The Mankato Ballet Company wraps up its season this weekend with a fairy tale performance of “Beauty,” the group’s fresh take on an old classic.
Eryn Michlitsch, MBC’s artistic director, said the annual year-end performance will feature the studio’s version of “Beauty and the Beast,” while incorporating all of their performers, from their 3-year-old dancers to their advanced high schoolers.
“It shows all the different genres we teach, all the different ages we teach,” said Michlitsch.
The performance will feature various genres of dance, from tap and jazz to ballet. While the kid-friendly performance will showcase all levels of dancers, Michlitsch said the advanced dancers audition for the lead roles like “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.”
“Our oldest group is in all four shows at all times and our youngest group is in just one of the productions,” she added.
This year’s group of advanced dancers is unique, as seven of them are graduating from high school as well as from the ballet company. This group makes up the majority of the performance’s featured characters.
“They are kids that I have had since I started 12 years ago,” said Michlitsch. “The rest have trickled in since I started. They are definitely kids we have helped raise in a dance sense.”
Michlitsch, who commutes from Woodbury for rehearsals on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and every other Saturday, spends anywhere from 15 to 20 hours in the studio with her students.
“In a lot of ways, this is their second home,” she said.
Peyton Broskoff, an 18-year-old high school senior and advanced dancer, has been with the company since she was six.
“I tried ballet and I loved it from the first moment,” she said. “I started tap and jazz and stuck with it ever since.”
Broskoff spends five days a week at the studio between her rehearsals and assisting with teaching the five-year-old dancers tap and ballet two times a week, a role she has been doing since 2016.
Although Broskoff said it can sometimes be difficult to juggle school, teaching and dance lessons, being able to rely on her teachers — as well as the friendships she has developed within the studio — makes it a supportive environment.
“I love being on stage, so I think I will miss that a lot,” she said. “I will miss dancing with my friends.”
She puts in around 20 hours a week at the studio and has been rehearsing for the final performances since late February as the lead role of Belle in the year-end performance.
“It’s been very nerve-wracking because there is so much to remember,” she said.
Her favorite scene of the show involves the song, “Be Our Guest,” at the end of the first act.
“There are a ton of people on stage and there is a lot of acting on stage,” said Broskoff. “It’s fun to see people get into character and really act it up on stage. It’s just a really happy scene.”
The performance is also sentimental because it will be the last time she will share the stage with her friends, who she has danced with since they were little.
“We’ve spent so much time together this year,” she said. “I feel we have grown closer together as a group.”
Once the season ends, Broskoff will attend the University of Arizona, where she was accepted into their Honors Applied Humanities and Business Administration program.
Riley Jones, a 17-year-old high school senior is also relishing her last days with the company. She has been with the ballet company since sixth grade and plays the role of the candelabra in the performance, which was her dream role.
“It’s a really fun character to play because the candle’s kind of the mischievous one,” she said.
Jones is also part of the student-teacher program at the company and assists with teaching a pre-jazz and a creative movement class. She will attend Minnesota State University next fall.
“I am excited to fully be a character on stage and be engaged with the audience and hopefully make them laugh; hopefully bring them some entertainment,” she said. “It’s so fun to be on stage. You just turn into somebody different.”main story