History will be made in Milwaukee this weekend when six of the city’s dance troupes share the stage—and the spotlight—with Ailey II, the New York City-based dance company of the esteemed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Nō Studios Dance Fest features a reception Friday night at Nō Studios that is free and open to the public and a dance performance Saturday. The performance has sold out, but the technical rehearsal on Saturday is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Sherman Phoenix.
Danceworks Performance MKE, Ton Ko-Thi Children’s Performing Ensemble, the Milwaukee Irish Dance Company, Signature Dance Company, Water Street Dance Milwaukee and WoLF Studios will be dancing on Saturday. The groups represent a variety of methodology and expression.
Danceworks Performance MKE focuses on original contemporary performances and community engagement through learning and fitness programs.
Ton Ko-Thi Children’s Performing Ensemble uses traditional instruments, costumes, music and dance to celebrate the history and cultures within the African diaspora. The group has traveled nationally and internationally performing and educating.
The Milwaukee Irish Dance Company features dancers who enjoy collaborating and improving their traditional Irish dancing.
Signature Dance Company is a place for women and young girls to explore and practice their love of dance while building an environment of personal growth.
Water Street Dance Company has performed contemporary dances across the country.
WoLF Studios focuses on inter-genre performances and pushing the limits of traditional choreography.
Nō Studios opened its doors in October. CEO and director John Ridley created the space with his sister Lisa Caesar as a haven for artists. She emphasized that, although New York City carries the star power, the real draw is right here in Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee dancers “are incredibly talented performers with rich histories. They’re groundbreaking in their own right,” Caesar said. “To see all the local companies and Ailey at once, it has a huge impact and highlights the fact that no one is sacrificing quality by seeing them.”
Dani Kuepper, artistic director of Danceworks Performance MKE, said the venue itself is newsworthy.
Sherman Phoenix, located at 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave., came into existence as a positive solution to violence and unrest. It opened its doors in November, and it is home to several local small businesses that will be open during the dance fest technical rehearsal on Saturday.
“An outstanding thing for me, is not only to bring dance companies together but to bring attention to Sherman Phoenix, to go there and to see the exciting progress they’ve made in revitalizing that building and bringing all this attention to the local venders. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of,” Kuepper said.