Dance Festival: Why Dancers are Excited

Kansas City Ballet’s 60th Anniversary Dance Festival kicks off Friday, April 6 and runs through April 15. Find out why our dancers are excited for these upcoming programs.

 

Angelina Sansone | Company Dancer Since 2005

“I am happy to be sharing my 13th and final season with Kansas City Ballet’s 60th anniversary.

As many dancers would agree, Working on Jiří Kylián movement has always been something I’ve wanted to do before I retire.  I’ve been inspired by Andrea Schermoly’s work for some time as well, but this entire program is jam packed with moments I’m excited for. I love mixed rep programs. It allows us to be in the studio working on so many different things, with multiple stagers and choreographers. We are constantly changing gears and pushing ourselves mentally and physically.

Over my career the KC audiences have watched me change and learn, trying on many styles and adapting to different characters. They’ve seen me with everything stripped away, vulnerable, joyful, scared, strong, passionate… a dancer and a human. I honestly just can’t wait to get out there on that stage, give my all, dance unabashedly, and go on that ride with my fellow dancers, the musicians, and the audiences. Happy 60th!!!!” Bio

 

Whitney Huell | Company Dancer Since 2014

The Man in Black is the ballet I’m most looking forward to performing. I’ve never done a ballet in boots before! It’s also rare to remain onstage for an entire ballet.  I’m thrilled to experience the connection between four dancers onstage creating movement to six cover songs by Johnny Cash. The rehearsal process has been eye opening for me and I’ve learned how to move my body in many new and fulfilling ways.” Bio

 

James Kirby Rogers | Company Dancer Since 2016

“Truthfully this 60th Anniversary Dance Festival has been a dream come true for me. I have wanted to dance Petite Mort since I was 14 years old. I remember watching the iconic video for the first time and being in rapture. The simplicity of the piece, the cohesiveness of the props, music and choreography blew me away. Each element intermingled to form something that even through a small computer screen was mesmerizing. Now I have the chance to make it my own which is an incredible gift. If that wasn’t enough I remember when I was a student in Houston Ballet Academy watching a video of Stanton Welch’s Play and thinking how it looked like pure fun. I am honored to get to perform the pas de deux in Play and dance to music that I personally love and listen to regularly.” Bio

 

Marisa Whiteman | KCB II, Kansas City Ballet Second Company

“I have been very excited about rehearsing Play because it brings me back to growing up in New York City, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life with everyone going about their daily routines. The work is set to music by Moby, and the music helps take you on a journey of feelings and emotions throughout the ballet. You are going to love it!” Bio

 

Georgia Fuller | First Year | Trainee, Kansas City Ballet Second Company

“What I am most excited about for the Anniversary Dance Festival is the diverse repertoire being presented. The varied and eclectic dance styles in the program really show off the many strengths of Kansas City Ballet’s company dancers. I especially love the contrast between the very intimate and contemporary Petite Mort verses the very classical and elegant Balanchine’s Diamonds. I look forward to seeing these beautiful pieces take the stage and leave the audience awestruck!”

 

It’s not too late to get tickets or learn more about the Diamonds (April 6-8) or The Man in Black (April 13-15).

 

Photography by Tom Styrkowicz of 53 Studio.

 

Devon Carney Talks Dance Festival

Dear Dance Enthusiast,

This is a very exciting time in the history of Kansas City Ballet. How wonderful to say we are 60 years old—celebrating our age, maturity and staying power in the cultural landscape of KC! So, in honor of our 60th I’ve brought together six incredible, challenging and inspiring works for our KCB artists to perform. These ballets represent the incredible diversity of works in the field of dance and help showcase the talents within our current assemblage of world-class artists.

Kansas City Ballet Dancers Angelina Sansone and Liang Fu rehearse a world premiere by Andrea Schermoly. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Angelina Sansone and Liang Fu rehearse a world premiere by Andrea Schermoly. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.

Given a dancer’s career is only so long, it’s important to seize opportunities to perform a variety of ballets to experience it all, or as much as one can! This diverse collection of works in a compact time period is just that chance. Performing both Jirí Kylián’s Petite Mort and also the highly regarded Balanchine’s Diamonds is a treat, then to turn around and dance contemporary work like James Kudelka’s The Man in Black and Stanton Welch’s Play is incredible, but that’s not to mention the thrill of being in on the creative genesis of two new works from Matthew Neenan and Andrea Schermoly. This will be two weekends for the books!

Kansas City Ballet Dancer Michael Davis rehearsing The Man In Black. Choreography by James Kudelka. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.
Kansas City Ballet Dancer Michael Davis rehearsing The Man In Black. Choreography by James Kudelka. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.

As an audience member, these experiences can equate to a fabulous banquet where you find lots of
tasty treats to delight your palate. This magnificent variety of dance has been produced in the latter 20th century right up until today. What’s more… all but one of these choreographers are still living. I applaud you for taking a risk to see this program. The payoff can be priceless: enjoying more entertainment diversity, developing a deeper love and appreciation of dance and being able to share that personal experience with those close to you. Thank you for trusting us and earning your hypothetical dance pioneer badge.

Kudos to our dancers for their extraordinary efforts in presenting this series. It’s an arduous undertaking for us and unprecedented for our company to tackle six works in this short amount of time. But we believe the risk is worth it. The dancers are thrilled and we think you will be, too!

Kansas City Ballet Dancers Taryn Mejia and Michael Davis rehearse Petite Mort. Choreography by Jiří Kylián. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Taryn Mejia and Michael Davis rehearse Petite Mort. Choreography by Jiří Kylián. Photography: Elizabeth Stehling.

Yours,
Devon Carney, Artistic Director

Dancer Profile: Kaleena Burks

Kaleena Burks has been a Kansas City Ballet dancer since the 2010-2011 season.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I started ballet when I was 3 years old. My mother enrolled me in dance because she also danced as a child.

Q: WHAT IS SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE WOULDN’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

A: I’m obsessed with all things vintage. I love going to the West Bottoms to antique shop!

Dancer Kaleena Burks in rehearsal of Diamonds for the Anniversary Dance Festival. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Dancer Kaleena Burks in rehearsal of Diamonds for the Anniversary Dance Festival. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

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

A: That we literally dance all day! We have an atypical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (in our case 6 p.m.) job, but we are up and moving for all of those hours.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA?

A: I always tell myself when I’m having a rough day or feeling exhausted that I will be out of my funk—a sort of “This too shall pass” mentality.

Q: IF YOU FIND YOU HAVE AN UNEXPECTED HOUR FREE, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR IDEAL WAY TO SPEND IT AND WHY?

A: When I do have the rare hour off, you can usually find me in a studio sewing pointe shoes. I like to watch my colleagues dance, and I always need more sewn shoes.

Guild Book Club

When is a book club more than a book club? When it’s organized by Mark Sappington.

Sappington has filled many roles with Kansas City Ballet over the years including Board President and Member, Guild President, former chair of the Patrons Society, Bolender Center Campaign Co-chair, and longtime subscriber and donor. His most recent position is leader of the Guild’s Book Club/Movie Nights. The Guild is a group of over 180 members who serve as advocates for dance and ballet in the Kansas City community.

This year the Guild’s book club had five books on their list and for each one, Sappington arranged for some additional educational component or special guest to be part of the discussion.

“I believe you have to provide different portals of entry for ballet. This is a way of reaching out to people who are interested in exploring the history of dance,” Sappington says.

JULY: A BIOGRAPHY OF SERGEI PAVLOVICH DIAGHILEV

Last July, the group started off by choosing their own books about Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev the Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes. They ranged from art picture books to various biographies. “It was fascinating to see which books people chose and to discuss the life of this ballet aficionado.”

SEPTEMBER: NO WAY HOME

In September, they read No Way Home by Carlos Acosta. Acosta, a Cuban dancer, was considered to be one of the world’s greatest performers. He began life in the slums of Havana before grueling hard work took him around the world. It is his story of the price he paid for success. It was noted that former Kansas City Ballet dancer Juan Pablo Trujillo was friends with Carlos Acosta.

NOVEMBER: THE PAINTED GIRLS

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan from 2014 was the choice for November. This historical novel about two sisters her served as muse for Edgar Degas, touched on ballet in a different setting in 1878 Paris. As part of the discussion, the book club took a special tour of Degas’ sculptures and drawings of ballet dancers that was on display recently at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, led by Nelson-Atkins docent and KCB Guild Member Barb Nicely.

JANUARY: APOLLO’S ANGELS: A HISTORY OF BALLET

The history of ballet was revealed in Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans. Homans is an historian, critic and former professional ballerina devoted to all things ballet. As part of the discussion, Kansas City Ballet Music Director Ramona Pansegrau joined the group and shared her wealth of knowledge about amazing historical stories.

MARCH: THE MASTER’S MUSE

Guild Book Club at Emilie's French Teas to discuss "The Master's Muse" by Varley O'Connor.
Guild Book Club at Emilie’s French Teas to discuss “The Master’s Muse” by Varley O’Connor.

In March the group discussed The Master’s Muse by Varley O’Connor—a novel about the love affair between George Balanchine and Tanaquil Le Clercq. In 1956, Tanny is a gorgeous young ballerina at the top of her game and married to the legendary Balanchine. She falls ill and loses the ability to walk. Kansas City Ballet Archives revealed a letter from Tanny to Kansas City Ballet’s former Artistic Director Todd Bolender she’d dictated to her mother around the time of her illness. Several Guild members also shared their interactions with Tanny and others mentioned in the book.

MAY: WHEN BALLET BECAME FRENCH

The final book in this season’s lineup is When Ballet Became French by Ilyana Karthas, associate professor at the University of Columbia. The book explores the correlation between ballet and French nationalism. The author will attend the discussion in May.

WANT TO JOIN?

Interested in joining the Guild Book Club? Become a Guild Member. Click here to learn more and to join.

Trainee Profile: Emma Fridenmaker

KCB Trainee Emma Fridenmaker. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
KCB Trainee Emma Fridenmaker. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Originally from Villa Hills, Ky. just outside of Cincinnati, Emma Fridenmaker joined Kansas City Ballet as a Trainee for the 2017-2018 season. This is her first season as a Trainee.

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

A: It has always been my dream to dance professionally for as long as I can remember. I wanted to dance because my older sister danced and I wanted to be just like her. So, when I started preschool, I took the ballet class they offered there. Then the following year, I started my training at Cincinnati Ballet.

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

A: I enjoy performing. I love being on stage and being able to really embody a character. I also enjoy the bond that is created between all the dancers.

Q: do you have hobbies or special interests?

A: I really enjoy making jewelry—back home, my best friend and I would make and sell jewelry to the kids in the Nutcracker cast. I also love baking. My specialty is chocolate chip cookies.

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

A: It is life consuming. Everything revolves around your future and your career.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA?

A: Be an encourager. The world already has enough critics.

Event Recap: 2018 BARRE Soiree

Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock

On Friday, March 9 at Pennway Place Event Space, BARRE KC hosted nearly 150 attendees at The BARRE Soirée—a cocktail event complete with drinks and delicious small bites and desserts, plus a performance by Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company. The event also featured DJ Ashton Martin, voted Best of KC “Party/Club DJ” by Pitch Magazine. A Silent Auction and a Kendra Scott Jewelry Pull were also included.

Proceeds raised will help fund 16 Reach Out And Dance (R.O.A.D.) Scholarship Schools allowing the program to reach 800+ kids in the Kansas City Public School District and Turner School District. R.O.A.D. is a 12 to 24-week dance residency program designed for 3rd and 4th grade students in schools in Missouri and Kansas. R.O.A.D especially helps children who learn in non-traditional ways, promoting self- esteem and confidence by incorporating movement lessons in conjunction with their studies.

BARRE KC is the premier organization for young adults interested in supporting Kansas City Ballet.

PHOTOS FROM THE SOIRéE

Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
2018 Barre Soiree performance by Kansas City Ballet's Second Company. Photo by Don Ipock.
2018 Barre Soiree performance by Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company. Photo by Don Ipock.

Kendra Scott Jewelry representative working the jewelry pull. Photo by Don Ipock.

Kendra Scott Jewelry representative working the jewelry pull. Photo by Don Ipock.

Attendees perusing the Silent Auction. Photo by Don Ipock
Attendees perusing the Silent Auction. Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
Stephen Peppes, Jacqui and Kyle Ward. Photo by Don Ipock.
Stephen Peppes, Jacqui and Kyle Ward. Photo by Don Ipock.
Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
Photo by Don Ipock
The dance floor heating up. Photo by Don Ipock
The dance floor heating up. Photo by Don Ipock

 

KCB II Profile: Angelin Carrant

Angelin Carrant joined the Kansas City Ballet this season as a member of KCB II, part of Kansas City Ballet’s second company. He is originally from Paris, France.

Q: how did you become a dancer?

A: My mother brought me to my first ballet class at the age of 9. She wanted all of her children to take at least one ballet class.

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

A: I wouldn’t say people are too surprised when I tell them I’m a dancer. They think it’s cool.

Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES?

A: I love playing the piano. I really enjoy finding pieces and being able to teach them to myself.

Q: What DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A DANCER?

A: I enjoy being able to do something that I love every day and it being my profession. Dancing on a stage is a plus as well.

2018-2019 Season Announced!

 

Our 2018-2019 Season opens with the much anticipated WORLD PREMIERE of Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz, continues with the KANSAS CITY PREMIERE of Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camelliasand closes with a contemporary, tour-de-force line-up with three celebrated American choreographers in Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, William Forsythe’s high-voltage thrill ride, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevatedand a World Premiere by David Parsons.

ADD ON PERFORMANCES

 

The season also includes the annual return of the nationally-recognized, The Nutcracker, and local favorite, New Moves.

MORE ABOUT THE SEASON

Read more about the season in The Kansas City Star

SUBSCRIPTION INFO

Order online or call the Box Office at 816.931.8993, Monday – Friday, 9am to 5pm to purchase new subscriptions or to renew your current subscription.

 

2018 YAGP Results for KCBS

2018 YAGP: KCBS students and Racheal Nye prepare for their pieces.
2018 YAGP: KCBS students and Racheal Nye prepare for their pieces.

This past weekend (March 1-4, 2018) Kansas City’s Folly Theater was teeming with tutus. It was the first time Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) had held a Regional Semi-Final in Kansas City. It appears to be a success.

More than 300 students from all over the city, region and country competed.

Just how did KCBS stack up against the competition? Pretty well.

KCBS HONORS

2018 YAGP: KCBS students on stage.
2018 YAGP: KCBS students on stage.

For the second year in a row, KCBS received the “Outstanding School Award”. Last year it was at the competition in Indianapolis. “It felt good to get it here at home. There were several schools in the running, so it wasn’t something we expected to get but we are thrilled and honored,” Holmes said.

Also of special note, Kansas City Ballet School student, Aurora Wessel (11), won the “Hope Award”. This is an award that YAGP doesn’t always give out. It is intended as a special honor for the student who exceeds in both contemporary and classical competition. It’s more prestigious than simply winning first place. Aurora placed in the Top 12 for both Contemporary and Classical dance categories in the Pre-Competitive Age Division.

The overall number of pieces performed by category by all participating schools: Pre-competitive Category (66 pieces), Junior Category (196 pieces), Pas de Deux (14 pieces; 7 were from KCBS), Ensembles (30 pieces), Senior Classical (122 pieces) and Senior Contemporary (76 pieces).

KC SHINES

“Many of the visiting schools and the judges were pleasantly surprised at how wonderful Kansas City is and how well the arts are supported here,” Kansas City Ballet School Director Grace Holmes said. “I was surprised at how many schools locally and regionally came to KC to participate.”

It’s no secret that Kansas City is conveniently situated in the heart of the country making it an easy drive from many states or a great place for air travel. And as a new YAGP venue, there was a lot of excitement specifically because of the “unknowns”. A little unpredictability can have advantages, so in this competition it’s not a bad thing to compete in a new location.

2018 YAGP: KCBS students prepare for their pieces.
2018 YAGP: KCBS students prepare for their pieces.

Kansas City Ballet School students really made an impression according to KCBS YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye, “I received such positive feedback from other schools’ students and parents about the kindness of our KCBS students towards others, and that is something I’m incredibly proud of. Our kids were wonderful ambassadors for our school.”

APPRECIATION

“I am so happy with the work that all of our coaches and teachers put into preparations for this competition. At first I was not sure about having our students participate in a competition. But Racheal changed my mind about that when she brought a small group to YAGP two years ago. The reason we now do YAGP is because of Racheal. She had the vision that in participating in YAGP, our students could expand their already intense dance education by working through the process of learning, refining and performing these solos. And on top of coaching, she single-handedly did all the administration and scheduling, not to mention costumes, makeup demonstrations and took care of so many other details,” says Holmes. Her dedication certainly paid off. See the list of KCBS accomplishments for the 2018 YAGP Regional Semi-Finals below.

Holmes would like to thank Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney and Kansas City Ballet Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley for supporting KCBS in its YAGP efforts. “It’s always a huge undertaking for the school and it puts strain on the organization to have this many kids participate. So, I appreciate them taking a leap of faith on us,” Holmes says.

FINALS IN NYC

Invitations to attend the 2018 YAGP Finals will go out soon. The Finals will be held in New York City on April 19 at Lincoln Center.

2018 YAGP, KANSAS CITY, MO, KCBS WINNERS

Special Awards

Outstanding School: Kansas City Ballet School

 

1st Place Pas de Deux Category

2nd Place Ensemble: Coda from Esmeralda (Racheal Nye)

 

Pre-Competetive Category

Hope Award: Aurora Wessel (11)

 

Pre-Competitive Contemporary

Top 12: Penelope Guezuraga (11)

 

Pre-Competitive Classical

3rd Place: Penelope Guezuraga (11)

Top 12: Kathryn Benson (11)

 

JUNIOR CATEGORY

Junior Classical Women

1st Place: Poppy Trettel (12)

3rd Place: Melody Sasser (14)

Top 12: Addison Diaz (14), Mia Porter (12)

 

Junior Classical Men

2nd Place: Grady George (13)

 

Junior Contemporary

Top 12: Poppy Trettel (12)

 

SENIOR CATEGORY

Senior Classical

Top 12: Camryn Potts (17), Grace Reed (18), Hope Wampler (16), Timothy TV Cao (15)

Senior Contemporary

Top 12: Camryn Potts (17), Mina-Vasiliya Stoyanova (17), Timothy TV Cao (15)

 

Read previous post about the 2018 YAGP competition?

https://www.kcballet.org/kc-hosts-youth-american-grand-prix/

 

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/

Dancer Profile: Sasha Chernjavsky

Originally from Rochester, NY, Sasha Chernjavsky joined the Kansas City Ballet as an apprentice this season.

Q: how did you become a dancer?

A: I was inspired by watching a friend dance.

Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES?

A: Drawing.

Q: WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT KC?

A: It’s a very quaint city and there seems to be a lot to do.

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

A: I played piano for about 10 years.