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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

Michael Pink (foreground) demonstrates a movement to dancer David Hovhannisyan in a rehearsal of "The Nutcracker." Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Ballet

Theatricality drives Milwaukee Ballet's Michael Pink


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The theatrical crafts of scenic, lighting and costume design are essential partners in Pink's choreography. "Production values are so important, and we have been working to raise them at the Milwaukee Ballet since I got here," he said. "We are building the level of tech support a company like this should have."

For those who assume that means oversized budgets, Pink can prove otherwise. The brand new "Peter Pan" cost $370,000.

"A million dollars is the magic number for a new ballet in America. Give me a million, and I will give you three full productions," he said.

Pink's eight years with the Milwaukee Ballet make him the longest serving artistic director in the company's 40-year history. He was also in the running for the top creative jobs at the Boston Ballet and the Royal New Zealand Ballet when he interviewed here. Family considerations were a large factor in his choosing to come to Milwaukee.

"My wife and I wanted to have an environment where we could settle down a bit and raise the kids," he explained. "And New Zealand is an island on the other end of the world." The Pinks have three children.

"The potential has always been here," the Englishman says of the Milwaukee Ballet. "There truly is a market here for a ballet company that fits into community."

Pink is not the only person who thinks that. The UWM Peck School of the Arts and Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin have joined the Milwaukee Ballet in a partnership formed to develop a new joint facility in downtown Milwaukee.

The development would include a new home for the Ballet and its large school, a 300-400 seat state-of-the-art dance performance space for use by the Ballet and the Peck School of the Arts, and a full sports medicine clinic operated by Froedtert and the Medical College. The Ballet would continue to mount all of its major productions at the Marcus Center but would have the option of also performing in the smaller space.

The Milwaukee Ballet has outgrown its present facility on 5th and National, which has been its home since 1979, and the 109-year-old building is crumbling around the company.

Ballet executive director Dennis Buehler reports the project partners are seeking a site near the Marcus Center and the Water Street entertainment corridor.

Two foundations have committed $2 million to finance the project's initial steps. Buehler says the Ballet hopes to have the development up and running within five years.

In the meantime, "The Nutcracker" opens Dec. 10 for a Marcus Center engagement through Dec. 26.

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