Milwaukee Ballet Pre-Professional Program Preps Dancers for Careers in Ballet and Beyond

Sponsored by Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy
February 6, 2023

In 2019, Milwaukee Ballet moved into the Baumgartner Center for Dance, an expansive, state-of-the-art facility that provides ample space and opportunity for the company and its affiliated school. One such opportunity was the creation of the Rolando Yanes Pre-Professional Program (PPP), a new division dedicated to equipping promising students with the skills and resources to attain their professional goals in ballet and beyond. Led by former MB principal Tatiana Jouravel-Malinkine, the program is tailored for recent high school graduates and current high school students (with alternative academic-study options), and it offers daily intensive training modeled after the rigor of company life.

Sage Simons, a current Milwaukee Ballet Second Company (MBII) member and PPP alum, recommends this track “for dancers who feel they’ve outgrown their traditional dance program” and are “ready to push their technique and artistry to the next level.” The program focuses on honing technique and developing versatile, knowledgeable artists. In addition to rigorous classical ballet study, including pas de deux, PPP dancers are exposed to a variety of genres spanning flamenco, hip hop, contemporary, jazz, musical theater, African dance and more. Additional offerings include biannual performance opportunities, Pilates coaching, nutrition counseling and mental health workshops, as well as career seminars and courses in dance history to further encourage students’ understanding of their art form—and how to craft their futures in it.

MBII dancer and PPP alum Amanda Lewis explains that exposure to varied curricula encourages adaptability and prepares dancers for professional life, giving them “a sharpened skillset and diverse tool box” of knowledge required for employment down the line. This philosophy pays off: most recently 42 percent of MBII artists are PPP alums, and more than half of current MB company artists are former MBII members. Other PPP graduates have chosen to study dance at the collegiate level, found success dancing in other professional companies, or have pursued careers in the commercial dance or musical theater worlds.

Program size: Two cohorts of 15 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: $7,398 for the 2022–23 school year (9 monthly payments of $822), 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. Tuition for the 2023–24 school is TBA.
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; 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 the Medical College of Wisconsin 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 2023: March 19: 2023–24 PPP in-person audition; April 20 and 21: 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 due at time of registration; June: Online applications for financial assistance for 2023–24 will be available.

Are you ready to make the transformation from student to professional? If so, visit the Rolando Yanes Pre-Professional Program website for more information on how to get started.

A contemporary ballet piece featuring a group of young women in long maroon dresses. A line of women face upstage while a soloist lifts her leg in second.
Pre-Professional Program dancers performing in Fortitude. Photo Rachel Malehorn, courtesy Milwaukee Ballet.