5 Key Elements of the 2017 Summer Intensive Program

1: todd bolender center for dance & creativity

The student dancers have arrived and the former Union Station Power House has become their new home for the next few weeks. From the moment they first walked in and saw the light fixtures that used to be operating coal shoots, remnants of 103 years of history were evident.

These past six years, Kansas City Ballet has been thrilled to call the Bolender Center home—the Summer Intensive attendees will soon feel the same. With seven studios, including the 180-seat Michael and Ginger Frost Studio Theater, there is plenty of space to enjoy their time here.


2: Dance Faculty

Throughout the five weeks with KCBS, Kansas City Ballet faculty and guest teachers play a significant role in the students’ overall experience. Students are really breaking out of their normal routines and getting exposed to different teaching styles.

Iliana Lopez
2017 Summer Intensive Guest Instructor Iliana Lopez

Guest teaching artists for summer 2017:

Karin Averty, Former Paris Opera Ballet Premiere Danseuse

Laszlo Berdo, Former Boston Ballet Principal Dancer

Tina LeBlanc, Former San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer

Iliana Lopez, Former Miami City Ballet Principal Dancer

Connor Walsh, Houston Ballet Principal Dancer


Kansas City Ballet faculty include:

Devon Carney, KCB Artistic Director

Grace Holmes, School Director

Kristi Capps, Ballet Master

Parrish Maynard, Ballet Master

Anthony Krutzkamp, Second Company Manager

Kimberly Cowen, Upper School Principal and Youth Ballet Director

Sean Duus, Full-Time Faculty

Racheal Nye, Full-Time Faculty

Dmitry Trubchanov, Men’s Program Coordinator

Paula Weber, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Chair

David Justin, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Faculty

Sabrina Madison-Cannon, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Faculty

Tobin James, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Faculty

And all classes during the program will be accompanied by Kansas City Ballet School Pianists and Accompanists.


 3: Meeting Fellow Students

Of the more than 180 students for 2017, more than half stay in the dorms at the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Missouri—Kansas City. The remaining students are a mix of KCBS students and others from the region and beyond. Many of the program attendees have traveled to the Kansas City Ballet from 33 different states across the country, two even journeyed from Bulgaria. With such a variety of backgrounds but the common thread of ballet, these dancers are sure to connect with each other.


 4: Exploring Kansas City

While visiting Kansas City, there are plenty of exciting attractions for the students to explore in their free time including watching the 2015 World Series Champion Royals play, cheering on the Sporting KC soccer team, attending KC Dance Festival at the historic Folly Theater, taking in a musical outdoors at Starlight Theatre and more. Enthusiasm for true blue KC is sure to take hold.

And last not but least the reason the dancers are here at Kansas City Ballet…


5: Dancing, Dancing, Dancing

Kansas City Ballet’s Summer Intensive will not only help students grow as a dancers, but as people as well. With the warm, passionate atmosphere at the Bolender Center, dedicated dancers will feel at home. From the variety of classes, faculty, and the beautiful facility, the Summer Intensive program will be five weeks well spent. Let’s dance!

Good luck, dancers!

KCBS Student Profile: Emma Heithoff

Kansas City Ballet Student Emma Heithoff. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Beginning to take dance classes at only 3 years old has paid off for Kansas City Ballet School student, Emma Heithoff. After attending dance schools in Waukee and Des Moines, Iowa, Emma was able to begin training in the Academy’s Daytime Program. This program offers daily classes from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and is for ballet students who are looking for more hours of intensive training as compared to those offered in the afternoon program.

After attending the 2015 and 2016 Summer Intensive programs, Emma was thrilled to return to the Kansas City Ballet. “While I didn’t believe my experience could possibly get better, this past summer provided even more opportunity by allowing me to hear about the Daytime Program,” she said. “I believe this summer program is extremely appealing with its emphasis on strong technique, expression through the upper body, and versatility as a dancer with the plethora of classes offered.” One of Emma’s major influences was her summer teacher, Racheal Nye. “I really enjoy how she brings the idea of how strong technique should always be a priority while teaching in a tough yet extremely motivating way,” she said.


Since joining the Daytime Program with the Kansas City Ballet, Emma has already identified significant benefits. “I have loved the opportunity to have two-hour technique classes followed by one-hour pointe classes and other electives every single day,” she said. “This gives each of us the ability to improve at a faster rate than we were previously with the addition of more hours spent in the studio.”


Throughout the course of a new program, struggles are bound to occur. “I have definitely experienced a number of challenges including some issues with my back and feet while also learning how to manage injuries while dancing for so many hours,” Emma said. “Even with a higher pain tolerance after dancing since I was young, I have learned many different self-care practices in both injury prevention and taking care of myself in order to stay healthy and continue doing what I love.”

“I have also faced the challenges of continuing to fix bad habits while trying not to become frustrated when I do not see immediate progress,” she said. As these endeavors have not been easy for Emma, she has learned they can be rewarding.  “Throughout working through these challenges, I feel as if I have developed some valuable skills to help me through both my dancing and events outside of the studio.”


Kansas City Youth Ballet performance of "Giselle". Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Kansas City Youth Ballet performance of “Giselle”. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Since joining the Academy’s Daytime Program, Emma has been offered many exciting opportunities. These include performing with the professional company as an Angel in The Nutcracker, as a Courtier and a member of the “Garland Waltz” in The Sleeping Beauty, and a significant role in the Kansas City Youth Ballet’s performance of Giselle. “This past semester, I had the opportunity to perform the Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle as well as a neoclassical pas in a work choreographed by Dillon Malinski,” she said. “I have never been cast in a performing pas de deux before this year, so this was an extremely fun opportunity to work on my partnering in two completely different pieces of repertoire.”


Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Did You Know? Sculptures at Bolender Center

“Dreaming About” by sculptor: Rafael Muyor. A Gift from Miller and Jeannette Nichols.

Stationed on the Mezzanine in the Bolender Center, you’ll find two bronze statues of female dancers that are so lifelike it’s common for them to be mistaken for real dancers. “Dreaming About” and “Unbearable Elevation” are the work of sculptor Rafael Muyor.

Both Muyor sculptures were graciously donated to Kansas City Ballet by Miller and Jeannette Nichols in 1999. Prior to that, they had been displayed at the Nichols’ office on the Country Club Plaza.

Kansas City Ballet is grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Nichols for their ongoing support.

“Unbearable Elevation” by sculptor: Rafael Muyor. A Gift from Miller and Jeannette Nichols.

Rafael Muyor, Sculptor

Rafael Muyor was born in Madrid, Spain in 1943. He studied Industrial Design in Madrid, and then traveled to Milan and Paris where he perfected his technique of modeling. His work with bronze creates organic sculptures with volume and movement. Muyor breaks the coldness of the metal, giving his works great warmth and stunning realism.

Muyor has had solo exhibitions in Segovia, Salamanca, Malaga and Madrid, as well as in the Gallery Seiquer. His work has also been found in Gallery Four Seventeen. He has participated in, among others, the First Biennial for Plastic Arts Segovia in 1981; at Arch 1985 and 1989; Art London, Saga 1990, and 1992; Art Miami 1992, and 1996. His most recent works have been shown in the Municipal Center for the Arts – Alcorcón 2001 and at the Galería Leandro Navarro in the fall of 2006.



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.

Event Recap: Second Company @ Home

Second Company Dancers. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
Second Company Dancers. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

On April 28th, for the first time, Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company headlined their own show at home at the Bolender Center called, appropriately, @ Home. This program was performed again a week later at 1900 Building off of Shawnee Mission Parkway.

In an interview, KC Ballet’s Second Company Manager Anthony Krutzkamp had this to say:

For me, what was great about this show was seeing the growth of the dancers through this season.  I couldn’t help but think about how far they have come since KC Dance Day (Aug. 27, 2016)!  I believe for others watching the show it would be the diversity of the program.  They performed everything from classical to contemporary that night.

How does this experience help these dancers grow? What are you hoping they are getting out of this experience? Putting the Second Company in a position to “carry” an evening by themselves puts them on a platform (and pressure) that the company members experience.  They are coached in principal/soloist roles and have to embody those roles in front of an audience, with lights, and costumes.  My hope is that when they do transition to a company they will have this experience to pull from and will have the confidence to do well!

Second Company Dancers. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
Second Company Dancers. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

How did you put this program together? What were your reasons for these works in this order? The contemporary part of the show came from all of our work this season with different galleries and museums around town.  I set the classical portion to fit our dancers strengths and weaknesses.  The order of the program was made with necessity and flow.  I needed to make sure 15 dancers were safe for that amount of time dancing while giving the best ebb and flow for the evening.

 Anything else you’d like to share about this group and/or this season of work/experiences?

I am amazingly proud of this group. They pulled off some great shows and gained some real fans this season.

 What do you look forward to next season?

 I am hoping to get out in our community even more!  I don’t see the second company slowing down anytime soon!

Event Recap: Kansas City Youth Ballet’s “Giselle” April 21-23

Kansas City Youth Ballet Dancers performing “Giselle” | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

The 2016-2017 Kansas City Youth Ballet (KCYB) dancers completed their spring performances recently. The program was titled Giselle but included much more:

  • Giselle choreographed by Jules Perrot & Jean Coralli and staged by Kimberly Cowen and Marcus Oatis
  • Age of Angels choreographed by David Justin
  • Part Ways, choreographed by Elaine Kimble-Peaks
  • Affettuoso, choreographed by Dillon Malinski


“Giselle is a huge part of dance history. The importance of this piece and the value of this experience for these students can not be underestimated,” said KCYB Director and Upper School Principal Kimberly Cowen.

Kansas City Youth Ballet Dancers performing “Giselle” | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Giselle was first performed in 1841 and it is one of the greatest romantic-era ballets. It’s interesting to see a work so steeped in history be performed on the same program as a brand new contemporary work. Cowen is a firm believer that student dancers develop best when they are challenged by a variety of dance styles and pieces. This program was created to give opportunities to learn from different choreographers while performing classical as well as modern works.

Contemporary Works

David Justin, Adjunct Professor at University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance and KCBS Men’s Coordinator, set a very mature contemporary work on the students with Age of Angels. The students had to stretch their knowledge of steps beyond what they’d learned in class to achieve his vision.

In Elaine Kimble-Peaks’ Part Ways, the students learned new skills including lifts executed with an all female cast–something not always seen in dance.

“Peak comes from a very modern and contemporary background,” said Cowen. “She worked so well with the kids and they really respected the process. She saw their talents differently than we sometimes do as ballet-focused teachers. This gave the students a chance to rise to a new challenge, and it was easy to see their enjoyment and investment in her piece.”

Affetuoso closed the show. Created and staged on the youth company by Dillon Malinski, current Kansas City Ballet company dancer and teacher for KCBS. Working with a current professional dancer has its perks. He was high-energy and able to show the dancers exactly what he wanted from them.

All in all the program was an inspiring way to end the season!

School Notes: Character Dance Training for Teachers

When Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) teacher Racheal Nye wanted to find a workshop to augment her character teaching, her searches came up empty.

As a full-time ballet teacher, character training is very important to really help students develop the nuances of character dances in ballets like Giselle, Swan Lake, among others. Typically character dances represent cultural regions and include subtle nuances that give clues to the lands and people they represent.

“Character Dance class is really only used for ballet, but when I couldn’t find any training courses out there for teachers I was still surprised. So, I did what anyone would do, I decided to find a way to create one,” Nye said.

Nye found a respected character expert, Inna Stabrova, and invited her to lead a 13-hour teaching workshop June 12-14 at the Bolender Center. This workshop is open to any interested dance teachers. At the completion of the workshop, teachers will earn certification in Character Dance.

Download the flier here. For more information on schedule, accommodations, or further questions please contact Racheal Nye at Rnye@kcballet.org.

To learn more about character dances, Dance Studio Life has an interesting article here.

who can benefit?

Lisa Sirridge, a teacher in Kansas City Ballet Schools Studio Division: “My interest in attending the Character Training Workshop stems from when I had the opportunity to perform character dance. It was first introduced to me through Tatiana Dokoudovska when I danced with the Kansas City Civic Ballet [which later became Kansas City Ballet]. It was always a style of dance I enjoyed along with ballet. I also have a very strong eastern European heritage and many of my family members were involved with the Tamburitzans, a group of Croatian musicians, singers and folk dancers. Growing up with this style of folk dance, I quickly saw a connection with character dance. Even though character dance is a subdivision of classical dance, you could still see a little bit of the eastern European flavor. My hope through this training is to learn the proper technique and to learn about the many different styles of character dance. Most of what was taught to me was through choreography and not in a formal class.”

It’s not just teachers who can benefit from character dance training. Yee-Sik Wong, an accompanist from Kansas City Ballet School also plans to attend: “I have never played for a character class before, but I know they use very specific music like Czardas, Russian dance music, Ukrainian music, etc. that are not very often used in a ballet class. I will have opportunity to play for character classes this summer, so I think it is time for me to learn more about the music used in character class and start building up my repertoire for character class.”

Inna Stabrova Biography

State Vaganova Ballet Academy

Vaganova School of Choreography

Master’s Degree: Odessa Choreographic Institute Ukraine

View clips of Inna’s Character Instructional Videos

2017 Ballet Ball Honorary Chairmen Announced

Honorary Chairmen Tom and Loren Whittaker. Photo by Larry F. Levenson.

The Diamond Ball is presented by Kansas City Ballet Guild in support of Kansas City Ballet programs and scholarships. This year’s Ball will kick off and celebrate Kansas City Ballet’s 60th Diamond Jubilee Season!

In anticipation of such an exciting season, Kansas City Ballet Guild is pleased to announce long-time supporters of the Kansas City Ballet and generous members of the Kansas City community Loren and Tom Whittaker as Honorary Chairmen for The Diamond Ball.

The 2017 Ballet Ball Honorary Chairmen, Tom and Loren Whittaker, as well as Ball Chairmen, Mike and Melanie Fenske, would like to invite one and all to join them for an evening of cocktails, exquisite cuisine, and dancing on Saturday, October 7, 2017, at the InterContinental Kansas City At The Plaza.

For more information and ticket purchases, please go to www.kcballetball.org.

Director’s Choice Highlights

Kansas City Ballet closes it’s 59th season this coming weekend May, 19-21 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Don’t miss the chance to see three incredible works by masters of ballet: Jerome Robbins, Val Caniparoli, and George Balanchine.

Youth and whimsy take center stage in the show’s opener, Interplay, by Jerome Robbins and set to music from Morton Gould.

Complex emotions rule during Val Caniparoli’s The Lottery based on the shocking short story by Shirley Jackson and performed to Robert Moran’s incredible score.

Dancers Taryn Mejia and James Kirby Rogers in “The Lottery.” Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Grandeur reigns supreme in Balanchine’s Theme and Variations which is expertly set to Tchaikovsky’s powerful score.

Dancers Tempe Ostergren and Liang Fu in “Theme and Variations.” Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Read reviews here: The Star and KC Metropolis.

Visit kcballet.org for tickets and more info.



Sponsor Spotlight: Onelife Fitness KC


KCB Dancer Lilliana Hagerman at Onelife Fitness KC. Photography by Lamin Pereira dos Santos
KCB Dancer Lilliana Hagerman at Onelife Fitness KC. Photography by Lamin Pereira dos Santos

Dancers are athletes. Very flexible, strong athletes.

Their days begin with a 90-minute ballet class to prepare their bodies to work. The rest of their full-time job Tuesday through Saturday is to learn and rehearse upcoming ballets. Even after such an active job, most find it helpful to fit in some additional fitness routines outside of the studios as well.

According to Kansas City Ballet dancers Lilliana Hagerman and Lamin Pereira dos Santos, working out in a gym can be a great addition to their fitness routine to help bolster their stamina—an important feat for dancers used to pushing themselves on stage.

“If I have a really hard ballet coming up, I go to the gym to pump up my stamina level and try to work on muscles that might be getting weak too quickly,” admits Lilliana.

On Mondays Lamin likes to take the “Circuit Circus” class at Onelife Fitness, downtown. This cardio class combines exercises for upper body, legs and abs with about 10 different stations with 10 different exercises. Each are executed for 30 seconds, than participants rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next station. There are four rounds. “I take this class to build stamina in a different way than I am used to and it helps me a lot,” Lamin says.

Both Lilliana and Lamin speak very highly of Onelife, especially the location which is very convenient for downtown dwellers like them. But their appreciation of the facility and its staff goes beyond location.

“I would most definitely recommend Onelife,” says Lilliana. “They have such a variety of machines and classes to help anyone accomplish their goals.”

Onelife Fitness Sponsors KCB

As part of their sponsorship, Onelife Fitness KC, generously provides annual memberships for the ballet’s professional Company of dancers and artistic leadership. Onelife also is one of the supporting sponsors for Kansas City Ballet’s Director’s Choice performances that open tonight and run through May 21 at the Kauffman Center.

“We are truly honored to help play a role in providing a facility and programs to help assist the talented athletes of Kansas City Ballet,” says Bryan Bullock Community Relations Manager of Onelife Fitness KC. “This partnership makes great sense to us as our vision is to create a healthier, happier, overall more well city.”

Onelife Fitness KC is a valued Trade Partner of Kansas City Ballet, and the Official Fitness Club. We are grateful for their history of support—since 2015.

“The arts and health and wellness are both such integral components to the overall wellbeing of Kansas City.  We are honored to be able to assist in providing a quality fitness facility and programming to the Kansas City Ballet dancers. It is our hope that their time at Onelife Fitness contributes to their success in the ballet and the overall experience of the viewing patrons,” says R.C. Hahn, PES, BCS, WLS.

Onelife also has generously donated a pallet of bottled water and free, trial passes to Kansas City Ballet to distribute to attendees of the national Dance/USA Conference that Kansas City Ballet is hosting June 7-10, 2017.