Event Recap: Mobank Sponsors New Moves Reception

Molly Kerr with KCB Artistic Director Devon Carney. Photography by Larry Levenson.
Molly Kerr with KCB Artistic Director Devon Carney. Photography by Larry Levenson.

A special thank you to Mobank Private Wealth as the Supporting Sponsor of Kansas City Ballet’s 2018 New Moves performances Feb. 15-18. As part of their sponsorship, they received a pre-performance reception on opening night. For the past five years, Mobank Private Wealth has been a valued Ballet Business Council member and a generous annual contributor. They support the ballet’s mission to establish Kansas City Ballet as an indispensable asset of KC through exceptional performances, excellence in dance training and community education for all ages. It’s partnerships like these that help the ballet bring a love of dance to children and adults alike through educational programs like Reach Out And Dance (R.O.A.D.), performances, and more.

Molly Kerr and her guest Hal Higdon. Photography by Larry Levenson.

Kansas City Ballet also would like to congratulate Molly Kerr for her new role as Kansas City Ballet’s 2018 Business Leadership Council Co-Chair! Molly is the Senior Vice President and KC Market Executive for Mobank Private Wealth, a division of Mobank/BOK Financial. Molly has worked in this field for nearly 30 years overseeing investments, and trust and private banking. 

Molly Kerr with her Mobank Private Wealth Team and guests. Photography by Larry Levenson.

Learn more about 2018 New Moves here:

New Moves Delivers

Behind the Scenes: New Moves 2018

Dancer Profile: Javier Morales

Originally from Cuba, Company Dancer Javier Morales joined Kansas City Ballet this season.

Q: how did you become a dancer? WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: My mom was a French teacher at the ballet school. I went with her and was watching the ballet classes. I liked it from the beginning. I started taking ballet classes in 1992 or 1993.

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

A: I enjoy dancing as if there was nothing more than the dance itself.

Q: do you have hobbies or special interests?

A: I am interested in the history of the world and the human conscience, massages and physical therapy.

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

A: I write stories.

New Moves Delivers

Dancer Taryn Mejia in "aBnOrMaL Normal" choreographed by Abdur-Rahim Jackson. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancer Taryn Mejia in “aBnOrMaL Normal” choreographed by Abdur-Rahim Jackson. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Kansas City Ballet opened its run of 2018 New Moves performances last night at the Bolender Center to a near sell-out crowd. The popular annual performances provide an outlet for creative choreographic expression for up and coming choreographers across the country, as well as, within the company. This year three Kansas City Ballet dancers (Emily Mistretta, Michael Davis, and Christopher Costantini) were awarded the chance to create new works on their fellow dancers along with three choreographers from the field (Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Mariana Oliveira, and Monique Meunier). The show opened with a work by Ballet Master Parrish Maynard set on the Second Company. Limited tickets are still available for this weekend’s performances. Order online or by calling 816.931.8993.

More on the blog about New Moves.

PERFORMANCE PHOTOS

Kansas City Ballet Second Dancers (KCB II) Marisa Whiteman and Gavin Abercrombie in "Fractals" choreographed by KCB Ballet Master Parrish Maynard. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Kansas City Ballet Second Dancers (KCB II) Marisa Whiteman and Gavin Abercrombie in “Fractals” choreographed by KCB Ballet Master Parrish Maynard. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Elysa Hotchkiss, Cameron Thomas, and Humberto Rivera Blanco in "Beyond Blood" choreographed by Emily Mistretta. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Elysa Hotchkiss, Cameron Thomas, and Humberto Rivera Blanco in “Beyond Blood” choreographed by Emily Mistretta. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Emily Mistretta and Joshua Bodden in "Evanesco" choreographed by Christopher Costantini. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Emily Mistretta and Joshua Bodden in “Evanesco” choreographed by Christopher Costantini. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancer Michael Davis in "aBnOrMaL Normal" choreographed by Abdur-Rahim Jackson.Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancer Michael Davis in “aBnOrMaL Normal” choreographed by Abdur-Rahim Jackson.Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Amanda DeVenuta and Gustavo Ribeiro with Kansas City Ballet Dancers in "Beauty in Chaos" choreographed by Mariana Oliveira. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Amanda DeVenuta and Gustavo Ribeiro with Kansas City Ballet Dancers in “Beauty in Chaos” choreographed by Mariana Oliveira. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Molly Wagner, Liang Fu and Lamin Pereira dos Santos in "Quatre Pièces de Clavecin" choreographed by Monique Meunier. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancers Molly Wagner, Liang Fu and Lamin Pereira dos Santos in “Quatre Pièces de Clavecin” choreographed by Monique Meunier. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers in "You Do You" choreographed by Michael Davis. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers in “You Do You” choreographed by Michael Davis. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

KCB II Profile: Divya Rea

Divya Rea joined Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II this season. She is originally from Wheaton, Ill.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I was three when my mom enrolled me in a ballet class. I loved dancing and continued to train and pursue my dream to one day dance professionally.

Q: what ARE PEOPLE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS a dancer?

A: People are usually surprised to learn how much time and effort goes into being a dancer. The days are long and the work never truly ends. There is always something to perfect, even after training for ten years. However, everything is worth it when I step on stage.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AS WELL AS ARTIST, WHAT MAKES UP YOUR DIET AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: Cross training is important for me. In addition to dance, I do Pilates and run on an elliptical machine. I’m also always on the lookout for new workouts to try. This summer I enjoyed the workouts at Orange Theory Fitness. As far as nutrition goes, I make sure I fuel my body with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. My favorite dish to make is riced cauliflower with salmon and zucchini.

Q: DO YOU HAVE HOBBIES OR SPECIAL INTERESTS?

A: Outside of ballet, I enjoy playing the piano, learning about philosophy, and reading about new scientific discoveries. Piano has always given me a way to lose myself in music. Philosophy fascinates me because I enjoy pondering unanswerable questions, while reading about scientific breakthroughs offers evidence that some mysteries may someday be solved.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA THAT YOU SWEAR BY?

A: One of my first ballet teachers would always tell me to “be a shepherd, not a sheep.” This has been my personal mantra since the age of 8. It reminds me to do what I believe is right, even if that means breaking from what is popular.

KC Hosts Youth American Grand Prix

Thirty-seven Kansas City Ballet School students are registered to perform 63 entries at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Semi-finals in Kansas City March 1-4, 2018. The number has grown each of the last three years that KCBS has started organizing students to compete.

KCBS Principal and YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye oversees the program for KCBS. “I like the idea of having an end goal all year. It motivates students. Ballet training is the long game and it can be hard to find new ways to motivate yourself to give 150% in every class. But with something like YAGP, there are smaller goals along the way that help motivate my students to continue pushing themselves. They work on these concepts of their performance and bring them into their classwork as well. It changes the way they take class and it opens them up to how lessons fit into the bigger picture.”

PREPARATION

Right now Nye and the other coaches are focusing on stamina—running the pieces until the dancers are comfortable. She likens it a bit to the Olympics. “We’re working on last minute polishes like nuances, artistry, and presentation. We’re making sure costumes and headpieces fit and conducting stage make up tutorials.”

With the competition happening here at home, the sheer number of KCBS students and ballet coaches are the highest they’ve been. Besides the chance to perform for a panel of accomplished judges, students have the opportunity to take master classes in ballet and dance from them as well. They also get to meet kids, like them, from all over who are passionate about ballet. And, of the 10,000 students around the US and the world competing at Semi-finals, only about 1,000 will be invited to the Finals in New York City in April. KCBS is hoping to again have students selected.

COMPETITION

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

This year’s KC Semi-finals performances will be held at The Folly Theater, downtown and Kansas City Ballet School is the location for master classes. The latter is very exciting to Grace Holmes, KCBS School’s director: “These master classes bring kids into our facility that have likely never been here before. The Bolender Center is a world-class facility for dance, so that’s a great thing. An added benefit is that the students may have a chance to observe our Kansas City Ballet company dancers at work in rehearsals. These YAGP students are often the most talented students at their own schools, having them in our ‘home’ gives us a chance to woo them with all we have to offer in the way of our Summer Intensive and Trainee programs.”

Nye says: “This year it’s definitely a draw to be here in KC, our students will dance in performances from classical or contemporary solos, to classical or contemporary Pas de Deux (dance for two), to small or large ensembles. It’s a lot to coordinate and it starts in the fall.”

Nye manages a lot of details for the competition including making sure everyone is registered, assisting with music selection and editing, advising on costume selection, providing makeup tutorials, arranging coaches, and providing schedules the week of the competition.

“Once YAGP publishes the order of the performances, I sit down and create schedules for all of my students of where they need to be and when,” Nye says. “It’s time consuming, but it becomes our bible during those four days.”

When asked to describe what it’s like during the competition, Nye says: “It’s hectic and busy and crowded. You kind of feel rushed and then at other times you’re just waiting around. It’s 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. each day for me. I’ll be rehearsing kids and getting them to the stage and assisting with makeup or costume issues all day. I’m grateful when a parent hands me a sandwich or a coffee… otherwise I’d never know what time it was. The 12 hours goes by really fast for me.”

This year, since the competition happens locally, more students and coaches are able to participate without travel costs.

COACHES

2018 KCBS Coaches: Dmitry Trubchanov, David Justin, Pamela Carney, Molly Wagner, Dillon Malinski, Sean Duus, Taryn Layne-Mulhern, Racheal Nye, Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye, and Gustavo Ribeiro. Several of these coaches also choreographed solos and ensembles especially for KCBS students. Ribeiro choreographed one solo. Justin choreographed three solos and a pas de deux. And, Joliecoeur-Nye choreographed a whopping 14 solos, one pas de deux, and one ensemble piece.

Holmes says: “I’m really excited to see the progress the students have made with different coaches. It will be interesting to see their influences. Every teacher provides something new, different strengths, different critiques… all working together to achieve better technique, musicality and artistry.”

The students, coaches, and parents have invested so much time and energy preparing for the Semi-finals. It’s time for the fun to begin with performances, master classes and meeting the other participating students from all over. In addition to these incredible experiences, each student receives a written evaluation of his/her performance(s) offering constructive critiques for ways to improve from the judges. Nye will read all of these evaluations to determine if they offer broader ways to improve class goals for the coming year. In this way everyone benefits from the process.

What drives Nye to take on so many students for this annual competition? “I like coaching,” Nye says. “And I REALLY like classical ballet! I enjoy providing the students with so much individual attention because ultimately it really helps their confidence.”

SUPPORT

If you’d like to attend the performances for the competition at The Folly, tickets will be available at the door for $10 for each day. You can also support the students and the school by leaving a comment on this post.

 

Interested in learning more about the 2017 YAGP competition?

https://www.kcballet.org/kcbs-competes-2017-yagp-finals-in-ny/

https://www.kcballet.org/yagp-competition-weekend/

 

Learn more about YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye:

https://www.kcballet.org/school/faculty/#nye

https://www.kcballet.org/kcbs-teacher-profile-racheal-nye/

KCB II Profile: Miranda Dafoe

Miranda Dafoe came to Kansas City Ballet in 2015 as a Trainee. Now she is dancing in her second season with Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I started taking classes when I was 3 years old. I haven’t stopped since!

Q: what ARE PEOPLE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS a dancer?

A: They are surprised by how many shoes we go through! I’m lucky to make two pairs last a week and they cost about $80-100 a pair!

New Moves 2017. Miranda Dafoe is pictured in the front center. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
New Moves 2017. Miranda Dafoe is pictured in the front center. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AS WELL AS ARTIST, WHAT MAKES UP YOUR DIET AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: I eat a lot of veggies and protein. My snack during rehearsal is always an RXBAR. And of course, I like to treat myself to dessert every once in a while! As far as fitness goes, I focus on cardio and core work at the gym.

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT KC?

A: I love that coming from San Francisco, KC has that “big city feel” as a small city.

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

A: I’m half Russian!

Second Company Alumni Updates

Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

When Devon Carney arrived in Kansas City to become Kansas City Ballet’s Artistic Director he brought with him a desire to add a second company. In his first season (2013-14) he added five members to KCB II. In his second season (2014-15) he brought KCB II to six dancers and added eight? Trainees. Since then members of these groups have not only gone on to join other dance programs as well as other companies, but some of them have climbed the ranks right here at KCB to become company members. Growing and developing talent has been the goal and it is being achieved.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Looking back over the second company rosters since 2013-14, the majority of the dancers have continued to dance and work in this field. Below is what we’ve found:

  • Kate Anderson: Kate was a member of Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) and Kansas City Youth Ballet (KCYB) before becoming a Trainee for the 2016-17 season. She is now a Trainee at Richmond Ballet.
  • Ivan Braatz: Ivan joined KCB II for the 2015-16 season and was promoted to a KCB Apprentice for the 2016-17 season. He is currently a dancer with Dayton Ballet in Ohio.
  • Rochelle Chang: Rochelle was a charter member of KCB II in the 2013-14 season and is now dancing her 4th season with American Contemporary Ballet in Los Angeles.
  • Lark Commanday: Lark , also a charter member of KCB II in the 2013-14 season stayed on for 2014-15 as well. After dancing as a member of St. Louis Ballet for their 2015-16 season, he went on to teach at Peoria Ballet.
  • Aimee Cover: Amy was a KCBS Summer Intensive student who was invited to become a Trainee for the 2014-15 season. She then danced with St. Louis Ballet.
  • Elizabeth Dennen: Elizabeth danced as a KCB Trainee for the 2015-16 season before becoming a dancer with NWA Ballet Theatre in Northwest Arkansas.
  • Katya Duncan: Katya was a charter member of KCB II in the 2013-14 season. She went on to dance with Bay Pointe Ballet.
  • Nikolas Gaifullin: Nikolas was a member of KCB II for two seasons, 2015-16 and 2016-17, before joining Atlanta Ballet as a company member this season.
  • Shane Horan: Shane attended KCBS’s Summer Intensive and was invited to become a KCB Trainee for the 2014-15 season. He then joined Ballet Idaho as a company dancer.
  • Scout Inghilterra: Scout was a KCB Trainee during the 2016-17 season.  She is currently a Trainee at Richmond Ballet.
  • Kelly Korfhage: Kelly was a member of KCB II for two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16) before joining Verb Ballets as a Company member in 2016.
  • Lukas Pringle: Lukas attended KCBS and was a member of KCYB before being invited to become a KCB Trainee for the 2016-17 season. He is now dancing with Richmond Ballet II.
  • Emily Ryall: Emily was a KCB Trainee for both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. In 2016 she was dancing with Quixotic and teaching dance at Trilogy Cultural Arts Centre in Olathe.
  • Morgan Sicklick: Morgan was a charter member of KCB II, dancing both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. In 2015 she joined wonderbound in Denver as a dancer.
  • Kristin Smith: Kristin attended KCBS and was a member of KCYB before being invited to become a KCB Trainee for both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. She continued as a Cincinnati Ballet Trainee.
  • Aaron Steinberg: Aaron danced with KCB II during the 2015-16 season. He now dances with Nashville Ballet as an apprentice.
  • Kara Troester: Kara attended the KCBS Summer Intensive and danced as a KCB Trainee for both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. She is now dancing with Oklahoma City Ballet’s Studio Company.

SEND UPDATES

If you are a former member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company, please let us know where you are now. Email info@kcballet.org. We’d love to keep up with your career.

 

Photo Credits:

Top–KCB II members Katya Duncan, Morgan Sicklick and Rochelle Chang from 2013-14. Photgraphy by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios. Middle–Second Company rehearsal from 2015-16. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling. Bottom–Kansas City Ballet Second Company Dancers Miranda Dafoe and Nikolas Gaifullin during a performance at the Leedy Volkos Art Center in 2016-17 season. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.

2018 Summer Programs Enrolling Now

2018 KCBS Summer Programs Brochure Cover. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
2018 KCBS Summer Programs Brochure Cover. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Enrollment has already begun for Kansas City Ballet School’s wide array of classes and camps for kids ages 2-18.

Summer is a great time to try ballet. The classes are 4 or 6-week sessions that meet 1-2 times a week. It’s a nice sample of what the fall and winter semesters bring. Summer camps meet four times in one week, with a performance during the final 15 minutes of class on the last day. Camp themes include Little Mermaid, Fairy Princess or Super Hero. Additional courses and workshops are available for ages 8-18.

“Our summer programs are a great way for children to spend the summer – physical and artistic activity combined,” KCB School Director Grace Holmes says. “Students who already dance can maintain and enhance their training, and those who  have never danced before can try something new.”

If your child is interested in ballet, this is the chance to try it!

FIND CLASSES AND INFO

Click here to learn more about the offerings.

 

Dancer Profile: Amanda DeVenuta

Company Dancer Amanda DeVenuta joined Kansas City Ballet at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: Once I was able to walk as a baby, I walked on my toes all the time. I wanted to do ballet from the start, and at 8 years old I knew this was what I needed to be doing.

Q: DO YOU HAVE HOBBIES OR SPECIAL INTERESTS?

A: I do. I have a ton! I think it’s important to be inspired by even the smallest of things, such as a jasmine bloom! I love writing poetry and I’m also really intrigued by the world of fragrance. I want to create my own perfume someday.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AS WELL AS ARTIST, WHAT MAKES UP YOUR NUTRITION AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: I’m pretty balanced with what I eat. I try and eat healthy main meals, but I definitely don’t deprive myself of doughnuts every once in a while! As far as extra fitness, yoga has strengthened my core while allowing me to focus on my breath getting to all of my muscles, especially fatigued ones. I also occasionally like to go to the gym or go on bike rides. Pilates is also a favorite.

New Moves Rehearsals. Dancer Amanda DeVenuta and Gustavo Ribeiro with Kansas City Ballet Dancers and Choreographer Mariana Oliveira. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling
New Moves 2018 Rehearsals. Dancer Amanda DeVenuta and Gustavo Ribeiro with Kansas City Ballet Dancers and Choreographer Mariana Oliveira. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling

Q: WHAT ARE MOST PEOPLE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS A DANCER?

A: They are surprised to learn that it never stops. Even when on a big layoff, for me, I never can take too much time off. I’m always trying to get stronger.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA?

A: “Find the beauty in everything.” It is inspiring to be able to look at simple things/pleasures in life and appreciate them. Life is beautiful and when I get caught up in its chaos, it helps to remember the little things and to not overlook them.

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT KC?

A: Its appreciation for the arts! I love how many people support the ballet, opera and symphony here in KC! I also love that there’s always something exotic to try. Whether it’s a creative new restaurant, or an intimate house concert, museums or coffee shops. It truly is a hidden gem.

Dancer Profile: Lilliana Hagerman

Company Dancer Lilliana Hagerman began dancing with Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II in 2014. In 2015 she was promoted to a company apprentice, and she’s been a member of the company ever since.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I was born in Italy and grew up in lots of places. My parents put me in dance classes when I was 6 after returning to the USA. They said I would dance everywhere I went, so they decided to enroll me into dance classes.

KCB Dancers Lilliana Hagerman, James Kirby Rogers, and Amanda DeVenuta in The Sleeping Beauty. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
KCB Dancers Lilliana Hagerman, James Kirby Rogers, and Amanda DeVenuta in The Sleeping Beauty. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Q: as a professional athlete as well as artist, what makes up your diet and fitness routine?

A: I am a pescatarian. I eat meat every now and then. But I take vitamins every day. I also try not to eat unhealthy food, but every now and then it happens.

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

A: I had two hip surgeries when I was only 21.

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

A: When I dance there is no room for outside problems. So for the few minutes I’m dancing, I am completely blissful.