School Notes: First-ever Senior School Showcase at Bolender Center

Eight seniors took part in the first-ever Senior Showcase for Kansas City Ballet School’s Academy Division at the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity on Thursday, May 10th. The showcase was created to give seniors a chance to invite friends and family to see their solo performances. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

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Virginia Smith

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Monika Overend


Audrey Calovich


Alex Ayers


Mackenzie Cox

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Kate Anderson

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Sierra DeYoung

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Stefanie Noll


Guild Notes: Highlights from the Spring Luncheon

The Kansas City Ballet Guild’s 2016 Spring Luncheon was held on May 10th at The Hilton President Hotel. It was the final, official event for Guild President Lisa Hickok before passing the torch to President Elect Mark Sappington. Hickock thanked the outgoing Guild Board for all their work and welcomed the new, expanded 2016-2017 board. KCB II performed. Photography: Larry F. Levenson


2016 Ballet Bash Chairman Kimberlee Ried, 2014-2016 Guild President Lisa Hickok, 2016-2017 Guild President Mark Sappington, Gigi Rose, Francie Mayer


Back row:  Peggy Beal, Michelle Fasel, Juliette Singer Spinks, Jo Anne Dondlinger, Vicki Baxter, Edie Downing. Front row: Gigi Rose, Sara Bower Youngblood, Gail Van Way


Artistic Director Devon Carney with KCB Second Company Dancers Lindsay Dekleva, Kelly Korfhage, Kristin Smith, Aaron Steinberg, Miranda Dafoe, Nikolas Gaifullin, Goldie Walberg, Kara Troester, Emily Ryall, Melanie Jensen, Second Company Manager Anthony Krutzkamp, and Marisa Whiteman

Music Notes: Where’s Ramona this Summer?

Ramona Pansegrau - Web

As she has for years, Kansas City Ballet Music Director Ramona Pansegrau will spend her summer wearing a variety of “hats” and preparing musical scores for the season ahead.

From June 13-26, 2016, Ms. Pansegrau will be the Music Director for the School at Jacob’s Pillow as she has been for 14 years now. The Festival, School, Archives and Community Programs at Jacob’s Pillow take place in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, a mecca for dance that hearkens back to 1894. To learn more about the Pillow, click here.

And, for the first time Ms. Pansegrau has been appointed music director at the National Choreographic Institute July 18-28, 2016 at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The program is in its 58th year. She’ll be in good company working with Val Caniparoli, this year’s choreographic director. Mr. Caniparoli is incidentally, a choreographer for a ballet called The Lottery, based on the short story by Shirley Jackson, which Kansas City Ballet will perform as part of our “Director’s Choice” performances May 12-21, 2017.

Ms. Pansegrau will be teaching choreographers the ins and outs of selecting music and securing musical rights, as well as, how to break the piece down for musical mapping and translating for choreographers, and more.

School Notes: Highlights from the Spring Performance

On May 12th, Kansas City Ballet School presented their Spring Performance at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Nearly 400 students took part on stage in more than 30 dance pieces on the program for close to 1,100 audience members. Photographer: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.


Members of the Trainee Company performed Pavane choreographed by David Justin and set to the music of John Adams


A large group of Level 3 dancers performed Kettentanz: Eisele und Beisele Sprünge, Opus 202
choreographed by Stephanie McKinney Eppler to the music of Johann Strauss Sr.


Levels 7/8 students performed Symphony in G minor choreographed by Grace Holmes to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Level 5 students performed Le Waltz Bleu choreographed by Susan Lewis with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Level 4 performs La Bayadère Valse choreographed by Pamela Carney to the music of Ludwig Minkus



Behind Closed Doors: Kansas City Ballet’s Archive Thrives

When the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity opened in August 2011, it included a temperature-controlled archival room complete with retractable shelving. The work behind this space began eight years ago in 2008 when the Kansas City Ballet Guild launched the project, contracted a professional archivist and began a collecting effort. Consulting Archivist Lois Kauffman has been flying in from New York two to three times a year to direct the project with the help of Guild volunteers.

Now the Tatiana Dokoudovska Library and Archives has amassed a trove of historic photos, videos, artifacts, costumes, and documents. This important collection tells the story of the birth and growth of the Kansas City Ballet.  It documents the Ballet’s achievements and its key role in bringing ballet to this region.  Many people have contributed — dancers, dance devotees, patrons, and staff — and the collection grows steadily.

The collection is made up of four main parts. A collection of artifacts belonging to the founder of the company, Tatiana Doukoudovska (or Miss Tania as she’s more lovingly referred to) that was donated by former student, company member and friend Michele Hamlet-Weith; former Artistic Director Todd Bolender’s collection that was donated by friend and Ballet patron Sarah Rowland; former Artistic Director William Whitener’s collection was donated by Mr. Whitener himself; and company memorabilia spanning nearly 60 years.

To make a donation of historical items or a monetary gift, contact


The archives are contained in a long, narrow room with retractable shelving.


(Left to Right) Contractual Archivist Lois Kauffman is pictured here with Guild Co-Chairs for the Archives Lisa Schubert Hickok and Jean Murphy.


When Lois is in town, a make-shift cataloging space is created just outside the archives themselves in the costume storage department.


Lois shows how photographs are cataloged.


Jean Murphy is a former dancer and former wardrobe mistress in addition to currently co-chairing the archives committee for the Guild. She holds up part of The Vamp’s costume from Todd Bolender’s Souvenirs which now resides in the archives.


In addition to her title of Co-chair of the Archives Committee, Lisa Schubert Hickok is the current Guild President, a former company dancer and a former marketing director for the company. Here she holds up Kansas City Ballet’s original sign.

Behind the Music: Ballet Pianists


Currently, Kansas City Ballet employs 15 pianists to play for ballet classes for professional dancers in our Company and Second Company rehearsals, as well as, ballet classes for our Academy and Studio students. The ballet also employs the Kansas City Symphony to play for performances at the Kauffman Center, and recently UMKC Conservatory musicians played for one of the pieces on the New Moves programs. As a result of these relationships, Kansas City Ballet is the second largest employer of musicians in the city behind the Kansas City Symphony.

It makes sense when you reason that music is half of the art form of dance. So, it sounds relatively simple to schedule pianists to play for all ballet classes.

It’s not.

Music Director Ramona Pansegrau begins working on her Summer Schedule of pianists in mid-February but their final deadline to give her their availability for scheduling is Mid-March. It’s a beast of a project that literally papers the walls of her office. Last year she had to redo the schedule three times. She has 9 studios to fill at two locations during Kansas City Ballet School’s (KCBS) Summer Intensive and Junior Summer Intensives this summer. Over the summer there is an average of 200 hours a week of live piano music played in the studios.

Pianists range in their level of skill and their area of specialty. Some are better at rhythms and improvisation, some are more skilled with playing for small children or for older classes using more complex musical variations. For example, Jeffrey Ruckman is specializing in Adaptive Dance classes that are geared to children with developmental delays.

The pianists must be ready for guest artists who are hired to teach at the KCBS’s summer intensives. “On occasion they must site read like mad on short notice. But typically I prepare a repertory book for each pianist by the end of May for the coming year because they have to know what to do before the dancers do with tempos, cues, etc.… before the instructor says it,” Pansegrau says. “They have to be ready and able to play any and all of it before the class meets, so that they don’t have to site read.”

They are introducing students to wonderful music and scores. And Pansegrau believes this experience with beautiful music can develop this one-on-one exposure that allows students to feel something new.

All of the pianists have degrees in music. Pansegrau says, “The rule is they can’t play anything for class that can be sung in English. The more live music, the better for dancers. It’s more spontaneous and inspiring. I’m pleased to say the proficiency of our pianists is going way up. For example, Evangelos Spanos tours internationally performing on piano and will be leaving for Greece soon. I’m thrilled to have them all. They are all lovely people who each have a story. It’s a joy watching them discover and explore the music that you only hear in ballet music. I’m on the hunt for more pianists all the time.”

Event Recap: Patrons End of Season Party at Roth Living

On Thursday, May 19, Kansas City Ballet’s board of directors, top donors, dancers, and staff attended the annual end of season party. This time the event was held at Roth Living on the Plaza in their state-of-the-art showroom and kitchen. A wall of TVs was the perfect way to display video clips from the season that made attendees feel as if they were onstage with the dancers. KC Ballet Board President Claire Brand welcomed the group and led the applause for an amazing season. Executive Director Jeffrey Bentley gave the crowd food for thought regarding next year’s fundraising goals. And Artistic Director Devon Carney whet their appetite for all the delights they will experience as audience members for the 2016-2017 season of performances at the Kauffman Center. Music Director Ramona Pansegrau’s 10th anniversary was celebrated as were the accomplishments of retiring dancers Logan Pachciarz, Ryan Joliecoeur-Nye and Geoffrey Kropp. Thank you to Cindy St. John from Roth Living, one of our newest corporate sponsors, for graciously hosting such a generous event. Thank you also to Rivas Photography.

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KC Ballet Board President Claire Brand welcomes the crowd.
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Patrons Vicki Baxter and Sue Ann Fagerberg toast a season well done.
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Guests enjoy an amazing spread served in Roth Living’s amazing demonstration kitchen.
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Artistic Director Devon Carney describes the upcoming 2016-2017 season.
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Cindy St. John from Roth Living
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Retiring dancers Logan Pachciarz and Ryan Joliecouer-Nye pose with Jeff Bentley and Devon Carney.