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Backstage with...Mark Mittlestadt

Being the father of an MYB company member has given entrepreneur, small business owner, and motorcycle mechanic Mark Mittlestadt new ways to connect his talents and expertise to our community's art scene--and to his daughter's passion for dance.

Over the past few years, he's helped the volunteers and theatre tech professionals build sets. "I work with my mind and hands to help people solve mechanical puzzles in old machines," explained Mark, "and as a volunteer with MYB, I've been able to take on challenges related to creative conceptualization and construction, without the constraints or expectations of a paid position. That gives me the freedom to see the production from a different perspective and add meaningful input about aesthetic aspects and functional and safe design elements and then help bring the ideas to life on the stage."

Logistics may not be the most glamorous part of the ballet; still, as Mark said, "The sets need to be transported and stored in an organized manner so can be used again. Many hands make light work."

"Volunteering with MYB gives me a greater appreciation of the big picture inside the workings of a non-profit," noted Mark. "It takes a talented team to manage MYB and create the ballet productions enjoyed by the community. This couldn’t happen without countless volunteers, who put in a tremendous amount of time and effort behind the scenes."

It's a lot of work, but for Mark, it means he's able to enjoy the performances with a new appreciation for how all of the moving parts come together.

Mark has watched his daughter gain strength, patience, confidence, and more under the guidance of MYB's Artistic Director Jeanette Makaroff. "It’s one thing for our daughters to learn classical ballet, another to find within themselves an appreciation for this talent, their grace, and poise… and as they mature, a more clear facet, young women carrying themselves with aplomb," he observed, "but it is especially meaningful as a dad to see our daughter embody these attributes in her life where she has the opportunity and ability to share these gifts through teaching younger students in the Makaroff School of Ballet and through her own advocacy, where she's beginning to volunteer in ways that help introduce ballet to children without access to professional instruction."

"Surely, every parent wants to provide opportunities for their children to grow through healthy and fulfilling experiences," said Mark. "My wife Sara and I are very fortunate that we’re able to help create a positive experience in MYB for the entire company. I encourage other parents to volunteer as they're able so that their children see them putting their talents to use in ways that literally and figuratively set the stage for their ballet ambitions."

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