The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 2, 2012

Mankato ballet students have new studio space

MANKATO — Mankato ballet students will soon be able to pirouette, piqué and porté in spacious new studio space.

The Mankato Ballet Company has signed a lease on the former Earthly Remains antique store building on South Front Street.

“This offers great things,” said artistic director Eryn Michlitsch.”

“There will be much larger studios. We have two studio spaces now, but one is so small it’s almost unusable. The smallest new studio will be bigger than the large one we have,” she said, referring to the current home in a small building near the Kato Ballroom.

Scott Haefner, who bought the building at auction last summer, said the Ballet Company is the perfect tenant.

“It’s a cool old building with character you’d just see in a dance studio. With the big windows, at night it should look great,” said Haefner, who is president of Neubert Millworks in North Mankato.

“It’s an artsy thing that fits right in to the City Center.”

The location also offers parents nearby coffee shops and other entertainment while they wait to pick their kids up from classes.

Besides spacious dance space in the 7,000-square-foot main floor, the basement can be used for storing costumes and props.

After renovation work, the group hopes to be moved in by March.

Jenny Michels, board president of Mankato Ballet, said the move was necessitated by growth.

“We have record enrollment right now.” About 130 students from age 4 to adult are enrolled.

“We can contribute the growth to Eryn. The quality of our shows have really expanded and grown. When you bring a little girl to a show like that and they see all the magic and excitement, they want to be a part of it,” Michels said.

The ballet has for 26 years performed the Nutcracker and they host a spring show each year at the end of the first session of classes, which start this month.

Michlitsch was hired because of her marketing background as well as her artistic background.

“I’ve been working on grants and on doing more marketing,” Michlitsch said.

“We get a lot of word of mouth. Kids who are having good time tell their friends.”

She said parents who see the Nutcracker also often get their kids involved in ballet.

“With sports getting more competitive and tougher, this is a real positive experience. And kids can be on stage with older kids, which you can’t always get in sports,” Michlitsch said.

She said another phenomena of recent years has also helped ramp up interest in dance.

“ ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and all these other shows don’t hurt.”

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