- Associated Press - Sunday, June 24, 2018

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - The newly crowned Miss Minnesota plans to use her platform to spread her love of dance.

Michaelene Karlen was crowned Miss Minnesota 2018 on June 16, The Post Bulletin reported .

The 23-year-old is a professional dancer with the Alternative Motion Project in Minneapolis and owns a hand-crafted skincare business called Ballerina Botanicals. She started a series of dance workshops last year in preparation for the competition.

“I wanted to take my career as a professional dancer and my entrepreneurial drive as a small business owner and give back to my state through my art and my passion, which is dance,” Karlen said.

She accepts students of all ages, genders and abilities at her one-hour Raise the Barre classes.

“It’s a pun on the ballet bar,” Karlen said of the name for her project. “It’s about bringing it up another level. I want to help students gain all these skills that I gained through dance and to raise their own bar through the art of dance.”

She’s taught more than 1,500 students at almost 20 schools and disability centers in the state. Karlen said she hopes the classes show that “dance is for everyone.”

Karlen will spend her year as Miss Minnesota taking her workshops around the state. She also plans to hold benefit concerts to give her students the chance to perform on stage and raise money for scholarships to attend local dance studios.

“I’m so excited to be Miss Minnesota,” Karlen said, “and I cannot wait to get my year started.”

Karlen will compete in the Miss American competition in New Jersey in September.

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Information from: Post-Bulletin, http://www.postbulletin.com

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