Dance studio helps young ballerinas train as professionals

12-year-old Brooke Baldner is in pre-professional ballet training program

Growing up in an area with a variety of activities allows kids to chase after their dreams at a young age and a dance studio in Onalaska is helping one young dancer prepare for a lifetime on stage.

Many little girls dream about becoming a ballerina but how often is there a place in their own backyard where they can go to make that dream a reality. Misty’s Dance Unlimited in Onalaska has a specific training program to help young girls get started on the right foot.

Twelve-year-old Brooke Baldner’s typical Saturday is spent at the dance studio.

“I usually start at 10:30 a.m. and then I have ballet class, a point class, and then I have a ballet production. Then I have “Heidi” from like 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For any kid that’s a long day but it’s what Baldner knows.

“I have been dancing since I was 2,” said Baldner.

And it’s what she loves.

“Ballet is my favorite,” said Baldner.

With high hopes of going to Julliard and becoming a professional ballerina, Baldner knows these small steps will lead to big things

“You can tell she is just pinning away to be that professional dancer one day, we really see that in her,” said Amanda Schams, associate director for Ballet La Crosse.

To continue on the right path, Baldner joined the pre-professional ballet training program.

“The classes are an hour and a half and it’s helped a lot because it improves my technique,” said Baldner.

Although Baldner is in level one of three, she is already seeing great reward for the extra work she is putting in.

In the upcoming ballet Heidi, which is based on the original novel, Baldner landed the role of a baby goat.

“I was really excited to be a child soloist because it’s a huge opportunity for me,” said Baldner.

“Just in the last year and a half, I have seen her grow tremendously,” said Schams. “It’s about the process, not necessarily about the finished product and to see the growth and to see the goals become met but also exceed them and I think that’s what Brooke will do.”

Schams, who’s been teaching ballet for nearly two decades, will be the first to admit dancing isn’t for everyone.

“But for those that really love it, you can tell they are just drawn to it and it’s a part of who they are,” said Schams.

And when you spend more time at the dance studio than at home, it’s safe to say dance is a big part of Baldner.

“I dance because it brings me a lot of happiness,” said Baldner.

To prepare for the upcoming ballet, more than 60 local dancers have taken part in about 40 rehearsals, including a three-week intensive training session to learn choreography. This type of training schedule mimics professional ballerina training and gives everyone a glimpse of professional life.

If you would like to see “Heidi”, it runs this weekend at the Weber Center for Performing Arts. The performances are on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m.  Tickets range in price from $16-$22 for adults and $10 for anyone under the age of 18.