The Kansas City Ballet School’s 2017 Junior Summer Intensive that began June 5th wrapped up today with a studio demonstration by the students. Specifically designed with the young dancer in mind, this four-week program offers students ages 9-13 (females who are pre-pointe or beginning pointe students) a rigorous and comprehensive study of ballet technique and exposure to a broad variety of dance styles. All curriculum is presented in a nurturing and positive environment at Kansas City Ballet School’s Johnson County Campus.
Students experience a truly unique program working with members of the Kansas City Ballet’s artistic staff, nationally acclaimed guest teachers as well as KCB School faculty. Former Prima Ballerina with Miami City Ballet, Iliana Lopez, and Michele Gifford from New York City Ballet were guest teachers.
On Sunday, June 25th, the students participated in a demonstration by Kansas City Ballet School as part of The Future Stages Festival at the Kauffman Center.
“It was so fun watching the students express their joy of dance at both demonstrations. It was especially inspiring to witness them performing their repertory pieces this afternoon,” said KCB School Director Grace Holmes.
This was the 5th year of the program and 40 students participated.
The student dancers have arrived and the former Union Station Power House has become their new home for the next few weeks. From the moment they first walked in and saw the light fixtures that used to be operating coal shoots, remnants of 103 years of history were evident.
These past six years, Kansas City Ballet has been thrilled to call the Bolender Center home—the Summer Intensive attendees will soon feel the same. With seven studios, including the 180-seat Michael and Ginger Frost Studio Theater, there is plenty of space to enjoy their time here.
2: Dance Faculty
Throughout the five weeks with KCBS, Kansas City Ballet faculty and guest teachers play a significant role in the students’ overall experience. Students are really breaking out of their normal routines and getting exposed to different teaching styles.
Tobin James, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Faculty
And all classes during the program will be accompanied by Kansas City Ballet School Pianists and Accompanists.
3: Meeting Fellow Students
Of the more than 180 students for 2017, more than half stay in the dorms at the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Missouri—Kansas City. The remaining students are a mix of KCBS students and others from the region and beyond. Many of the program attendees have traveled to the Kansas City Ballet from 33 different states across the country, two even journeyed from Bulgaria. With such a variety of backgrounds but the common thread of ballet, these dancers are sure to connect with each other.
4: Exploring Kansas City
While visiting Kansas City, there are plenty of exciting attractions for the students to explore in their free time including watching the 2015 World Series Champion Royals play, cheering on the Sporting KC soccer team, attending KC Dance Festival at the historic Folly Theater, taking in a musical outdoors at Starlight Theatre and more. Enthusiasm for true blue KC is sure to take hold.
And last not but least the reason the dancers are here at Kansas City Ballet…
5: Dancing, Dancing, Dancing
Kansas City Ballet’s Summer Intensive will not only help students grow as a dancers, but as people as well. With the warm, passionate atmosphere at the Bolender Center, dedicated dancers will feel at home. From the variety of classes, faculty, and the beautiful facility, the Summer Intensive program will be five weeks well spent. Let’s dance!
Beginning to take dance classes at only 3 years old has paid off for Kansas City Ballet School student, Emma Heithoff. After attending dance schools in Waukee and Des Moines, Iowa, Emma was able to begin training in the Academy’s Daytime Program. This program offers daily classes from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and is for ballet students who are looking for more hours of intensive training as compared to those offered in the afternoon program.
After attending the 2015 and 2016 Summer Intensive programs, Emma was thrilled to return to the Kansas City Ballet. “While I didn’t believe my experience could possibly get better, this past summer provided even more opportunity by allowing me to hear about the Daytime Program,” she said. “I believe this summer program is extremely appealing with its emphasis on strong technique, expression through the upper body, and versatility as a dancer with the plethora of classes offered.” One of Emma’s major influences was her summer teacher, Racheal Nye. “I really enjoy how she brings the idea of how strong technique should always be a priority while teaching in a tough yet extremely motivating way,” she said.
Since joining the Daytime Program with the Kansas City Ballet, Emma has already identified significant benefits. “I have loved the opportunity to have two-hour technique classes followed by one-hour pointe classes and other electives every single day,” she said. “This gives each of us the ability to improve at a faster rate than we were previously with the addition of more hours spent in the studio.”
Throughout the course of a new program, struggles are bound to occur. “I have definitely experienced a number of challenges including some issues with my back and feet while also learning how to manage injuries while dancing for so many hours,” Emma said. “Even with a higher pain tolerance after dancing since I was young, I have learned many different self-care practices in both injury prevention and taking care of myself in order to stay healthy and continue doing what I love.”
“I have also faced the challenges of continuing to fix bad habits while trying not to become frustrated when I do not see immediate progress,” she said. As these endeavors have not been easy for Emma, she has learned they can be rewarding. “Throughout working through these challenges, I feel as if I have developed some valuable skills to help me through both my dancing and events outside of the studio.”
Since joining the Academy’s Daytime Program, Emma has been offered many exciting opportunities. These include performing with the professional company as an Angel in The Nutcracker, as a Courtier and a member of the “Garland Waltz” in The Sleeping Beauty, and a significant role in the Kansas City Youth Ballet’s performance of Giselle. “This past semester, I had the opportunity to perform the Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle as well as a neoclassical pas in a work choreographed by Dillon Malinski,” she said. “I have never been cast in a performing pas de deux before this year, so this was an extremely fun opportunity to work on my partnering in two completely different pieces of repertoire.”
Stationed on the Mezzanine in the Bolender Center, you’ll find two bronze statues of female dancers that are so lifelike it’s common for them to be mistaken for real dancers. “Dreaming About” and “Unbearable Elevation” are the work of sculptor Rafael Muyor.
Both Muyor sculptures were graciously donated to Kansas City Ballet by Miller and Jeannette Nichols in 1999. Prior to that, they had been displayed at the Nichols’ office on the Country Club Plaza.
Kansas City Ballet is grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Nichols for their ongoing support.
Rafael Muyor, Sculptor
Rafael Muyor was born in Madrid, Spain in 1943. He studied Industrial Design in Madrid, and then traveled to Milan and Paris where he perfected his technique of modeling. His work with bronze creates organic sculptures with volume and movement. Muyor breaks the coldness of the metal, giving his works great warmth and stunning realism.
Muyor has had solo exhibitions in Segovia, Salamanca, Malaga and Madrid, as well as in the Gallery Seiquer. His work has also been found in Gallery Four Seventeen. He has participated in, among others, the First Biennial for Plastic Arts Segovia in 1981; at Arch 1985 and 1989; Art London, Saga 1990, and 1992; Art Miami 1992, and 1996. His most recent works have been shown in the Municipal Center for the Arts – Alcorcón 2001 and at the Galería Leandro Navarro in the fall of 2006.
In August 2011, Kansas City Ballet opened the doors of their first permanent home, the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity.
The former Union Station Power House, is named for former Artistic Director Emeritus Todd Bolender, who incidentally was born in 1914—the same year this building was built. Bolender, a former dancer and choreographer with George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, led the company from 1980 to 1995.
For nearly six years, Kansas City Ballet has enjoyed the Bolender Center and its seven studios, including the 180-seat Michael and Ginger Frost Studio Theater. The latter serves as the venue for KC Ballet’s annual New Moves program, as well as Second Company, Kansas City Youth Ballet, Kansas City Ballet School and other community group performance space. It also shares the same specs as the Muriel Kauffman Theatre stage—making it ideal for company rehearsals.
There are still remnants of the building’s past when you look up at the yam colored coal shoots that now serve as light fixtures. Long gone is the 250′ chimney. It was taken down in the 1975 to prevent damage from it eventually falling on its own. Gone also is the tree that used to grace the roof in the 90s. After nearly six years, and a great urban renaissance in Kansas City, it’s hard to imagine KC Ballet’s home anywhere else.
In addition to administrative and rehearsal space for the company, the Bolender Center also houses Kansas City Ballet School’s downtown campus. From academy programs for ages 3-18 including a new daytime program for serious students ages 11-18, to junior studio and adult studio classes, the Bolender Center is ‘Always On’.
For more history about Kansas City Ballet, please click here.