“…plus the cape. I love that cape.”

Photo by Ken Cobb

Photo by Ken Cobb

I have had the joy over the past 10 years to see incredibly talented kids grow into incredibly talented young adults and eventually into incredibly talented professionals in their art form. It takes time and ambition to reach that level, and the instructors at MYB know how to cultivate and motivate these young artists to give them the keys to their future in dance.

Photo by Ken Cobb

Photo by Ken Cobb

I will continue to come back for Nutcracker for as long as they’ll let me do it. In fact, as every year goes by I am growing into the proper age of the character! It makes my heart swell when I think of being back in Appleton, surrounded by talented artists all contributing to capture a bit of the magic that is intrinsically tied to Nutcracker. That, plus the cape. I love that cape.

Photo by Ken Cobb

Photo by Ken Cobb

 

 

MJ Marsh, performing the role of Herr Drosselmeyer in MYB’s upcoming performance of The Nutcracker, is an actor and improviser based in Minneapolis, MN. 

Lauren Twomey, MYB Dancer

My name is Lauren Twomey and I am currently a senior at Kimberly High School. In the upcoming spring performance, I will dance alongside Bree Brzezinski, the other senior in the company, one last time.

My mother wanted me to be involved in some sort of group activity from a young age. And like most children, this meant sports and music classes. I excelled in my music classes, enjoying the sounds and the opportunity to move to a rhythm. I tried my share of sports, but was told that I simply twirled around the field and picked dandelions! So in connecting my desire to move and the adoration I had developed for music, I was enrolled in dance classes at the age of three and have not stopped since. I started my training at the Kim Janssen School of Dance and eventually transitioned to the world of competitive dancing. I have trained in several genres including ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and modern. At some point in this experience, I felt as though I wasn’t achieving my fullest artistic abilities. This is when I discovered that dance was my true passion. Through word of a friend, I chose to audition for The Makaroff School of Ballet. I remember my first class at the studio to be nerve-racking, but I felt as though I belonged. The other girls were nice and Ms. Makaroff was challenging as well as nurturing. I have been a part of The Makaroff School of Ballet and the Makaroff Youth Ballet for six years collectively, beginning at the age of 12. Having been trained at a competitive school that focuses primarily on the flashiness of the dances, I was very behind on my classical basic technique. I continued competitive dance for 3 years after I began training under Jeanette, and my dance skills had visibly improved. When I was accepted into the company at Makaroff’s, I made the decision to quit competitive dancing and pursue ballet full time.

I knew that ballet was something I loved to do and I found so much pleasure in being able to create such beauty in the form of movement. It was an escape coming to the studio everyday from all else that I had going on in my life.

Looking back on the young dancer I was then, to whom I have been shaped into now, makes me very proud. I have always been encouraged to challenge myself by my friends and fellow classmates, and have been so carefully guided by Jeanette so that I am able to attain the highest quality of ballet that I know I am capable of. I would never have known about the vast and exciting world of ballet if I hadn’t taken that first placement class and joined Ms. Makaroff and her studio. I have been a part of several Makaroff productions including the Nutcracker, Appalachian Spring, Holly and Ivy, and many more. Each time I performed a piece, I was able to create a new emotion and character out of the steps I was given. It has always been so magical.

My plans for next year are to attend Carroll University with a major in Exercise Science and work towards my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. I plan to keep music and dance parts of my life as I will be involved in choir at school, as well as theater and dance. The influence that The Makaroff School of Ballet and The Makaroff Youth Ballet have had on my life has been so positive and the art of ballet has taught me to be a strong yet always graceful person, no matter what steps I have to take to take to achieve my goal, both on my own and in a group. I have so much to be thankful for including all of my beautiful friends at the studio as well as my family for giving me the opportunity to live my dream. Leaving this studio will be so hard for me but I know that I will always have a home here.

Lauren Twomey
MYB Company Dancer, Senior

Photo: Ash & Ember, www.ashandember.com

Bree Brzezinski, MYB Dancer

My name is Bree Brzezinski and I am currently one of the two seniors in the company. I will soon be taking my final bow with the company and leaving behind a very large and significant part of my life.

When I was little, my mom would dance around the house with me on her hip. It is because of this that I slowly began to fall in love with movement. As I grew older, I started dancing to the theme song from The X-Files whenever it came on TV. It is this moment in time when my mom realized just how much I loved to move around and decided to sign me up for dance classes. At the age of three, I started taking tap, ballet, and gymnastic classes through Shirley Van’s Dance Studio. As a little kid, I had a hard time remembering choreography. I was the one that would watch the other girls throughout the entire dance and would end up behind the music because of it! When we started learning a dance to The Lion Sleeps Tonight, my mom went out and bought the CD and would help me practice the dance. Soon enough, I was able to remember it on my own and I didn’t have to look at anyone to remember what came next. Today, remembering choreography is easy for me.

By the time I was getting close to age seven, my mom realized that I needed to go to a school where I would be challenged more. She had me take a class at Green Bay School of Dance and soon enough I was signed up for classes. I had dropped both tap and gymnastics to focus more on ballet. By the time I turned 11, I started pointe. Then by age 12 I was preparing for my first performance on pointe. The choreographer was also my favorite teacher, Diane Danhieux. I liked her because she actually payed attention to me and wanted me to get better. I felt challenged in her classes. Soon enough, I was put into the highest level at the school by age 13. That’s when I got stuck in a rut. I didn’t have anything to work towards and wasn’t challenged in any of the classes I had with the other teachers. My mom noticed this.

At age 13, I took a placement class at the Makaroff School of Ballet. I instantly liked it much more than Green Bay and decided to start taking classes. I remember during my first class, Ms. Makaroff started with pre-barre as always and I had no clue what that was or what to do. Then one of the girls, Payton Bayer, came over to stand next to me and showed me what to do. The girls were much nicer at Makaroff’s and I knew I would be able to call this studio my home away from home. My first year was a little rough because I felt that I had to start from the beginning. Many of the corrections I received from Ms. Makaroff were things that I had never been corrected on before—things such as keeping your tailbone down or head placement. I was at the bottom of the food chain and knew I had to work my way up. I have now worked my way up and am proud of my hard work. I also now teach the pre-ballet classes at the studio and am happy to do it. It’s one way for me to help shape the next generation of Makaroff dancers.

I have now been in the company for six years. I’ve done several performances of The Nutcracker, performed on pointe after cutting off the tip of my toe the week before, and made my mother cry countless times. I have been given so many opportunities to show the community what I am capable of and I am thankful for that. At Makaroff’s, I have really been able to grow into the dancer I am today. Leaving this studio will be hard for me, seeing as I have learned so many valuable life skills here and made some lifelong friendships. I know I will have tears rolling down my face when I take my final bow beside my fellow senior, Lauren Twomey, and all of the beautiful dancers of the company. This is not the end of my dancing career. I will be attending UW-Stevens Point next year and have been accepted into their dance program, so expect to see me coming back to take classes during my breaks!

Bree Brzezinski
MYB Company Dancer and Senior

Photo: Jim Koepnick, www.koepnickphotography.com

Photo: Jim Koepnick, www.koepnickphotography.com

Rebecca Fitton, MYB Alumna

Three years ago, I closed an incredibly important chapter of my dance career- I took my last bow as a member of Makaroff Youth Ballet in a collaborative performance with the Fox Valley Youth Symphony. While it was bittersweet at the time, I would not trade my years in the company for any other experience.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rebecca Fitton and I was a member of Makaroff Youth Ballet from 2005-2013. Yes, I am one of the originals from back when it was Children’s Ballet Theater. In the eight years of my involvement, I grew physically and mentally in ways I would have never experienced without the wonderful community of MYB and mentorship of Jeanette.  My training with the company has undoubtedly led to the career I am currently pursuing. I am in my third year of dance studies at the Florida State University. In a year, I will graduate with my BFA with Honors in dance as well as a minor in biological sciences. But my education at FSU has been more than just those three letters of a degree. I’ve said goodbye to the pointe shoes and am now diving into the world of improvisation and experimental/immersive dance theater. I learned to write about dance performance and its social relevancy to other fields of study. I also immersed myself in the process of creating performances and have had the chance to show a lot of challenging work. This summer, I will be attending a workshop in Salzburg, Austria at the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance to further my research into post-modern dance. Additionally, I will be traveling to Washington, DC to perform at the Kennedy Center with the FSU School of Dance. We will be performing Alex Ketley’s Poem (Part 1) at the National College Dance Festival. After a quick return to Wisconsin, I will then spend my fall semester studying in New York City. I will be taking academic and movement classes while also working as an intern with an established dance organization in the city. This opportunity is unique to FSU’s program and one I am very excited about.

And after my graduation, which is coming all too quickly, I will continue to pursue my career. As with many other types of careers it will be a continued exploration into what exactly “I want to be when I grow up.” However, I know that movement in some form will be involved.

In the mean time, I will be around the studio this summer still trying to figure out how to plié and tendu. If you see me please come say hi and feel free to ask me any questions!

Rebecca Fitton
MYB Alumna

Photo: Melissa Artieda, www.melissartieda.com

Photo: Melissa Artieda, www.melissartieda.com

 

Dance/Music

My name is Elizabeth Crittenden and I am the Company Manager with the Makaroff Youth Ballet. Most know me as B, which I’ve gone by since I can remember. Growing up, I danced at a small studio where I studied tap, jazz, lyrical, ballet, and pointe. My experience at the studio offered to me a group of peers who were committed to spending several hours a week moving and sweating together to create art.

In my first year at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, I had the privilege of taking classes in the dance department and performing with a dance company on campus. The program was primarily focused on contemporary styles of movement, with which I had little experience. I learned how to feel and move in a more abstract way: to truly feel the floor, to be more aware of my weight, to come in full contact with people and items in the space surrounding me.

With majors in music and psychology, I no longer had the time or energy available to participate in the dance program beginning sophomore year. Instead of attending rehearsals in dance studios, I spent that time in the music building. I expected to miss my time dancing, the moving and “sweating together” that I had always cherished. However, the movement that I no longer experienced while dancing I was able to express in my music-making. Participating in band, orchestra, choir, and chamber ensembles were significant elements of my college experience. In these ensembles, I found both the capacity to feel and the intimate togetherness that I so love about the performing arts.

Famous 20th-century ballet choreographer and director George Balanchine was known for demanding that his dancers “See the music, hear the dance.” I carry this with me in all my performing arts experiences, and I know that Ms. Makaroff stresses and educates on the relationship between ballet and music. The duality of dance and music is inevitable; both art forms have and always will exist and grow in tandem. In some languages, the same word means both “music” and “dance”.

I am grateful for this opportunity to reconnect with ballet and for a new role in the performing arts as Company Manager with MYB. I am consistently impressed by the athleticism, passion, knowledge, commitment, and talent possessed by the MYB company dancers. They fully embrace the material put before them, devoting several hours of their week (including weekends) to the idea that movement and music are meaningful to their community and to themselves.

I am ecstatic to introduce MYB’s new website. I hope it will be a resource for past, current, and future followers of MYB’s performances and news, as well as a home-base for all to connect with MYB’s rich history and bright future.

B Crittenden
Company Manager, Makaroff Youth Ballet

Photo: Molly Murakami, www.mollymurakami.com

Photo: Molly Murakami, www.mollymurakami.com