Effortless dancing from Butler.Madison Ballet's Repertory II is a rare chance to see George Balanchine's works performed locally

KATIE REISER | Isthmus | Posted : March 22, 2014

Madison Ballet closes its 2013-14 season with Repertory II, a program at the Bartell Theatre. It has three works, two from artistic director W. Earle Smith and one from iconic choreographer George Balanchine, and features former New York City Ballet principal dancer Charles Askegard. The last two performances are on Saturday, March 22, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Read more...


Repertory II Dazzles and Delights

SUSAN KEPECS |Cultural Oyster | Posted: March 25, 2014

I was dazzled by Madison Ballet's Repertory II concert at the Bartell last weekend (March 21-22). I attended the Saturday matinee. What a thrill, after this bitter winter (to too many dull, formulaic performances by other companies) to see dance that was magical and uplifting. The Repertory II program delivered three substantive short ballets that set the company's strong, polished dancers free, within the neoclassical canon and the parameters of the choreography, to let loose and dance for joy. Read more...

Madison Ballet's Slick Season Goes Out with a Bang

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster | Posted: March 9, 2014

Madison Ballet takes on Italian classics, Gershwin, and a snazzy '60s playlist for its Repertory 2 program, at the Bartell March 21-22. "Balanchine used to say 'dance is music made visible,'" says Madison Ballet artistic director W. Earle Smith, "and this is a music lover's performance." The program's three substantial, multi-movement works - two by Smith, and one by George Balanchine - shine a spotlight on the company's versatility. Read more...

Madison Ballet's 2013 Nutcracker Sparkles like Holiday Champagne

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster | Posted: December 19, 2013

Madison Ballet’s Nutcracker – I attended the opening night performance on Saturday, Dec. 14 – proves just how versatile this company’s become. Nut’s the traditional, neoclassical antithesis of the company’s blood-lusty, contemporary Dracula; if artistic director W. Earle Smith’s sexy vampires are for grownups, Nucracker’s a ballet for kids.  In the hands of Maestro John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Tchaikovsky’s oft-chiched score sparkles like newly fallen snow. Read More...

The snow scene is the ballet's loveliest.

Madison Ballet's The Nutcracker fills Overture Hall with magical characters, vibrant costumes, and gorgeous music and dancing

KATIE REISER | Isthmus | Posted: December 15, 2013

It might have been cold and gray outside, but the Madison Ballet production ofThe Nutcracker (through Dec. 24) made Overture Hall colorful and inviting on Saturday afternoon. The Madison Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John DeMain, sounded even better than last year. I may tire of hearing Tchaikovsky's famous score in holiday commercials, but I always find thrills in productions of his holiday ballet, both on the stage and in the orchestra pit. It was heartening to see the audience respond as enthusiastically to DeMain and his musicians as they did to the dancers. Read More...

©  John UrbanMadison Ballet perform Dracula

ROSAMARIA KOSTIC CISNEROS | Bachtrack | Posted: October 28, 2013

When we think of Rock and Roll, we think of non-conformity and going against the grain. Madison Ballet's second run of Dracula, choreographed by Artistic Director W. Earle Smith, was just that; a unique ballet with a fresh perspective, testing boundaries. It layered powerful Rock music, gravelly sets, graphic videos, and sensuous dancing, to tell the timeless story of DraculaRead More...

Will other midwest cities bite on Madison Ballet's 'Dracula'?

LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | 77 Square | Posted: October 28, 2013

In 2014-15, Madison Ballet may take an original production on tour for the very first time. The 32-year-old company premiered a new rock ballet, "Dracula," in March and brought it back last week for five performances in Overture's Capitol Theater. With sensual choreography by W. Earle Smith, a score composed by local rock musician Michael Massey and steampunk costumes by Karen Brown-Larimore, "Dracula" is a sexy, exciting new piece, one that Smith said is already drawing attention from arts centers in neighboring states. Read More...

Dracula: The Second Time Around

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster |Posted: October 22, 2013 

I'm head over heels in love with Dracula. The ballet, that is, choreographed by Madison Ballet artistic director W. Earle Smith. It celebrated its world premiere at Overture's Captiol Theater in March and made a four-day return run at the same venue last week(Weds.-Sat., Oct. 23-26). Forty-eight hours after leaving the theater I'm still dreaming in steampunk, and I can't get Michael Massey's brilliant rock n' roll ballet score, written specifically for this production, out of my head. Read More...

Steampunk rock ballet 'Dracula' returns to Overture in time for Halloween

LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | 77 Square | Posted: October 23, 2013

Madison Ballet took a major chance this spring when artistic director W. Earle Smith debuted an entirely new ballet from scratch. But "Dracula" was enthusiastically received by local critics, who praised the "daredevil solos," driving rock score by local musician Michael Massey and the sumptuous steampunk costumes by Karen Brown-Larimore. Read More...

A Rockin' Soundtrack for 'Dracula, a Rock Ballet'A Rockin' Soundtrack for 'Dracula, a Rock Ballet'

RICK TVEDT | Madison Magazine | Posted: May 24, 2013

The recent run of Dracula, A Rock Ballet at the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater was a smashing success. The critics praised it and many audience members went straight from the theater to the box office to buy tickets for subsequent performances. The rock-and-roll score was composed by Madison’s own Michael Massey...Read more...

CD Cover 277x274

MAMA PERFORMER - Soundtrack: Dracula, a Rock Ballet 

RICK TVEDT | Local Sounds Magazine | Posted: May 23, 2013

The March run of this very ambitious project at the Capitol Theater in March was a big hit. The shows were very well attended, the patrons lining up at the Overture Center box office afterward to buy more tickets for future performances. The soundtrack of one of the Dracula performances is now being released as a two-disc set on June 2 at the High Noon Saloon. Read more...

Dance Review: Madison Ballet's Spring Repertory Concert, "Exposed," Exposes Excellent Dancing

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster | Posted: April 21, 2013

I've alway loved repertory programs for the way they show dance, stripped to its basic elements, without the distracting noise of extravagant production. Madison Ballet's "Exposed," last weekend (April 19-20) at the Bartell, is the best such program the fast-rising company's done to date. Read more...

Madison Ballet Presents Exposed April 19-20 at the Bartell Theater

KIM STRAKA | PRESS RELEASE | Posted: April 9, 2013 

Madison Ballet's 2013 repertory program, Exposed, will be performed at the Bartell Theater, a new venue for the company, on April 19-20, 2013 and will feature the Madison premiere of George Balanchine's Valse-Fantaisie.

First performed in 1967, Valse-Fantaisie has been described as a spirited dance in which myriad steps and jumps are packed within a compressed time frame.  Attended by the male dancer, the ballerinas move together in a whirl of perpetual motion by entering and exiting repeatedly. George Balanchine, the co-founder and Ballet Master of New York City Ballet, is one of the 20th century's most well-known and highly regarded choreographers. Read more...

Madison Ballet's "Exposed" Pays Homage to Pure Dance

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster | Posted: April 7, 2013

The weekend after next - April 19-20, at the Bartell Theatre - you get to see dancers, exposed! Madison Ballet's dancers, to be precise, performing works from the company's repertory. No story, no elaborate production, no period costumes - just pure ballet.

Why is the Overture resident company swapping the snazzy performing arts palace for the funky little 200-seat Bartell for this show? Read more... 

Dance Review: Dracula!

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster | Posted: March 11, 2013

Madison Ballet artistic director W. Earle Smith took a big, bold risk with his all-new steampunk rock 'n' roll production of Dracula. It paid off, in spades. Not that th eballet I saw Friday night (Mar. 8) in Overture's Capitol Theater was perfect. Read more...


Dark new 'Dracula' drinks the blood of ballerinas

LINDSEY CHRISTIANS | 77 Square | Posted: March 9, 2013

Sex, sweat and camp mingle onstage this weekend in Madison Ballet's new production of "Dracula," a stylized vampire store that puts a swivel in the hips of the dancers.

With an electrified score by Michael Massey that recalls his days as a rock band frontman and sensuous choreography by artistic director W. Earle Smith, "Dracula" should attract an entirely different crowd than the pirouetting totas and their partents who return yearly to "Nutcracker." Read more...



Matthew Linzer is an imposing Dracula with swirling jackets and long locks.

Madison Ballet's Dracula pushes the envelope with daring solos, steampunk costumes and live rock 'n' roll

KATIE REISER | Isthmus | Posted: March 9, 2013

Madison Ballet's Friday-night performance of Dracula was met with a boisterous standing ovation and mutiple curtain calls. The obvious excitedment about the ballet, a multimedia affair with a live seven-piece rock band, video projections, flashing lights and provocative costumes was merited...Read more...


Madison Ballet stages 'Dracula' with original rock score

LINDSEY CHRISTIANS | 77 Square | Posted: March 7, 2013

Madison Ballet's newest work steps about as far away from sugar plums and snowflakes as it's possible to go.

With a pounding rock score, sensual, contemporary movement and an undead protagonist who preys upon the living, "Dracula" marks a movement toward the mature that has been a long time coming for the 30-year-old company. Read more...


Dracula Lives!

SUSAN KEPECS| Cultural Oyster | Posted: March 5, 2013

Vampires are coming - grab your garlic, protect your neck! Madison Ballet premieres its all-new production of Dracula this weekend (March 8-10) at Overture's Capitol Theater. Artistic director W. Earle Smith's choreographic take on Bram Stoker's famous 1897 Victorian Gothic horror story promises to be the wildest, most contemporary ballet this small gem of a company has done in its five short years of existence. Read more...


WEB_-_dracula'Dracula' brings new blood to Madison Ballet

MIKE MUCKIAN | Wisconsin Gazette | Posted: February 22, 2013

Leave it to the undead to help bring a struggling Madison arts company back to life.

Next month, the Madison Ballet will stage the world premiere of "Dracula: A Rock Ballet" at the Capitol Theater in Madison's Overture Center for the Arts. The two-hour original ballet, danced to a score by Madison composer Michael Massey, is the third of four works in the ballet's 2012-13 season - a season marked by expansion, new ballets and a return from the financial precipice, says W. Earle Smith, Madison Ballet's artistic director. Read more...


Madison Ballet Goes Dark with ‘Dracula’ Madison Ballet Goes Dark with "Dracula"

 KATIE VAUGHN | Madison Magazine | Posted: February 21, 2013

 If you tend to equate Madison Ballet with sugarplum fairies and dancing snowflakes, the company's latest production will rock you out of any preconceived notions.

 Dracula, running March 8-10 at Overture Center, is artistic director W. Earle Smith's brand-new creation-a seductive, dark, edgy and decidedly adult ballet that melds an intriguing variety of influences, from classic vampire tales to steampunk style to rock and roll. 

Smith recently took some time out to discuss the new work. Read more...


Rock Ballet Dracula to Premiere at the Overture Center March 8-10

KIM STRAKA | Press Release | Posted: February 6, 2013

(Madison, WI)  Dracula, an original rock ballet based on the Bram Stoker novel, will premiere March 8-10 at the Overture Center for the Arts.

The performance, nearly 5 years in the making for Madison Ballet’s Artistic Director W. Earle Smith, is a dark, high-volume mix of a rock concert and contemporary ballet, featuring a seven piece rock band that will play the original score on stage alongside the dancers.  The sets, designed by Jen Trieloff, and costumes, designed by Karen Brown-Larimore, are being created in the steampunk style, Smith’s unique twist on the Dracula story. Read more...


New life for the undead at Madison Ballet

GAYLE WORLAND | Wisconsin State Journal | Posted: Monday, October 29, 2012 at 7:00 am

Want to know Earle Smith's true identity? Think "Dracula." Not in the legendary-vampire sense. In the rock ballet sense. Smith, the artistic director of Madison Ballet, is in full-throttle creation mode with his dark new sexy, high-volume creation, a work that could redefine...Read more...

Recent Obsessions: Cat Power, 'The Nutty Nut,' 'Portlandia,' 'Gods of Gotham'

77 Square Staff | 77 Square | Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 11:00 am

Madison Ballet's W. Earle Smith took a risk with and over-the-top ridiculous version of "The Nutcracker," held on the Saturday night before Christmas. In "The Nutty Nut," Smith recast the party scene with Packer fans and sorority girls...Read more...

The Economy, The Arts, and the Best of 2012

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster | Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Instead of a top ten, I offer my super seven. For the first time ever there's only one dance performance on my best-of list - Madison Ballet's Nutcracker. Not because I love the holiday ballet (I don't), but because this company has grown into a real city treasure...Read more...

Madison Ballet's Mostly Hilarious Nutty Nut

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster | Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Lots of ballet companies across the country have taken to adding a Nutty Nut - a spoof on the beloved holiday ballet - to the long seasonal run. Nutty Nuts run on top of the traditional production, skaking up the storyline, swapping out parts of the Tchaikovsky's score for other sounds, sending up the popular culture...Read more...

Dance Review: Madison Ballet's Nutcracker, 2012

SUSAN KEPECS | Cultural Oyster | Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm 

Madison Ballet'Nutrcracker is what it is - a traditional choreographic take on the ballet that's become and American holiday staple and the cash cow for every company in the country - and, for lots of little kids, a chance to perform...Read more...

Artistic director W. Earle Smith's Balanchine-influenced choreography has its own distinctive voice, filled with lushness and romance.Madison Ballet bids adieu to a veteran ballerina in a magical production of The Nutcrakcer

KATIE REISER | Isthmus | Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

Friends ask if I get bored seeing multiple Nutcrackers each season, but I really don't. There are always new details to notice at the Madison Ballet's annual production of The Nutcracker, which opened yesterday and runs through Dec. 24 at Overture Hall...Read more...

Symphany breathes life into Madison Ballet's beautiful 'Nutcracker'

LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | 77 Square | Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012 9:00 am

Madison Ballet's annual production of "The Nutcracker" has gone without live music for the past three years, a cut made in part to keep the company solvent. This year, blessedly, an orchestra returns, a subset of the Madison Symphony Orchestra...Read more...

The Nutcracker

Madison Ballet celebrates 30 years with glittering 'Nutcracker'

LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | 77 Square | Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2011 8:30 am

There's a lot to love in Madison Ballet's annual production of "The Nutcracker," from the sparkling little pulcinellas under Mother Ginger's skirt to the sumptuous Tchaikovsky score. This year's production, running in Overture Hall through Dec. 26, marks 30 years since the ballet company incorporated as the Wisconsin Dance Ensemble..... Read more...

The Nutcracker

Madison Ballet's The Nutcracker charms and inspires


Katie Reiser on Sunday 12/18/2011 8:10 pm

Last year, The New York Times dance critic Alastair Macauley traveled the country to take in many versions of The Nutcracker, a sure prescription for Nutcracker burnout. But I would like to think if he'd seen a 30th anniversary performance by the Madison Ballet at the Overture Center... Read more...


Concerts on the Square

Concerts on the Square features ballet, Beatles in 27th season


By LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | The Capital Times | Posted: Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blankets form a patchwork quilt on the Capitol lawn. Little kids grasp balloons. Couples waltz to Strauss, friends chat too loudly (even heard over the “1812 Overture”) and bike racks are a mess of locks and wheels. The wine is flowing, and boxed dinners open to reveal summertime treats. Read more...



Madison Ballet takes on romance and the Bard


By LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | The Capital Times | Posted: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Madison Ballet's professional dancers will keep their toe shoes tapping in 2010-11 with three main stage productions, including a ballet version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Read more...



Strong 'Cinderella' seizes her prince in Madison Ballet's fine production


By LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | The Capital Times | Posted: Sunday, March 14, 2010

In the famous fairy tale, no one is looking at Cinderella's face — we're all looking at her feet. So it is in Madison Ballet's luxurious production, running through Sunday afternoon in Overture Hall. With gorgeous costumes, fluttering ballerinas and a large cast of small dancers (playing lightning bugs, bees, strawberries and moths), this “Cinderella” is a delightful trip into a fantasy world. Read more...



Madison Ballet presents lovely, lively 'Nutcracker'


By LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | The Capital Times | Posted: Saturday, December 19, 2009

In the opening scene of “The Nutcracker,” there is a tiny, sweet moment between young Clara and her father. With big sweeps of her arms and a beaming smile, Clara shows her dad how excited she is for Christmas: The friends! The toys! The tree! Read more...