Tempe Ostergren joined Kansas City Ballet in the fall of 2010. She had studied at The School of American Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet, both known for their George Balanchine influences. Next she danced with Boston Ballet, known for their classical ballet style. Her experiences with these entities would shape her for her next position with Kansas City Ballet. Uniquely positioned for a growing company, Tempe was ready for the change.
She’s danced many coveted roles including Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the title role in Giselle, Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (both William Whitener’s and Devon Carney’s versions), Mina in Michael Pink’s Dracula and one of her favorite, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. Any one of these roles is an accomplishment and part of a ballerina’s bucket list. But Swan Lake holds a place in her heart. “Dancing this role felt like I was connected to all the generations of previous ballerinas who’d danced this role. It’s a special accomplishment—a bond.” Tempe says.
Working with the legendary Cynthia Gregory was one of her career highlights. “She helped me make the role my own. Her focus was on expressing the emotion of the scene. By getting that right you enrich the experience for everyone,” Tempe says.
Tempe will retire after 20 years as a professional ballerina.
Of Kansas City, Tempe shares her appreciation of the audiences. She considered them accepting, nurturing even. They empowered her to have freedom to perform onstage without fear and judgement. She appreciates the quality of life that KC has offered. “It’s a big city with lots of arts offerings, but without the steep costs and traffic. And the supporters are loyal and easy to talk to.”
She feels lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. She never felt pegged as one type of dancer. And having danced for two decades without a major injury, she beat the odds. Her whole career was spent with her nose to the grindstone. She’s proud that she stayed true to herself and worked diligently on her technique. She is grateful for the faith she had in herself and her rich collection of experiences both in the studio and on stage.
Not one to ever stop progress. Tempe will continue to teach ballet classes at Kansas City Ballet School as her schedule allows. But she’s excited for her next role: mother. Her son is due this summer.
“I’ve heard that as one transitions from dancing, you never know how you will feel. It’s a totally different chapter ahead,” she says. She fully expects to immerse herself in motherhood. But down the road she imagines her interests in gardening, going back to college and teaching or coaching ballet students will come to the forefront.
“With ballet I cannot say goodbye. Never goodbye,” she says with a smile.