baseball club’s minor league system.

We’ve done four of my original shows in “Ballet in a Box.” Our last one was about ballet superheroes. Seeing something I’ve written come to life, the way they do it—I am so lucky.

 

Favorite role?

I love writing; scripts, study guides for shows and our blog (“En Face”) on milwaukeeballet.org. But I would say the grandma in The Nutcracker. Though it’s least important, it is my favorite.

 

You spent time with the Colorado Ballet, and taught Spanish and drama.

Yeah, as a long-term high school substitute, one semester each. I was not ready to teach. I was too close in age. Teachers asked for my pass. I was like, “Come on, I’m a teacher.”

 

Easier to work with: dancers who don’t speak English or high schoolers?

Dancers. There is a certain polite decorum and classroom etiquette. They learn English pretty quick too, living and working together. I’ve seen them show up in Milwaukee with none, and be comfortable by Christmas.

 

So boys can do ballet? Dancers are athletes?

I don’t think ballet is a sport. It’s an art form. But it is incredibly athletic. I like to say our boys wear tights—the same things the Packers wear, just without the pads.

 

Why should people come to the ballet?

Well…we are a top-notch company with dancers from around the world who come to Milwaukee to live and work. They are incredibly talented, know how to tell a story, can move you with emotions, are hard working and don’t make much. They do it because they love it.

And don’t be afraid. You don’t need a class to understand and enjoy it. It is all about you and what’s onstage. You make your own story, have your own relationship with the stage. It is a totally unique experience.

 

What’s next?

The Nutcracker starts Dec. 14.

 

Grandma?

You know where to find me.