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!

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