Meet the Dancer Behind Milwaukee Ballet’s ‘Peter Pan’

Barry Molina returns to the show, this time as the lead.


In 2011, Barry Molina didn’t know if he was going to keep dancing. The 18-year-old had studied at New York City’s School of American Ballet and had spent the previous year in the second company at the Milwaukee Ballet, understudying. Despite dancing since he was 6 years old, he was losing his drive and couldn’t quite envision a career in it anymore. He was understudying the role of Peter’s Shadow for the world premiere of Michael Pink’s Peter Pan. On the day of the first performance, the main company dancer had to drop out due to a health issue and Molina was called up.  

 “It was a little bit of a surprise to me,” Molina says. “We walked through the steps right before the show, and they put me on stage. … That moment, for me, was a turning point. It pushed me to want to do ballet as a career, just because it was so challenging and exciting.”

Barry Molina; Photo by Aliza Baran



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Molina was promoted to the company that same year and went on to many roles, one of the most popular being Fritz in the Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker. In 2020, he was promoted to a leading artist at the Ballet, and 10 years after his first big role here, he was cast in Peter Pan again – this time as the lead.  

 “Barry’s always been a Peter Pan in waiting,” says Pink, the Ballet’s artistic director.  Unfortunately, COVID shut the production down, but now, two years later, it and Molina are back. “I feel much more prepared to do it now,” Molina says. He is looking forward to the ballet’s inventive flying sequences, in which he’ll be lifted by cables, dancing while being pulled across the stage.   

“Barry’s accurate and detailed, and those are qualities that make him stand out,” Pink says. “I promoted him to a leading artist for exactly those reasons – he leads by the example of his daily work and dedication to his art form.” 

See Peter Pan at Uihlein Hall, May 11-14.

Culture by the Numbers

In a season, Milwaukee Ballet’s female dancers tear through at least  300 pairs of pointe shoes. More, if the lineup is particularly demanding.  

Barry Molina; Photo by Aliza Baran


Barry Molina’s Spring Arts Event Pick

Pink Martini  


Molina’s interest in this jazz ensemble was sparked when their music was featured in the Milwaukee Ballet’s 2014 production of Something Borrowed. Catch this concert by the talented, genre-fusing group. 



This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s February issue.

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Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.