Event Recap: BARRE KC at ULAH

ULAH, located at Woodside Village, a live-work-play community at 47th and Rainbow
ULAH, located at Woodside Village, a live-work-play community at 47th and Rainbow

Kansas City Ballet BARRE KC members and friends gathered on Friday, Sept. 8 for the Welcome Back Dancer Party with an open rehearsal at the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity followed by a Meet the Dancer party at ULAH, a men’s apparel and lifestyle store at 47th and Rainbow. Tasty treats were provided by Moxie Catering.

ULAH owner Buck Wimberly with dancers Lilliana Hagerman and Lamin Pereira dos Santos
ULAH owner Buck Wimberly with dancers Lilliana Hagerman and Lamin Pereira dos Santos
ULAH owner Joey Mendez, BARRE President Steve Peppes, Sonya Thomas, Bryant Williams and Ron Clowers
ULAH owner Joey Mendez, BARRE President Steve Peppes, Sonya Thomas, Bryant Williams and Ron Clowers

What is BARRE KC?

BARRE KC is the premier organization for young professionals interested in supporting the Kansas City Ballet. BARRE KC members enjoy the benefits of discounted ticket prices, networking, and special events with insider access to the Kansas City Ballet. They host The BARRE Soiree annually in March which raises funds to benefit Kansas City Ballet’s Reach Out And Dance, a dance in schools program. Last year, they raised $7,000 that went towards 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.

How do I Join?

You can join BARRE KC here. Cost is $45 and is tax deductible. There are a host of benefits from ticket discounts to backstage tours to exclusive networking events. Now is the time to join!

Photography: Karen Badgett

Behind the Scenes: Romeo & Juliet Rehearsals

Dancers Molly Wagner and Liang Fu rehearsing the roles of Romeo and Juliet. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.
Dancers Molly Wagner and Liang Fu rehearsing the roles of Romeo & Juliet. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.

Kansas City Ballet opens its 60th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary season with Artistic Director Devon Carney‘s Romeo & Juliet Oct. 13-22 at the Kauffman Center.

Artistic Director Devon Carney in Romeo & Juliet rehearsals. Photographer: Elizabeth Stehling.
Artistic Director Devon Carney in Romeo & Juliet rehearsals. Photographer: Elizabeth Stehling.

Romeo & Juliet Rehearsals

The dancers have been working hard in rehearsals to bring Carney’s world premiere choreography to life.

Company Dancers Molly Wagner and Humberto Rivera Blanco. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.
Company Dancers Molly Wagner and Humberto Rivera Blanco. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.

Behind the Scenes Video

Below you’ll also find a link to our Romeo & Juliet rehearsal video featuring Devon Carney, Molly Wagner and Liang Fu.

Get your tickets now at kcballet.org or call 816.931.8993.

 

A Gift of Music from The Guglers

The Guglers pictured with their baby grand piano, Artistic Director Devon Carney, Music Director Ramona Pansegrau, Ballet Master Parrish Maynard and members of Kansas City Ballet. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
The Guglers pictured with their baby grand piano, Artistic Director Devon Carney, Music Director Ramona Pansegrau, Ballet Master Parrish Maynard and members of Kansas City Ballet. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

Steve and Sheila Gugler raised their family in Kansas City, but now retired, they were ready for their next big adventure: moving to San Diego. Such a move meant paring down on physical items they’ve owned for years, even beloved ones like Sheila’s Kawai baby grand piano.

As the move to San Diego drew near, the couple began the arduous process of clearing out their large Kansas City home. When it came to Sheila’s baby, the piano, she knew it had to go but to whom?

“We were moving to a much smaller space in San Diego and there simply wasn’t room for it. I think that was the hardest thing about our move. I loved that piano,” said Sheila.

She knew that she wanted the recipient to appreciate it and really play it a lot.

Her Eureka Moment

“One night it came to me at 2:30 a.m. like a light bulb,” Sheila said. She remembered her daughter had taken lessons at Kansas City Ballet School during the Todd Bolender years at the Westport Allen Studios. Ballet classes were not just a way to learn to dance but also a vehicle for learning music appreciation, and at Kansas City Ballet School the classes are taught with live pianists playing the accompaniment.

“I knew this would be a great way to really expand the enjoyment of the piano by not only the many, many students, but the talented accompanists that KCB employs as well.”

When Sheila told her daughter her plan she replied, “Oh, Mom! What a great idea.”

Making it Happen

All that was left to do was reach out to Kansas City Ballet Music Director Ramona Pansegrau about the idea. Ramona came out and “kicked the tires” to be sure the piano was up to the challenge.

It was.

Once the piano arrived in the studio, its new home, the Guglers were invited to attend a ballet class with members of the company. The experience touched Sheila and Steve deeply. “We got to see our gift in use,” Sheila said, “We couldn’t be happier about our decision.”

And KCB couldn’t be happier to be the proud new owners.

Honoring the gift

“We are thrilled to have the Guglers’ beautiful piano in our Studio 2,” said Ramona. “As our pianist pool has grown in both size and expertise, the need for fine instruments has increased. In Studio 2, a studio used for company rehearsals as well as school classes, it is essential to be able to see ‘feet touch the floor’ to establish correct tempos for our professional dancers. The gift of a grand piano enables that to happen—and therefore it makes the process of studio to stage much easier. I am so grateful to the Guglers. We will treasure their lovely instrument for years to come.”

 


Kansas City Ballet is a 501(c)(3) organization. The majority of our operating budget each year is made up of grants and donations. If you are interested in making a gift to Kansas City Ballet, please contact Director of Individual Giving Debra Goldstein at 816.216.5597 or visit our website.

Dancer Profile: Elysa Hotchkiss

Company Dancer Elysa Hotchkiss reveals a little about her past and present as she begins her third season with Kansas City Ballet.

Q: How did you become a dancer? When did you start dancing?

A: My mom first took me to a dance class at the age of 3 and I loved it. By the age of 4 I knew I wanted to focus on ballet.

Q: What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

KCB Dancer Elysa Hotchkiss and Company Dancers in The Sleeping Beauty rehearsals last season. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.

A: I enjoy going on road trips with my husband. Whether it be 5,700 miles or a small weekend trip outside the city.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a dancer?

A: The escape from reality and the freedom of leaving it all at the door when you come in the studio or perform on the stage.

Q: Do you have a personal mantra?

A: To live life with kindness and to its fullest.

New KCB School Daytime Program Draws International Attention

2017 KCBS Daytime Program Students. Photo by Grace Holmes.
2017 KCBS Daytime Program Students. Photo by Grace Holmes.

 

Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) is raising its international profile with the enrollment of three Bulgarian students in its Daytime Program. KCBS’s Daytime Program is in its second year, but already it’s making a name for itself.

In its inaugural year, the program ended with 27 students. Three of those 27, have graduated and been accepted into Second Companies of professional ballet companies or have been invited into prestigious college dance programs. This fall there are 29 as the school year begins. Of those, more than half have returned for their second year. Six decided to join the Daytime Program after attending the recent Summer Intensive in 2017. Three joined from within the KCBS family and four were new to the school entirely. Students in this year’s program represent seven states including: Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, and Texas; and, as mentioned, the country of Bulgaria.

The KCBS Daytime Program

Just what is the Daytime Program? It’s a program for qualifying students who have not only shown promise as dancers, but who are passionate about becoming professional dancers at some point. The program gives students the chance to put dance in the forefront of their days when their energy is at its best. Students are responsible for their own academics, outside of class. Most join an online school program and focus on their studies during breaks, in the evenings and on the weekends.

The youngest participants were 10 when they joined the program last year, making them 11 now. Overall the program allows for 5 to 8 extra hours of training each week. And in addition, many of the students aged 14 and older also participate in Kansas City Youth Ballet (the performing group for the school) and/or the Youth America Grand Prix competition.

“If you have a student enrolled in the Daytime Program, dancing as part of KCYB, and participating in Youth America Grand Prix competition, they are going to be dancing around 33 hours per week. And many of our students are doing just that,” says KCBS Director Grace Holmes. “This program doesn’t take anything away from traditional ballet school training that happens in the evenings and on weekends, but it does give an option that many students and their families are very excited about.”

Drawing Students from Outside KC

Of the Daytime Program students, there are five that moved to KC to participate and at least one of their parents made the move with them. Another five have come on their own without a parent and now live with host families or on their own because they are at least 18. And then you have the three Bulgarians who also live with host families.

Bulgarian KCBS Students: Iren Veleva (15), Simeon Atanasov (16), and Mina Stoyanova (17). Photo by Elizabeth Stehling.
Bulgarian KCBS Students: Iren Veleva (15), Simeon Atanasov (16), and Mina Stoyanova (17). Photo by Elizabeth Stehling.

Mina Stoyanova (17), Iren Veleva (15) and Simeon Atanasov (16) all danced at the same ballet school in Bulgaria. Two years ago UMKC Conservatory of Dance’s Paula Weber (who often guest teaches at KCBS’s Summer Intensive program) was guest teaching at their school in Bulgaria. She identified their talent and encouraged them to attend KCBS’s 2016 Summer Intensive. Mina and Iren came in the summer of 2016. And Mina returned to KC in January of 2017 to begin the program. Iren waited another year since she was younger. Simeon waited to attend the 2017 Summer Intensive at KCBS and he and Iren decided to begin their full-time education here this year.

When asked why they would travel so far for ballet training, the three agreed: “Because the training here is very good. We really like the classes and that we dance all day.” Simeon also mentioned, “I really like that we have a male Russian teacher.”

These students will travel home for holiday breaks and will be tested over academics then. They are learning their basics through text books on their own while in KC.

One thing is certain, the Daytime Program is here to stay. And with it, Kansas City Ballet is closer to fulfilling its mission to be “Always On” with programming happening all day every day the building is open.

KCB Dancer Profile: Christopher Costantini

We caught up with Company Dancer Christopher Costantini as he begins his fourth season with Kansas City Ballet.

Q: How did you become a dancer? When did you start dancing?

A: I started dancing when I was 12 after a pre-professional swimming career.

KC Ballet Dancers Amaya Rodriguez and Chistopher Costantini. The Lottery rehearsals. The Lottery is based on the short story by Shirley Jackson. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

Q: Do you have hobbies or special interests?

A: I follow politics very closely and I enjoy working on my classic car.

Q: What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

A: I speak three languages; Italian, French and English.

Q: What do you enjoy most about KC?

A: I live downtown so there are many exciting restaurants and activities.

KCB Dancer Profile: Emily Mistretta

Now that the dancers have returned for the 2017-2018 Season, we will be providing KCB Dancer Profile posts. Our first profile is that of Emily Mistretta who joined the company in 2016.

Q: How did you become a dancer? When did you start dancing?

A: My Grandmother loved ballet and always wished she could have had the chance to dance. She put my mom into ballet and my mom danced for some time—she even had an apprenticeship with San Francisco Ballet. I’ve taken their love one step further having been a professional for 10 years. So, I’m kind of the culmination of the dream of three generations.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a dancer?

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

A: All of the relationships and friendships are bonds unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. And mostly that time that you get to be on stage dancing with those people.

Q: What are people most surprised to learn about your job as a dancer?

A: That it’s an actual job.

Q: Do you have hobbies or special interests?

A: I love to spend time outside. So much of our time is spent indoors. I love to garden and hike and camp.