The Nutcracker 2016 Kids’ Cast celebrated all of their hard work on Saturday, Nov. 19 with a cast party at the Bolender Center just for them. Attendees enjoyed an array of tasty snacks, great company, and goody bags from The Country Club Plaza. The curtain goes up on performances this Saturday, Dec. 3 with a 2 p.m. matinee at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are going fast, click here for more info or to buy yours today.
Irina Brouhard was born in the southern Ural Mountains of Central Russia. She began playing the piano at the age of 7. She attended Magnitogorsk College of Music graduating Suma Cum Laude and was one of only 20 accepted at Novosibirsk Conservatory of Music. After graduation, Irina went to the Armenian University as Concert Master for the Choral Department. In 1998, Irina accepted a position at the Magnitogorsk Ballet and Opera Theater as a Concertmaster but quickly rose to the position of Artistic Director. Irina also was Concertmaster at Magnitogorsk Conservatory of Music, a member of the Philharmonic Society of both Magnitogorsk and Chelyabinsk, and performed all over the Ural region and Siberia, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
In 2010, Irina moved to Kansas City and married.
She began to learn English at Longview Community College. One evening, she and her husband were planning to enjoy a holiday concert at a local church, but the musicians were no shows. Irina’s husband told the organizers that his wife could play. So, Irina played the music she knew by heart and the crowd applauded appreciatively. And again, music was part of her life.
She was asked to create additional piano programs over the next year or two including one about Russian Christmas—which she did. The Russian Christmas program received the attention of a reporter from the Lee’s Summit Journal.
After that, she took on piano students, which she enjoyed. But, then she heard of an opportunity to play
piano for ballet classes. She thought: “What if I play for ballet?” She had always been interested in ballet music but she’d never played for ballet before. She got the job and has never looked back. In fact, she’s flourished—recently earning a promotion after two years from a Pianist to Music Coordinator and Pianist. She now assists Kansas City Ballet Music Director Ramona Pansegrau with scheduling all accompanists for Kansas City Ballet School classes, Kansas City Ballet Company classes and rehearsals, and more.
“My duties as Music Coordinator and Pianist are to play for class and for company rehearsals, to make books of music by class category for pianists to use to play for any class—adding other genres like pas de deux, lower school, all Giselle music for class, etc., and translating Russian ballets into English so we can use them for class,” she says.
Irina also is creating collections of ballet music that will make life easier for these accompanists. “First, I made a big book of music for Russian Character class. I put together one book for each campus and soon there will be more versions for other classes as well,” she says. These collections will help any one of the pianists be able to play for class or sub for any class.
Every pianist has different qualifications. Some are more comfortable playing for younger students and some tend to find their strength with more complex music for more advanced classes. But with access to this incredible new tool, a book of ballet music pre-selected by genre and class type, every pianist has an opportunity to grow their own musical education as well.
“I believe ballet class is an education for your body and your mind—it’s also music education. We want to impress upon the students the joy of music so that it helps them dance with emotion. We work together with teachers so that they learn technique as well as musical appreciation,” says Irina.
After all, Irina says, “If you play with your soul, it helps kids to dance with their emotions.”
And that just makes all the hard work worth it in the end.
The Sugar Plum Fairy Children’s Ball is the annual fund raiser for the Kansas City Ballet School. This year the event includes a raffle that is open to both attendees and non-attendees. Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and are available at either KCBS Campus through Dec. 2nd and at the Ball on Dec. 3rd.
Raffle Items include (pictured above):
- American Girl Doll Maryellen with Living Room Set, Party Punch Set, Holiday Cookie Set, Ice Skating Outfit and Accessories, Christmas Party Outfit and Dog, Scooter ($397 value)
- $500 Tuition Voucher to Kansas City Ballet School(2 available)
- Ultimate Dance Bag: Vera Bradley Large Duffel, Lunch Bunch, Medium Zip Cosmetic, Zip ID Case with gift certificates from Elevé Dancewear and Dance Shoppekc ($284 value)
Children are very important to The Nutcracker production! This year we have 177 KC Ballet School students filling 213 dancing roles! The role of Clara will be danced by three students over the 23 public and three school matinee performances! Learn more about The Nutcracker and purchase tickets here. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling
Members of Kansas City Ballet’s BARRE group attended an open rehearsal for The Nutcracker on Thursday, Nov. 10th at the Bolender Center. It was a great opportunity for members, both new and prospective, to observe just what goes into a company rehearsal for one of KC’s most popular holiday traditions and to mingle with dancers and artistic staff.
Join BARRE for their next event with Kendra Scott Jewelry:
Shop at Kendra Scott’s new store in Leawood from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 22 and 20% of the proceeds will be donated to Kansas City Ballet and their Reach Out And Dance program for kids (R.O.A.D.). Can’t attend, but want to score some beautiful jewelry (for yourself or for someone else) while benefiting a great cause? Call the Kendra Scott store the day of the event to make a purchase over the phone. (Web orders will not count toward the donation.) More details are below.
Join BARRE on Nov. 22nd, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kendra Scott’s NEW Leawood location at 4533 W. 119th Street, Leawood, Kan.– includes free drinks and appetizers.
Racheal Nye is a full-time teacher here at Kansas City Ballet School. She is a graduate of the Kirov Academy in Washington D.C., where she attended on full scholarship and studied with Nikolai Morozov, Alla Sizova, and Elena Vinogradova. She then joined Ballet Internationale in Indianapolis and continued training with Irina Kolpakova and Vladien Semenov. In 2000, Racheal joined Nevada Ballet Theatre and was promoted to principal in 2006. Racheal has danced leading roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Cinderella, Balanchine’s Serenade and Who Cares?, as well as ballets by leading contemporary choreographers such as Val Caniparoli and Twyla Tharp. She was a finalist in the 2001 Concours De Luxembourg. As part of a cultural exchange, Racheal performed at the National Theatre in Seoul, Korea and Lisbon, Portugal. She was the Children’s Ballet Mistress for Nevada Ballet Theater and Ballet Idaho, as well as an Academy faculty member. Racheal has both taught and choreographed for Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas which was reviewed in Dancer Magazine. She is a guest teacher for many festivals and schools including Regional Dance America, Muse, and Bossov Ballet Theater. Her students have received top twelve and third place recognition in Youth America Grand Prix, and have received scholarships to international ballet academies. She is Pilates certified and specializes in rehabilitation.
Tell us a little about your career and how you got into teaching dance.
I went to school at the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C. While I was a graduate student, I had an injury. To recover I took class with the 10- to 12-year-old level. Their teacher, Adrienne Dellas-Thornton, was amazing. She had an intellectual way of approaching technique and asked very thoughtful questions. One day she pulled me aside and told me she believed I had an eye and talent for teaching. She mentored me in teaching the entire year and inspired me to pursue it while dancing professionally. I went on to dance for Ballet Internationale before finding a home at Nevada Ballet Theater, where I was a Principal Dancer and taught for 10 years.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I love to see a student learn self responsibility and set high expectations for their achievements. Then when they meet those achievements, their confidence and pride is hard earned and meaningful. I live and breathe ballet, so I try to express that love to my students.
What do you find challenging?
Sometimes it’s hard to separate myself. I am very invested in the students. Their failures are my failures, their success is my success.
You have been tapped to lead the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) program here at KCBS. What experience do you have with YAGP and what are your goals for KCBS in competing?
I brought students to YAGP for several years before moving to KC. What I like about YAGP for our students is that it challenges and motivates them. They are coached in artistic nuance and small details of technique. They learn to be accountable for the corrections they receive. I have seen kids really flourish with the one-on-one attention and extra performance opportunities. As they are learning parts from classical repertoire, they are exposed to some of the history of ballet: choreographers, composers, and libretto. They are also exposed to other talented kids their age from around the country. For me, its the process of preparing that is important, not necessarily the end result.
And, what do you consider successes or strengths from last year’s program?
I saw huge improvement in all of the students who participated last year. They were also very supportive of one another, and represented the school very well on a national level.
What is the process for preparing for YAGP?
We held an audition. Since then the students have been learning classical and contemporary repertoire that they work on from August through March in one-on-one coaching sessions. Then we travel to a semifinal where they will perform and take master classes with leading ballet teachers. If students are chosen to participate in the finals, they travel to NYC where the are part of the top 20% of competitors from around the world, and are considered for scholarships and contracts from top schools and companies internationally.
What is the most important thing you want your students to learn?
Personal integrity and hard work will help you be successful in any field including ballet… And to honor the history of ballet before us.
What is your favorite inspirational quote or personal mantra?
I asked my students if I had a quote and they said “too many to choose one.” So I guess I am full of motivational speeches. I think making each day feel important on the road of their training is my biggest mantra.
How do you set goals and measure success for yourself and for your students?
I am constantly setting goals for myself. Goals for the hour, or week, or month. It helps if I break the year down into benchmarks so that we accomplish what we need to by the end of the year. If you see me in the building, this is usually what I am thinking about.
In case you haven’t seen it, our TV commercial for The Nutcracker, featuring KCB Dancer Tempe Ostergren, is airing now.
Tickets are still available. Click here to buy.