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.

“The Sleeping Beauty” Rehearsal Photos

The photos below are from a recent Kansas City Ballet rehearsal for The Sleeping Beauty at the Bolender Center. This is a first for the company to perform the entire production. It’s another sign of just how far the Ballet has come in its 59 years. With a larger company and a second company comprised of KCB II members and Trainees, there are now more than enough dancers upon which to set these larger works.

The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty opens Friday, March 31 and runs through Sunday, April 9 at the Kauffman Center—eight public performances in all!

KCB Dancers Kaleena Burks and Lamin Pereira dos Santos in Sleeping Beauty rehearsals. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.
KCB Dancers Kaleena Burks (front) and Amaya Rodriguez in the role of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty rehearsals. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.
KCB Dancer Elysa Hotchkiss and Company Dancers in Sleeping Beauty rehearsals. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.
KCB Dancer Kelsey Hellebuyck in Sleeping Beauty rehearsals. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.

KCBS Student Profile: Chrisanne Ayers

In her fourth year of dancing at KCBS, Chrisanne Ayers was given the opportunity to help pioneer the Academy’s Daytime Program for serious ballet students who were looking for more intensive training than afternoon programs can offer. “I wanted to join the daytime program primarily because I knew the training was going to be more intense and I wanted to have the extra hours in the studio to train,” Chrisanne said. “The thought of being at the studio all day just like the professionals was also so amazing and exciting.”

Kansas City Ballet School’s Daytime Program for levels 4-8 flips the script on traditional dance training. With this new program, students spend most of their days Monday through Friday (approx. 20-25 hours) taking dance classes designed to help them grow as a dancer, develop stamina, and feed their passion. These students tend to their academics through online or homeschool programs in the evenings and on weekends.

Benefits

As part of this inaugural group, Chrisanne already has identified some benefits. “I feel like I have been able to improve faster than if I was only dancing for a couple hours in the evening. The daytime program has definitely helped improve my stamina and it has taught me how to manage my time more efficiently. Another benefit of the day program is that it really helps you to refine your vision for the future, whether or not you want to pursue ballet professionally,” she said. “For me, it helped to confirm that this is what I love and want to do, but I am sure for some others dancing all day might help them realize that, while they love it, they don’t want to do it professionally.”

Challenges

Naturally there are also challenges with trying something new. “One of the biggest was probably figuring out how and when to fit school into this already very busy schedule,” Chrisanne said. “I simply took it day by day and figured out a routine that worked for me and stuck with it. There have been challenges with everyone getting along as well. When you’re with the same group of people all day almost every day of the week a certain amount of conflict is inevitable. However, we are all extremely close and no matter the what we have always been able to work it out.”

In the end, the highest form of praise for the new program comes in the form of endorsement from the students themselves. “I would recommend this program to anyone who is passionate about ballet and serious about pursuing it as a career,” Chrisanne said. “It is a lot of hours. It’s hard and exhausting, but if ballet is your love, it is the best thing in the world.”

SUCCESS

Her training is paying off in a big way. Last weekend, Chrisanne competed along with 30 other KCBS students at a Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) regional semi-finals competition in Indianapolis. She placed in the Top 12 Contemporary Dancers out of more than 100 senior competitors.

Congratulations, Chrisanne!

Chrisanne Ayers

 

Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

R.O.A.D. Program T-Shirt Design Contest

Reach Out And Dance (R.O.A.D.) is a 12- to 24-week in-school dance residency program for elementary schools, taught by professional teaching artists from Kansas City Ballet to live accompaniment.

As a central part of Kansas City Ballet’s Community Education programming for more than 15 years, R.O.A.D. has helped students by encouraging teamwork and by introducing an art form that many students would never experience.

This year, a R.O.A.D. winning T-shirt design was created by 10-year-old R.O.A.D. participant Emmy Barrett (pictured above). Emmy is a fourth grader from Prairie Elementary School in Prairie Village, Kan. When asked what she enjoys most about the program, Emmy said, “I enjoy runs and jumps the most because I love all of the challenges involved in it.”

She says she chose to draw this design because she wanted something that was original and new and had dance and music on it. 

How did she feel when she found out her design had been selected? “I felt like the happiest person ever when I heard that I had won!”

Congratulations, Emmy! Thank you to all R.O.A.D. school students, teachers and administrators for your support and participation.

If you know of a school that may be interested in participating in the R.O.A.D. program, please contact April Berry, Community Engagement and Education Manager for Kansas City Ballet at aberry@kcballet.org.

YAGP Competition This Weekend

We would like to wish all 31 Kansas City Ballet School students dancing in Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) regional competitions in Indianapolis much luck this weekend. This is the second year in a row that KCBS has had students compete and excitement is overwhelming. KCBS Teacher Racheal Nye (pictured with students below) has worked tirelessly on costumes and coaching. Students who do well this weekend will move on to New York for the YAGP finals in April.

To learn more about Ms. Racheal, here is a link to recent profile from our blog.

Event Recap: New Moves 2017

Last weekend Kansas City Ballet wrapped up it’s 4th annual New Moves program at the Bolender Center. More than 850 attendees witnessed eight brand new works by nine choreographers from within Kansas City Ballet’s company and beyond.

The First Act

The show opened with Tone it Bach, a large work by retired KC Ballet Dancer Ryan Joliecoeur-Nye, performed by KC Ballet’s Second Company (made up of KCB II and the Student Trainees).

New Moves Production Photos. KCB Second Company Dancers in “Tone it Bach” Choreography: Ryan Joliecoeur-Nye. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

The vibrant Tempestades Da Vida (Storms of Life) by KC Ballet Company Dancer Gustavo Ribeiro, was up next.

New Moves Production Photos. KCB Dancers in “Tempestades Da Vida (Storms of Life)” Choreography: Gustavo Ribeiro. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.

KC Choreography duo, Andi Abernathy and Stephanie Ruch from HEARTLINES Dance Company, followed with their dramatic piece Grasping.

New Moves Production Photos. KCB Dancers in “Grasping” Choreography: Andi Abernathy & Stephanie Ruch. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Another KC Ballet dancer’s imaginative dance for two was up next: Michael Davis’ Keep.

New Moves Production Photos. KCB Dancers Elysa Hotchkiss and Danielle Bausinger in “Keep” Choreography: Michael Davis. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

The final piece in the first act was the playful A Ruckus Recess by KC Ballet Company Dancer James Kirby Rogers.

New Moves Production Photos. KCB Dancers Taryn Mejia, Whitney Huell, and Kelsey Hellebuyck in “A Ruckus Recess” Choreography: James Kirby Rogers. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

The Second Act

The intense Inveterate by KC Ballet Company Dancer Molly Wagner opened the second act.

New Moves Production Photos. KCB Dancers Angelina Sansone and Michael Davis in “Inveterate” Choreography: Molly Wagner. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

A thought-provoking work, Peregri•nation, by former Boston Ballet Principal Dancer Yury Yanowsky followed with three couples.

New Moves Production Photos. KCB Dancers Emily Mistretta and Humberto Rivera Blanco in “Peregri•nation” Choreography: Yury Yanowsky. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

And rising choreographer Gabrielle Lamb’s mesmerizing A Thousand Several Ways brought the show to a crowd-pleasing end.

New Moves Production Photos. KCB Dancers in “A Thousand Several Ways” Choreography: Gabrielle Lamb. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

 

Did you know? Behind Ballet Music

As you’ve watched Kansas City Ballet dance to beautiful music played by Kansas City Symphony and led by Kansas City Ballet Music Director Ramona Pansegrau, you may not have given much thought to just how the music gets played. And that’s because Ms. Pansegrau has been working intently behind the scenes—sometimes for years before a piece is performed.

Nearly everyone has seen sheet music before and as you read the first paragraph, perhaps you even pictured it in your head. Pristine pages with notes that will all be played. But in reality, those sheets of paper have been pored over by numerous folks before they are ever performed for ballet. That’s because when working with a symphony there are so many parts that must be dissected and notations that must be added.

Let’s back up for a minute. When a choreographer selects a piece of music to create a dance to, a lot of things happen.  First of all, rights and royalties must be secured for the music from the composer and publisher, including grand rights for performances, and also rental of the physical music. Choreographers can have a lot of leeway. Perhaps they want to edit the score to fit their vision, possibly removing certain phrases or adding in repeats. All of this affects the score—and ultimately any other music director with any other dance company looking to perform the piece again later. Because, you see, just having an agreement to use the ballet, doesn’t mean you’ll get “ready to play” music with it. You may need to recreate your own.

Behind the scenes, music directors like Ms. Pansegrau are often having to recreate the pieces, pull out the separate parts for the orchestra sections, make bowing marks (how to play the notes for stringed instruments), and mark up how to play the notes for the dancers so that the dance and the music are one.

As Ms. Pansegrau explains, “For some world premiere ballets, only one copy of the marked score exists and it’s not usually shared. A score with no markings can be overwhelming. Even when we are doing pieces that have been done before, by other companies, we can be expected to figure out the music on our own, using video or choreographer’s notes, etc.”

That’s where having personal relationships and history on your side is a real asset. “Last fall, we performed the Mendelsohn music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Boston Ballet hadn’t performed it for 20 years—since I was there—but they dug in a warehouse to find the old set of parts. And, in exchange, we shared a marked set of parts we had to a Peter Martins’ ballet they were performing,” she said.

Notes and markings save so much time and effort that could be channeled into better things rather than recreating the wheel. A marked set of parts is like gold for a music director and a ballet company.

“We traded for the marked and arranged music for Jerome Robbins The Concert set to Chopin from Pittsburgh Ballet because we let them use our copies of music for Lynn Taylor-Corbett’s Great Galloping Gottschalk set to music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk.”

Creating an atmosphere of change locally, has benefited both the ballet and the symphony. A while back, the ballet performed a piece to the adagietto from Mahler’s 5th symphony. Since then KCS’s Music Director Michael Stern borrowed the marked version from the ballet since it was bowed and marked by their own musicians—saving them time and effort recreating the wheel. And, the ballet used KCS’s Dvořák 9th symphony score on last spring’s repertory performances. Trades like this have been great for our relationship.

But there are still other challenges for music: In the spring of 2015, Kansas City Ballet performed Wunderland by Edwaard Liang. Wunderland was originally set to a string quartet, but Ms. Pansegrau adjusted it so that it worked for the entire string section of the orchestra. In the process, the various movements from various works that Liang used had to be collated and made into a single part for each orchestra player. She also had to piece together music that has been only performed to a recording for other ballet companies but we want to use live musicians. And, she’s even had to become a true music detective to piece together music for ballets that are so old no one living knew just how they sounded—which was the case for Frescoes (from The Little Humpbacked Horse) by Arthur Saint-Léon set to Cesare Pugni’s music that the ballet performed in the fall of 2009. For that particular work, she wrote out the music note by note for every part in the orchestra and then used a computer music writing program to make the complete set of parts.

One of the most famous ballets in the world—Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker—varies by company. For many musicians who’d been using the same music binder for years, the idea of having to start over for the Ballet’s recent new production was too much to bear. So instead, Ms. Pansegrau edited the old parts to adjust to the new version of the ballet. That way they still had much of their broken-in old friend in-tact. “They know where on the page their parts begin. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that are the hardest to change,” says Ms. Pansegrau. “We all are creatures of habit.”  Currently, Ms. Pansegrau is working on a brand new set of parts for our premiere of The Sleeping Beauty. “I started on them in February of 2016—I think I’m going to make it, but just barely.”

“It’s hard to believe when I started at here in KC they gave me two cardboard boxes of music—the full breadth of our music library—and now I have this!”

Since she began, Ms. Pansegrau has worked to document and save the music for works the company has performed. There have been many labors of love that have taken up to two years to prepare all of the parts and binders for the musicians. “I’m saving all my work so that I and others don’t have to start from scratch again.  Our growing music library is a true resource for the company and an asset for the future.”

Bless her!

 

Photos from the top: Kansas City Ballet Music Director Ramona Pansegrau by Elizabeth Stehling. Sheet Music from The Sleeping Beauty by Andrea Wilson. Kansas City Ballet Dancers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios. Kansas City Ballet Dancers in Wunderland by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.  Kansas City Ballet Music Director Ramona Pansegrau by Andrea Wilson.

A Ballet Valentine!

Roses are red;

KCB Dancer Sarah Chun in The Nutcracker 2015. Photography by Rosalie O'Connor.

Lilacs are blue;

Pas-de-deux

is a dance made for two!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Kansas City Ballet!

 

Photography Credits: (Top) KCB Dancer Sarah Chun. Photography by Rosalie O’Connor. (Middle) KCB Dancers. Photography by Brett Pruitt. (Bottom) KCB Dancers Molly Wagner & Liang Fu. Photography by Brett Pruitt.

What’s Next for the Second Company?

Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company is a busy bunch. In addition to dancing corps roles in company productions like The Sleeping Beauty (March 31-April 9) and taking their own classes to continue their dance education, they also perform around town when opportunities arise. Currently there are two public performances on their schedule in March. We’ve listed info about both below. Hope to see you there!

Open Stage at the J  |  Sunday  |  March 5 at 2 p.m.

An inaugural choreography festival for Kansas City’s best dancers and dance companies, this professional showcase includes the original work of the following companies: Kacico Dance, Heartlines Dance Company, Point B, Suzanne Ryan Strati, Seamless Dance Theater, City in Motion, Kansas City Ballet II, Vida Dance Company, and Owen/Cox Dance Group. Click here for tickets.

A showing at the Kemper Museum  |  Thursday  |  March 23 at 7 p.m.

In collaboration with the Kemper Museum, the Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company presents the premiere of choreographer Anthony Krutzkamp’s performance, taking inspiration from Rashid Johnson’s exhibition Hail We Now Sing Joy. There will be a cash bar from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by a FREE performance from 7 to 8 p.m. Click here for more info.

 

Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.