Founder and Artistic Director
Abigail grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania where she trained at the Lake Erie Ballet. At the age of 18, Ms. Henninger received her first contract and immediately started performing professionally. Ms. Henninger has danced professionally with Madison Ballet, Missouri Ballet Theatre, and Sarasota Ballet, and has had guest appearances with Hosanna Sacred Arts, Master Works Festival, Neglia Ballet, and Suzanne Farrell Ballet in conjunction with the Sarasota Ballet. Abigail has also had the privilege of performing at the Kennedy Center. Ms. Henninger has had the opportunity to perform some of the great works of renowned choreographers such as Christopher Wheeldon, John Cranko, George Balanchine, Sir Frederick Ashton, Mathew Bourne, Andre Prokovsky, and many more. She has been blessed to perform lead roles in ballets such as "Who Cares", "Giselle", "Swan Lake", and "Les Patineurs". Some favorite ballets from her repertoire include: "There Where She Loved" by Christopher Wheeldon, “Nuoto” by W. Earle Smith, "Zelophehad" by Steve Rooks and "Checkmate" by Ninette de Valois’.
As a choreographer, Abigail has been able to set original works on Missouri Ballet Theatre, Hosanna Sacred Arts, Saving Grace Dance Ensemble, Arova Contemporary Ballet, Dancers of the Madison Ballet and various schools across the country.
She is the founder of Magnum Opus and serves the company as both a dancer and the artistic director. During the premier season of Magnum Opus, she was able to set eleven new works and one full length ballet. While in their second and third seasons Ms. Henninger set several brand new pieces, a full-length production and the expansion of multiple existing works. Ms. Henninger has quickly developed a choreographic presence in Madison as "Having a knack for creating pleasing shapes with the dancers’ bodies and exploring the nuances of the score" mentioned by Madison's Isthmus. Ms. Henninger is thankful for the support of so many loved ones who have helped her put Magnum Opus into being and is ecstatic to begin season four in the fall of 2020. Abigail wants to give all the glory back to her Creator for giving her the beautiful gift of dance.
Nellie is a Madison area native who studied for 14 years at Dance Studio 3-D. She received her BFA degree in Art Therapy from Edgewood College. Over the years, Nellie has enjoyed choreographing for numerous groups including First Wing Family Theater and the Awana Angels at Ridgeway Church as well as sharing dance with youth in Malawi, Africa and at The Bayview Foundation in Madison, WI.
Nellie performed with Liz Sexe Dance in "Sighs Too Deep for Words" and as choreographer/dancer at Victory Center Church in Madison. She has a passion for sharing dance with people of all ages and abilities as well as exploring movement in prophetic worship. Nellie joined the trainee leadership team in 2019 and is beyond delighted to be working with Magnum Opus for another season.
Alexsandra began her dance training at age three in Sun Prairie, WI. At age eight, she moved to Dance Studio 3-D where she stayed through high school. She has been called “fearless” in her dancing. Her training consists of ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, musical theatre, and acrodance. Alexsandra has participated in multiple summer programs throughout middle school and high school. These include Dance Masters of Wisconsin in Madison for six years and Chicago National Association of Dance Masters in Chicago for three years, as well as many master classes. Alexsandra choreographed her first solo at age nine. Since then, she has choreographed for musicals, other solo and group work. Alexsandra was accepted to and attended the Ruth Page Summer intensive in 2018.
While still in high school, Alexsandra started teaching classes at Studio 3-D in Deerfield Wisconsin. She taught a range of ages from eight to eighteen in the same class. Alexsandra has also taught summer classes in ballet and pointe.
At Northern Illinois University, she studied with Judith Chitwood, Paula Frasz, Richard Grund, Marc Macaranas, and Jessica Tomlinson. Her previous training was with Debra Griggas, Josh Hayes, Palmer Mathews, Liz Sexe, and Jennifer Stewart. While at NIU, she was cast in classical, contemporary and modern works. She had the honor of being selected by Susan Wincek as one of seven dancers to be part of a traditional Spanish dance utilizing shawls and castanets in 2018. In 2019, she was one of eight dancers to be cast in Joel Hall’s “Etude in Jazz #6” that was set on NIU students.
Alexsandra thanks God for her many blessings and is excited to be part of Magnum Opus and work with the trainees in the 2020/2021 season!
Photo Credit: Halo Digital Photography
Karen grew up in Ames, IA, where she began her dance training at the Robert Thomas Dancenter. She fell in love with ballet there and has been dancing ever since, even through university and graduate school. While living in Chicago, IL for graduate school she continued advanced ballet training as part of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts Young Dancer Program. She loves both the technical challenge of ballet, as well as dance as a form of expression, and especially hopes to pass that on through her teaching. When she isn’t in the dance studio, Karen also enjoys doing graphic design and illustration, as well as music production, and singing and playing the piano.
Originally from Oklahoma City, Melissa Mendl is a professional dancer/choreographer/teacher currently based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Melissa is an honor graduate of Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor of Performing Arts Degree in Dance Performance and has been a professional entertainer for over 17 years performing worldwide with Andy Williams, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Regent Seven Seas and Holland-America Cruise Lines, Ballet Oklahoma (now OKC Ballet) and Tulsa Ballet Theatre. Melissa is a passionate teacher and continues to travel around the U.S. as a guest artist, choreographer, and master teacher. Ms. Mendl has taught at The Kehl School of Dance (Madison), The Lawrence Arts Centre (Lawrence KS), The Culture House (Kansas City), Midwest Dance Revolution (Branson, MO), Ballet Oklahoma, and The Classical Ballet School (Oklahoma City). Currently, Melissa is the Sacred Dance Artist in Residence at Midvale Community Lutheran having previously ministered at Shawnee Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City. Melissa is thrilled to be a part of Magnum Opus and is honored to be teaching and instructing in any way that she can.
Livia, originally from São Paulo, Brazil, moved to Wisconsin in 2009. She received her training in classical ballet through the RAD method, graduating from RAD level 8. She danced professionally in Brazil from 2007-2009 and started teaching again in 2014 after she moved to the United States.
Livia's sources of inspiration have truly influenced the type of dancer and type of teacher she is today. Growing up, her biggest inspirations were always her parents and her teachers. The sacrifices her parents made to make sure she was able to dance inspired her to be the best she could be. The passion and commitment her teachers had for sharing their lives and passion with their students inspired Livia to do the same.
Julia Fixel grew up in Russia where she began her formal training. She continued to dance professionally and teach at State University of Novosibirsk, Russia until she moved to Madison in 1997. Here she danced with Kanopy School and SMARTDANCE Company. At present, Julia works as a Physician Assistant at UWHC and enjoys dancing with Ballet U, Verona Youth Ballet, Madison Ballet and Magnum Opus.