‘It gives them inspiration:’ Milwaukee Ballet dancers teach kids at Penfield Children’s Center

MILWAUKEE -- Dancers with the Milwaukee Ballet are leaving the stage for the playroom. It's all part of a community outreach program inspiring kids to enjoy dancing for life.

When music plays at the Penfield Children's Center, the kids will dance. Too young to be embarrassed, they don't care who is watching. Dancers with the Milwaukee Ballet hope to keep it that way.

"What we really want everyone to do when they experience Milwaukee Ballet is to have some fun, give it a try, stretch and move around a little bit. That's really good for everybody," said Alyson Chavez, director of community engagement, Milwaukee Ballet.

Many of the children enrolled in Penfield's Childcare Program live at, or below, the poverty line and don't have access to ballet or any type of dance lessons.

"It helps them to see that we can dance and we can have fun, and that's what makes life exciting," said Rebecca Michelsen, manager of community outreach programs.

Some also have a disability. All are encouraged to mimic the professionals in whatever they can.

"It gives them inspiration that they can be anything when they get older," said Michelsen.

For the dancers, it's a chance to connect with their audience -- and inspire tiny dancers to keep up with the beat for the rest of their life.

"When you're this close to people, it really makes a difference to them," said Chavez.

Milwaukee Ballet has partnerships with several community centers and puts on programs like today's year-round.