Milwaukee Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program Has a Proven Track Record of Dancer Success

Sponsored by Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy
February 15, 2024

For second-year student Fayeth Hartman, attending Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy’s Pre-Professional Program was an obvious choice to help achieve her goal of becoming a professional dancer. She followed in the footsteps of her older brother, who had attended the summer intensive in 2017 and then joined Milwaukee Ballet II. “He realized that the PPP would be a good fit for my training. So, he and I began to campaign our parents to allow me to move here.” PPP was not a hard sell. While many academies promise to serve as pipelines to second and main companies, the Rolando Yanes Pre-Professional Program has the metrics to prove it. Forty-two percent of MBII artists are PPP alumni, and more than 50 percent of Milwaukee Ballet’s dancers were promoted from MBII. PPP also provides students with the drive and skills to pursue careers at ballet companies globally, as well as other pathways in the arts, including collegiate dance training, commercial dance, and theatrical opportunities.

The program’s schedule is carefully crafted to set dancers up for professional life. Mornings might include Pilates, followed by ballet technique, pointe, variations, repertoire, and a style class like flamenco, hip hop, or musical theater. The program size is small, allowing dancers to receive highly individualized coaching. Though many participants have already graduated from high school or are engaging in independent study to complete their academics, all PPP students benefit from additional classes, like dance history, nutrition, career seminars, and mental health workshops.

Stage experience is a key part of the curriculum. In addition to understudying or participating in MBII and main-company productions, PPP students hone their artistry by learning and performing professional repertoire. Dancing Cinderella Waltz, choreographed by Milwaukee Ballet artistic director Michael Pink, gave Hartman a window into company life. “I loved the music and the choreography. It made me feel like a professional dancer. I could not stop smiling while I was performing it,” she says.

Hartman notes that everything she wants to do outside of the state-of-the-art Baumgartner Center for Dance is conveniently located within walking distance, and the neighborhood surrounding Milwaukee Ballet boasts a thriving arts community. Whether her career lands her at MB or elsewhere, Hartman knows that her experiences at PPP will support her long-term growth. “The program trains you to be the best dancer you can be in your technique and artistry,” she says, while providing “the structure and discipline needed to progress your training to be prepared to enter the professional world.”

Program size: Two cohorts of 20 dancers each. Most students progress on a two-year track.
Age range: Most PPP students are 15–21.
Performance opportunities: Twice a year in dedicated showcases (in late fall and spring) in the Baumgartner Center’s WE Energies Foundation Performance Studio. Students also have the opportunity to audition for roles in MB main-stage productions throughout the season and may be invited to perform and understudy for MBII productions.
Tuition: $7,695 for the 2024–25 school year (nine monthly payments of $855), plus a one-time $25 registration fee. Includes all classes, rehearsals, costumes, and performance participation. Scholarships and financial aid are available, and students are encouraged to apply.
Room/board: Students must secure their own housing, food, transportation, dance attire, and shoes.
Daily schedule: Around eight hours of daily training and rehearsal time. Sample schedule includes: 8:15–9:15 am, Pilates (select days); 9:30–11 am, ballet; 11:15 am–12:15 pm, pointe or pas de deux; 12:15–1 pm, lunch break; 1–2 pm, repertoire; 2:15–3:15 pm, style class (jazz, contemporary, dance history, etc.).
Alumni: Aside from joining MBII or Milwaukee Ballet, other alumni have joined companies and esteemed programs, including Indianapolis Ballet, Ballet Minnesota, Ballet Pensacola, Queensland Ballet, First State Ballet Theater, Gulf Coast Studio Company, School of American Ballet, and Butler University. Additionally, graduates have worked with Disney and Universal Studios.
Additional opportunities: Mental health workshops in partnership with New Insights Training and Consulting and its licensed psychologists; nutrition workshops and physical therapy services are available throughout the year in partnership with Froedtert Sports Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Important dates in 2024: March 16: 2024–25 PPP in-person audition; April 18 and 19: Experience Days (advanced registration required); April 28: Video audition deadline; May 8: Students will be contacted with their acceptance and registration materials by this date. September tuition is due at the time of registration; June: Online applications for financial assistance for 2024–25 will be available.

For more information about developing your technique and artistry at the Rolando Yanes Pre-Professional Program, click here.

Pre-Professional Program dancers performing in Fortitude. Photo Rachel Malehorn courtesy Milwaukee Ballet.