2016-17 Master Class Series

Inspiring Classes for Dancers

Master Classes provide students with opportunities to train with nationally recognized guest artists and visiting dance professionals through partnerships with touring dance companies.


All master classes are free to SMB students enrolled in the School Division.
The minimum age requirement is 13 years old.
Regular Fee: $25 / Professional Rate: $15

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Michele Gifford Ballet

11 - 1 p.m., October 9, 2016

In her twelve year career at New York City Ballet, Michele Gifford performed soloist and principal roles including George Balanchine’s Apollo, Rubies, Agon, and Stars and Stripes. She also originated many roles, including Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, Christopher Wheeldon’s Slavonic Dances, and David Parsons’ Touch.

In 2000, Ms. Gifford joined Texas Ballet Theater under Ben Stevenson. She performed several principal roles, including Stevenson’s Coppelia, Four Last Songs, and Peer Gynt along with Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante and The Four Temperaments. She continues to perform as a Principal guest artist.

As a Balanchine Repetiteur, Ms. Gifford has staged and coached several ballets including Who Cares?, Walpurgisnaught, Serenade, and Valse-Fantaisie. She is a certified GYROTONIC instructor and owns her own studio, Studio G, in Fort Worth, TX. 2016 will mark the fourth time Ms. Gifford will stage a George Balanchine work on Madison Ballet for the George Balanchine Trust©.

Marlene Skog Ballet

11:30 - 1 p.m., November 12, 2016

Marlene Skog's (Artistic Director) career as a performer, award-winning choreographer and teacher spans over thirty years at home and abroad. A native New Yorker, she holds an M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Arizona, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Skog's experience as a freelance artist is vast, with great inspiration from Europe. She worked in Sweden for fourteen years as dancer, teacher and choreographer, where she directed an international dance company and founded Uppsala Dansakademi. Ms. Skog has been choreographer for several official cultural events including the International Arts Festival- Norway, Scandinavian Cultural Conference, and the International Women's Convention at Uppsala University.

Ms. Skog was awarded several unique honors for a non-Swedish citizen, including the prestigious, Peoples University Cultural Prize, Gosta Knuttson Cultural Award and NordBanken's Cultural Award. Ms. Skog's work address the enduring question of what it means to be human and is purposeful in its strong synthesis of movement, music and message.

Jessica Duplessis Contemporary

11:30 - 1:30 p.m., January 7, 2017

Jessica Duplessis is the Artistic Director of Raw Inspirations Dance Company. She graduated from Keene State College in Keene NH with a degree in Theatre Dance and Film, and has been an important part of the dance community in Madison since her arrival in 2007. 

AJ Juarez Hip-Hop

11:30 - 1:30 pm., February 11, 2017

AJ (Ariel Juarez) a native of Argentina, has been dancing for 17 years. He began his training in Latin ballroom, but quickly discovered a love for Hip Hop, Contemporary, musical theatre and modern styles. Mr. Juarez studied dance at the Julio Bocca School of Musical Theatre and began performing in productions of Applause and Aladdin in Argentina's Broadway. He was a member of Chet Walker's Fosse company and became a featured dancer on Royal Caribbean Cruises and Celebrity Cruises. Mr. Juarez recently performed and choreographed for Carnival L.A and Millennium Experience also in L.A.

As a teacher Mr. Juarez has worked in “Millennium Dance Complex Chicago” Millennium dance complex L.A, one of the most recognized dance studio brands world wide. He currently teaches at the University of Madison, MPDC, MPA and KP dance studios in Madison.

Mr. Juarez continues his training to this day with trips to Los Angeles, Argentina, and New York because he feels a dancer can always improve. Mr. Juarez is excited to keep sharing his passion for dance.


Tania Tandias Flamenco

11:30 - 1:30 p.m., March 4, 2017

Tania Tandias studied flamenco, Spanish classical, and escuela bolera with two of the top flamenco dancers in the United States today, Pablo Rodarte and Eva Enciñias-Sandoval, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ms. Tandias has performed with Maria Benitez's Nuevo Flamenco in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Albuquerque-based Alma Flamenca, which performed in local venues, festivals, schools, and in the internationally acclaimed Festival Flamenco Internacional.

She has also performed in faculty concerts at the University of New Mexico and in the opera Carmen. In Madison, Wisconsin, she has been introducing, through performing and teaching, the beauty and passion of flamenco and Spanish dance to fellow Wisconsinites.  In addition to numerous festivals, private parties, and lecture-demonstrations, Ms. Tandias has recently choreographed and danced in pieces for The Madison Opera, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, The Milwaukee Ballet, and The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, whose program Vivo Flamenco was shown on Wisconsin Public Television.

*Character shoes and skirt are recommended but not required to attend this Master Class.

Jin-Wen Yu Modern/Contemporary

11:30 - 1:30 p.m., April 22, 2017

Jin-Wen Yu, EdD & MFA, has created, performed, directed, and produced more than 100 works for the stage in the Americas and Asia, including 40 commissioned works for professionals and institutes. Dr. Yu has also presented, performed, and taught at dance festivals both nationally and internationally.

In 1999, he founded the Madison-based Jin-Wen Yu Dance, a company that has performed throughout the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Yu has received numerous grants, honors, commissions, residencies, and awards such as the NEA grant, Outstanding Dance Artist Award from Taiwan, Wisconsin Arts Board Choreographer Award, the first Madison CitiARTS, Commission Signature Grant, Chinese Information and Culture Center in New York, and Dane County Arts among others.

Dr. Yu was invited to perform at UNESCO in Paris for the Celebration Concert of the 2005 International Dance Day. His works and performances have been praised in The Boston Globe, LA Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle. Dr. Yu currently serves as the President of World Dance Alliance-Americas.

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Madison Ballet’s company members and artistic staff are also available to visit your dance studio or conference for hands-on workshops with students.
For more information call 608.278.7790.
Classes are held in Madison Ballet’s Westgate Studios.