Event Recap: BARRE 2017 Fundraiser

Kansas City Ballet’s BARRE 2017 Fundraiser. Photography by J. Robert Schraeder Photography.

On March 11, BARRE, Kansas City Ballet’s young professionals association, held its annual fundraiser at Pennway Place to raise money to support Reach Out And Dance (R.O.A.D.) programs. R.O.A.D. programs are one of the many ways KCB’s Community Engagement and Education department reaches out to the Kansas City community.

Special Thank Yous

The event MC was the lively Mark Walberg from “Antiques Roadshow” and included a special performance for KCB’s Second Company. Guests also enjoyed tasty bites from PB&J Restaurants and beverages from Martin City Brewery, Rock and Run Brewery, Crane Brewery, Amigoni Winery, and Jacquie Ward. And, of course, there was also dancing with DJ Jeremy Anderson.

Kendra Scott Jewelry and SPC Portrait Art donated pull bags that were a flat $60 and $99 respectively. Plus, a silent auction with 35 items from massages, to Chiefs, Sporting KC, and Royals tickets, and more helped raise nearly $7K.


The proceeds will be earmarked for 16 new R.O.A.D. Scholarship Schools allowing the program to reach 800+ kids in the Kansas City Public School District and Turner School District.

The BARRE Board was quite pleased with the event turn out of nearly 150 attendees.

Save the Date

And, mark your calendars, work has already begun on next year’s fundraiser scheduled for March 10, 2018.


Not yet a BARRE member? Memberships are still available here. If you purchase now, your membership will be good through July 2018.

Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company performed at the BARRE 2017 Fundraiser. Photography by J. Robert Schraeder Photography.
Kansas City Ballet’s BARRE 2017 Fundraiser. Photography by J. Robert Schraeder Photography.
Kansas City Ballet’s BARRE President Steve Peppes, his wife Charlena and KCB liaison Karen Badgett. Photography by J. Robert Schraeder Photography.
Attendees of the BARRE 2017 Fundraiser. Photography by J. Robert Schraeder Photography.
Attendees of the BARRE 2017 Fundraiser. Photography by J. Robert Schraeder Photography.

Interview with a Composer: Robert Moran

Composer Robert Moran

Robert Moran created the original musical composition for Val Caniparoli’s The Lottery, based on the short story by Shirley Jackson. It is one of the three works on Kansas City Ballet’s “Director’s Choice” program at the Kauffman Center May 12-21. We were able to ask him a few questions about the ballet in an email interview.


Kansas City Ballet: How do you feel about the story by Shirley Jackson? Is there a particular take-away that you think is most important?

Robert Moran: “The Lottery” is brilliant. For today (or any day)…. question everything! Never use “I did what I was told.” Question tradition. Not much to add on that one… it’s rather like a YANKEE “Rite of Spring”.


Robert Moran: I did fly out to San Francisco and visit with Val [Caniparoli] over the work. At that time we had a charming visit with Shirley Jackson’s son (he must be about my age), who told us exactly how she wrote it, how it was quickly published and how she immediately became famous/infamous (her community angry; everyone thought she had written about them).

Of course I had read THE LOTTERY in high school when it was relatively new, and loved it. Over the past few years, I have viewed a film with Nicole Kidman called DOGVILLE, which must contain the same ‘generous and kind’ community of people who ‘get what they deserve’ in the final scene.

Val simply told me about the number of dancers, why he did this and not that with the characters….. and how he wanted to have a real lottery on the stage, making the final ‘stoning’ quite unnerving for the ‘selected one’. The idea that this lottery and outcome was an annual event that no one questioned was/is startling to me. That “…..but I just did what I was told” we hear far too frequently. Really horrific.

KC Ballet Dancer Hannah Keene rehearsing The Lottery.

I organized the various ‘scenes’ myself…. I do believe that Val said something about these ‘good folk’ ‘going to church’ (although I think Jackson makes it clear that this lottery was on a Thursday, something like that). I sketched out on paper the scenes and how we would get from one to the next, including the gentleman who ‘runs the event’, his wife, etc.

With a real lottery on the stage, I had to compose a repeated pattern (not knowing just how long this would take for a lottery of 18 characters)….. Pause, and then the final ‘stoning’. I had known that there were and possibly are farming communities who kill animals/fish and bury them ‘as a way of hoping for a good harvesting result’.

The collaboration was at a great distance: East and West Coasts….. but I’d write Val and say “I’m doing it this way…OK?” and he always replied, “That’s fine. Do it.”


Robert Moran: I must admit that writing ABOUT such a work is much more difficult for me than actually composing the music. Words may attempt to explain, but with music as a non-verbal form of communication, it’s just nearly impossible.

For the approach to the score: I planned out on paper, like some architectural structure, the scenes leading up to the lottery itself…. in a good Capricorn fashion. I looked over the entire plan then put down an approximate duration for each section and how one might move from that into the next part…..Once these were clear to me, then I simply started ‘at the beginning’ and went to the end. As mentioned, with the lottery being ‘open ended’ I had to find a repetition of materials with hopes that the tension would build. There is no specific moment that sets the tone…. the entire work needs to build to the solo finale! I had NO idea how Val planned the final “stoning”, and was not able (due to illness) get to the Salt Lake City premiere. The gala performance with a marvelous orchestra in Chicago solved that problem most effectively and left the audience gasping!!

I cannot describe the music in words, but just hope it is effective and works for the dancers and the public. Of course one major ‘problem’ with the lottery is that, in reading this short story, one really has no idea what is going to happen until the very last page….that is the shock. The major portion of the dance work (and the story) is “showing” a polite, New England community going through its everyday activities….. but built around this peculiar lottery, not explained until the final section.

For example with The Lottery (as with the short story), one clearly cannot give away the conclusion of the work. I kept thinking “How do I present material that somehow becomes slightly peculiar as the work progresses? Should I include dissonant sounds upon the first appearance of the lottery box and ‘moderator’? No, that couldn’t work….” So I just tried to keep the musical materials tight, tighter as one moved toward the lottery itself. Even trying to explain this makes little sense.

I believe that Val’s staging of a ‘real’ lottery with no one knowing the outcome other than SOMEONE in the group must deal with the ferocious final dance, that would (I hope) come through as visual tension.

As written before, it’s best to question everything political, everything social and remove traditions which are useless, ineffective and in some cases dangerous!


Robert Moran has written his place into the rich tapestry of contemporary music that has flourished in the second half of the twentieth century. Mr. Moran’s work points to an underlying philosophy that sees music as a shared experience. His “graphic” scores have been exhibited throughout the world, including Berlin’s Academy of Art and the Lincoln Centre Library for the Arts. Mr. Moran co-founded the San Francisco New Music Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the mid-1960s. He worked in West Berlin as composer-in-residence as a guest of the German government. A year before Mr. Moran returned to the U.S. as a composer-in-residence at Northwestern University in 1977, he wrote WALTZ IN MEMORIAM: MAURICE RAVEL. The entire collection was premiered at Chicago’s Art Institute in 1978 and recorded as “Waltz Project” in 1981, becoming one of the most fascinating ventures of the late ’70s. The Waltz Project has been choreographed by Peter Martins, NYC Ballet, with other performances via San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet.

Behind the Scenes: “The Lottery”

The Lottery

Val Caniparoli’s riveting ballet based on the shocking short story by Shirley Jackson with the same name has a hidden element of surprise, dancers and audience members alike, learn who has “won” at the same time. Which dancer will perform the final variation?

Fate decides at each performance when the dancers draw lots on stage.

KC Ballet Dancer Emily Mistretta. The Lottery rehearsals. The Lottery is based on the short story by Shirley Jackson. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

Below you’ll find a link to a behind-the-scenes video from rehearsals of The Lottery. Learn more about the process, the ballet and that grueling moment when all is revealed. 

Behind the scenes

See it On Stage

Enjoy the final show of Kansas City Ballet’s 2016-2017 season May 12-21 at the Kauffman Center. Dancers currently are rehearsing all three exciting ballets on the program including Jerome Robbins’ Interplay and George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations. It’s a whole evening of dance!

Buy tickets now online or by phone at 816.931.8993.

Sponsor Profile: Elevé Dancewear and Owner Lisa Choules

Elevé Dancewear Owner Lisa Choules

Lisa Choules’ name may sound familiar if you’ve been attending the Ballet for a while. She is a former Kansas City Ballet company member. Choules danced with KCB from 2000 until retiring at the end of the 2008-2009 season. Flash forward to 2017, Choules is a successful entrepreneur and owner of Elevé Dancewear. This Kansas City-based company employs upwards of 25 employees, most of them full-time.

Elevé has made quite a name for itself among dancers and dance communities. The creative and high-quality leotards and dance skirts definitely capture attention in and out of the studio.

ElevÉ’s Support for KCB School

The company has been a supporter of Kansas City Ballet’s School for the past two years—sponsoring deserving students with Elevé scholarships.

What motivated Choules to make this possible?

“I love performing. I nearly quit dancing when I was young, but then I attended my school’s performance. I realized I wanted to be up there on the stage. That desire is what brought me back to dance. That is why I want to help students have more opportunities to perform, especially those who work hard and need financial assistance,” she said. 

In 2015-2016, Elevé became the Official Leotard Provider for Kansas City Ballet School. Why would KCBS choose Elevé as a uniform partner?

“Elevé is a local company with lots of experience and with a love for the art form and especially education. We were able to customize the leotards with the colors they selected,” said Choules. “We have a lot of experience with ballet schools since we make the official uniforms for Ballet West Academy and other dance schools across America.”

How Elevé Began

When asked about her transition from company dancer to business owner, Choules shared a bit about what drives her. She joined Ballet West as a dancer at 18. While there she started making her own ballet skirts. Later she even made her own practice tutu. After her two daughters were born, she began making leotards for herself.

“I had a hard time finding leos that fit my body,” she said. She would get creative by looking for older leotards at thrift shops, breaking them down and making patterns from them. In fact, she was wearing one of her own creations when she auditioned for KCB and even remembers other dancers asking her where she got it. “As a single mother of two, I made custom leotards for my friends as a way to earn some extra side money.”

For a while she even dabbled with costuming. She remembers when the company was performing Paquita, it frustrated her how poorly the rented tutus fit. She had trouble feeling confident about her dancing because she was so concerned about her costume twisting and bouncing funny because it was too big around and falling out on top because it was too short.

The first costuming she did was for KCB dancer Russell Baker’s summer festival and his ballet Cloud Chamber which was choreographed for KCB’s In the Wings and was later preformed as part of the 2001/2002 season. Later, she designed for former KCB Artistic Director William (Bill) Whitener, Quixotic, Owen/Cox, Jessica Lang (for KCB, Ballet San Jose, and her own company), and Nashville Ballet to name a few. “The first piece I did for Whitener was Jaywalk, a jazzy piece with pants. Keelan Whitmore was the lead. Bill thought I had decent taste and I was flattered he trusted me to design the costumes for him.” Choules said.

Another one of Bill’s pieces “I didn’t design, but made the costumes for, was Caprice. The dancers wore nude colored unitards.” Out of frustration, I remade the bodice of the Snow Queen costume from The Nutcracker because it didn’t fit well and was difficult to move in,” Choules remembered. She did design and build the costumes for two more of Bill’s ballets, First Position: A Reminiscence which the company performed during their 50th Anniversary Season and Salute!, a ballet meant to commemorate Christopher Barksdale’s retirement after 20 years in the company.  

After retiring in 2009, she received a grant from the Career Transition for Dancers and used it to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology‘s summer session in NYC. Then she started Elevé in the basement of her home. Initially she hired one employee to cut out leotards and help design the look of the website.

Soon after, disaster struck.

Coming back from the Brink

A fire started in her cutting room and she lost a majority of her patterns as well as supplies and even some completed orders. Not to be held back, Choules with the help of other seamstresses, began remaking her patterns based on past leotards and costume designs she’d made for KCB and any unsewn pieces that were not destroyed by the fire.

“It was hard work, but I was determined. There was no plan B. I had to make this work,” she said.

Elevé Dancewear

And boy has she made it work. Elevé is now located in the Crossroads in 5,200 square feet of space with orders shipping all over the globe!

This Arizona native has come a long way and there is no end in sight.

KCBS Competes: 2017 YAGP Finals in NY

Aurora Wessel (10) in Les Sylphide at YAGP Finals in New York 2017.

Kansas City Ballet School recently competed in the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) Semi-finals in Indianapolis. More than 10,000 students participated in the Semi-finals competitions across the country and around the world this year and only 1,200-1,400 were invited to the New York Finals held April 7-14. Several KCBS students qualified for the YAGP Finals and last Friday, after many, many competitive performances, master classes and auditions, the awards were announced.

Kansas City Ballet School Awards:

Aurora Wessel (age 10) was named one of the Top 12 Pre-Competitve Soloists out of 143 students in her age-bracket (118 girls and 25 boys).

Grady George received a Houston Ballet Scholarship 

Poppy Trettel received a Royal Winnipeg Scholarship 

Grady and Poppy will attend summer intensive programs at these prestigious schools on scholarship this year.

Poppy Trettel (11) and Grady George (12) in Bluebird Pas De Deux from The Sleeping Beauty. First Place winners in Pas De Deux YAGP Semi-finals 2017 Indianapolis, IN

KCBS Director Grace Holmes recently had this to say about the YAGP program:

“I had never considered competitions as an important aspect of ballet training, in fact I thought it was a distraction from solid training. When I first came to KCB, one of our teachers had been taking a very limited number of students to YAGP – she was single-handedly teaching, coaching, administrating, doing makeup, and making costumes for all of the students who were competing.

When the first group went to YAGP, I could see the positive effects on our students.  The students who participated learned so much from the one-on-one coaching, and the support they received from their fellow students made me realize how much this brought the kids together.

It was driven home when one of the non-competing students asked me if their class could take 10 minutes out of class time to watch the live stream of their peers at the YAGP semi-finals. She even offered me a $10 bill to cover the fee for the live stream. It meant so much to them to ‘be there’ for their friends. This made me rethink the impact of this particular competition for serious-minded students. I also recognized the impact that it would have on us as a school. The visibility and recognition that come with participating at YAGP could get the word out about how our school has evolved.

So this year we went all out and we took 31 students (last year was a trial with 18). Our efforts were well rewarded and I feel we gained national recognition in our participation. Our students were amazing ambassadors for KCBS. I am very proud of the way they comported themselves and I am proud of their achievements.”

Second Company Performs at Kemper Museum

Kansas City Ballet Second Company dancers Marisa Whiteman and Gavin Abercrombie.

Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company performed at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art on Thursday, March 23rd. The performance included a new work created in response to Rashid Johnson’s art installation and two hanging works about anxiety, self, and release.

These types of intimate performance collaborations are important for the community, other arts organizations, as well as, the Second Company.

“The performance at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art brought together visual and performing art fans and created an experience that can’t be obtained any other way,” says Second Company Manager Anthony Krutzkamp. “It gives us a chance here at Kansas City Ballet to cross pollinate with other arts groups in a substantial way. Everyone wins, including the audience.”

Kansas City Ballet Second Company Manager Anthony Krutzkamp.

“The visual artist’s work is the embodiment of the choreography. It gives the dancers something tangible, not just an idea, to inspire their interpretation of the movement. It adds an extra layer to the show and how the Second Company approaches the piece,” Krutzkamp says.

Upcoming Performances

Interested in seeing more from our Second Company? Check out their upcoming shows:


Final Weekend of “The Sleeping Beauty”

Dancers Tempe Ostergren and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Kansas City Ballet’s presentation of The Sleeping Beauty will close this Sunday, April 9. This incredible classic has captivated audiences.

What Audiences are saying

“We loved the performance from the amazing Rose Adagio to the incredible footwork of the male dancers and Prince Desire to the rich somewhat historic costumes and scenery, not to mention the symphony. Always love an excuse to be in the inspiring Kauffman Center. Finally, it was so heartwarming to see a full house for a Sunday Matinee for a classical ballet. This was undoubtedly one of my favorite classical ballets the company has performed.”


Dancer Danielle Bausinger. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

“Bravo—Outstanding performance yesterday afternoon! My 13-year-old ballerina that has recently started en pointe was on the edge of her seat the entire time. The Kauffman is beautiful, the dancers are wonderful—special day all around. Kansas City is doing everything right with the Kauffman and Ballet.”

Dancers Tempe Ostergren and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

“I loved it. Such a beautiful performance—dancers, costumes, music. I plan to become a subscriber next year.”

Dancers Taryn Mejia and Dillon Malinski. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

The Sleeping Beauty Dance-A-Story

On March 21st more than 30 children attended The Sleeping Beauty Dance-A-Story program at the Westport Library.

Dance-A-Story is a 45-minute workshop appropriate for Pre-K and early elementary school students, bringing stories to life through creative movement, music, and a costume show and tell. Kansas City Ballet’s Community Engagement and Education Program Teaching Artist Amelia Virtue led the workshop.

These educational events are a fun way to introduce even the littlest members of the community to ballet.

“Our Dance-A-Stories provide opportunities for very young children in and around the metro area to experience classic stories and fairy tales in a truly unique way,” says Community Engagement and Education Manager April Berry. “By bringing the magic of movement, music, and costumes/props from story ballets to community venues, this fun, interactive program provides another avenue to enhance literacy.”

Event Summary

Children enjoyed listening to The Sleeping Beauty ballet story and seeing costumes and examples of character’s props. [see top photo]

Then Ms. Virtue turned on some music and led the children to try pantomime to tell the story with succinct movements. Below she demonstrated when Princess Aurora fell asleep.

The boys and girls were even given a chance to try on the crowns worn by Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré.

For many of these children, this was their first experience with the art of ballet. But hopefully not their last!

Photography by Andrea Wilson.

Event Recap: 60th Anniversary Season Announcement

On Saturday, March 12th, Kansas City Ballet announced the 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Season to a select group of donors, sponsors, board members, dancers and staff at Pennway Place. Master of Ceremonies and current Host of “Antiques Road Show” Mark Walberg welcomed the crowd, Kansas City Ballet Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley spoke about the state of the organization and the joy at celebrating the highly-anticipated 60th Season, and Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney had the honor of announcing the ballets to be performed during this exciting season. Learn more about the 2017-2018 Season.

Thank you to SponsorS

Polsinelli and The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank generously sponsored the festivities.

Thank you also to Studio Dan Meiners, PB&J restaurants, Amigoni Winery, Crane Brewery, Martin City Brewery and Rock and Run Brewery for adding enjoyment to the evening.

Photography by J. Robert Schraeder Photography. Photo captions from top to bottom:

  1. Kansas City Ballet 2017-2018 60th Anniversary brochures
  2. Left to Right: Devon Carney, Mark Walberg, Jeffrey Bentley, and KCB School Director Grace Holmes
  3. The crowd during the reveal
  4. Thank you to event sponsors: Polsineli and The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank. Special thanks to Studio Dan Meiners and PB&J Restaurants.
  5. Board Member Anna Allen, Artistic Director Devon Carney, Pamela Carney, and KCB Dancers Molly Wagner and Angelina Sansone.
  6. Howard and Anne Elsberry, KCB Dancer Tempe Ostergren, Beth Ingrahm, and Andrew Elsberry.

First Day of Spring!

Ode to Spring

Fare thee well lilacs, as your petals renew.

Spring flowers are preparing to dance for you.

As beetles and bugs begin their seasonal flings,

It’s time to salute all the rites of spring.

Happy first day of spring!


Photo Credits from Top to Bottom: Helen Pickett’s Petal KCB Dancers Dillon Malinski, Lilliana Hagerman, and Ryan Joliecoeur-Nye. Photographer Brett Pruitt. Alvin Ailey’s Flowers KCB Dancer Jody Anderson. Photographer Don Middleton. Margot Sappington’s ZuZu Lounge. KCB Dancer Deanna Doyle. Photographer Steve Wilson. Adam Hougland’s Rite of Spring. KCB Dancer Angelina Sansone. Photographer Brett Pruitt.