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

“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.

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.

Proceeds

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.

Join BARRE

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.

QUESTION TRADITION

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”.

THE COLLABORATION

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.”

COMPOSING THE SHOCK

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!

BIOGRAPHY

ROBERT MORAN | COMPOSER (THE LOTTERY)
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.