A Brief History of the Bolender Center

In August 2011, Kansas City Ballet opened the doors of their first permanent home, the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity.

The former Union Station Power House, is named for former Artistic Director Emeritus Todd Bolender, who incidentally was born in 1914—the same year this building was built. Bolender, a former dancer and choreographer with George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, led the company from 1980 to 1995.

For nearly six years, Kansas City Ballet has enjoyed the Bolender Center and its seven studios, including the 180-seat Michael and Ginger Frost Studio Theater. The latter serves as the venue for KC Ballet’s annual New Moves program, as well as Second Company, Kansas City Youth Ballet, Kansas City Ballet School and other community group performance space. It also shares the same specs as the Muriel Kauffman Theatre stage—making it ideal for company rehearsals.

Bolender Center Lobby. Photographer Cody Lovetere
Bolender Center Lobby. Photographer Cody Lovetere

There are still remnants of the building’s past when you look up at the yam colored coal shoots that now serve as light fixtures. Long gone is the 250′ chimney. It was taken down in the 1975 to prevent damage from it eventually falling on its own. Gone also is the tree that used to grace the roof in the 90s. After nearly six years, and a great urban renaissance in Kansas City, it’s hard to imagine KC Ballet’s home anywhere else.

In addition to administrative and rehearsal space for the company, the Bolender Center also houses Kansas City Ballet School’s downtown campus. From academy programs for ages 3-18 including a new daytime program for serious students ages 11-18, to junior studio and adult studio classes, the Bolender Center is ‘Always On’.

More References

For more history about Kansas City Ballet, please click here.

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