Trainee Profile: Madeline Wittmann

KCB Trainee Madeline Wittmann. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
KCB Trainee Madeline Wittmann. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Originally from Little Silver, N.J., Madeline Wittmann joined Kansas City Ballet as a Trainee for the 2017-2018 season. 

Q: how did you become a dancer?

A: I started when I was 6 years old. My best friend from childhood was going, so I wanted to go, too. Ever since my first class, I have been in love with dancing.

Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES OR SPECIAL INTERESTS?

A: I live on the beach in New Jersey. During the summer I enjoy surfing and stand-up paddling. I love any opportunity to be outdoors, immersed in nature. I always feel refreshed and recharged. It’s very calming and fun.

Q: WHAT MAKES UP YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: I try to take really good care of my body because it is my instrument. I listen to it. Everything in moderation and making sure I take time for myself everyday. I love to do gyrotonics, Pilates, yoga and go to the gym to keep strong.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA OR AFFIRMATION THAT YOU SWEAR BY?

A: Yes. One of my mentors from UNCSA, Helen Pickett, told me to stay in the present moment. The future and past have far less power. The only real life is the present. I am the most present when I am onstage.

Event Recap: KC Youth Ballet’s Spring Performances March 9-11

Oblivion’s Ink choreographed by David Justin, Professor of Dance at UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Oblivion’s Ink choreographed by David Justin, Professor of Dance at UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

“When putting together our programs, I like to give the dancers multiple styles to work on. I feel this gives them a chance to step outside their comfort zone and discover something new,” Kansas City Youth Ballet Director Kimberly Cowen said. “In many cases the dancers find they really excel at some of these other styles. This builds their confidence and nurtures their artistic side.”

On March 9-11, Kansas City Youth Ballet performed their Spring Show titled Raymonda. The program opened with Oblivion’s Ink, created by David Justin, dance professor from UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Followed by Plunk, the work by Paula Weber, the chair of dance from UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Former Kansas City Ballet company member Logan Pachciarz’s piece, An Agreeable Harmony and Kansas City Ballet School Faculty member Liz Trevino’s Boiling Point were next. Then Alexander Glazunov’s classic, Raymonda, capped off the evening.

In all, there were 31 KCYB members this season, six of them boys. Nine members will graduate this year.

“These dancers never cease to amaze me,” Cowen said. “We have eight weeks to put our show together and the majority of the works on the program are rehearsed once a week. That gives them 16 hours to prepare for each piece, the equivalent to two days of work for a professional dancer. Their dedication and determination is an absolute joy to be around.”

More Photos

Plunk choreographed by Paula Weber the Chair of Dance at UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Plunk choreographed by Paula Weber the Chair of Dance at UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
 Iyonna Barris in An Agreeable Harmony choreographed by former KCB dancer Logan Pachciarz. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios
Iyonna Barris in An Agreeable Harmony choreographed by former KCB dancer Logan Pachciarz. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios
Mina-Vasiliya Stoyanova with seniors Layne Stowers, Rachel Colligan, Julia Parkerson and Grace Reed in Raymonda. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Mina-Vasiliya Stoyanova with seniors Layne Stowers, Rachel Colligan, Julia Parkerson and Grace Reed in Raymonda. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Senior Jeremy Hanson as Jean de Brienne in Raymonda. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Senior Jeremy Hanson as Jean de Brienne in Raymonda. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Behind the Scenes: Peter Pan

Kansas City Ballet Dancers Amanda DeVenuta and Kevin Wilson in Peter Pan rehearsals. Choreography by Devon Carney. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Amanda DeVenuta and Kevin Wilson in Peter Pan rehearsals. Choreography by Devon Carney. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

Kansas City Ballet closes their 60th Anniversary Season with Peter Pan at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts May 11-20, 2018. Artistic Director Devon Carney is putting the finishing touches on his world premiere choreography. Enjoy a few photos from a recent rehearsal.

Tickets are still available here.

More Rehearsal Photos

Kansas City Ballet Dancers Kevin Wilson, and KCB II Dancers Angelin Carrant, and Gavin Abercrombie in Peter Pan rehearsals. Choreography by Devon Carney. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Kevin Wilson, and KCB II Dancers Angelin Carrant, and Gavin Abercrombie in Peter Pan rehearsals. Choreography by Devon Carney. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Amanda DeVenuta and Kevin Wilson in Peter Pan rehearsals. Choreography by Devon Carney. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Amanda DeVenuta and Kevin Wilson in Peter Pan rehearsals. Choreography by Devon Carney. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

Sponsor Profile: Performance Rehab

Dancer: Taryn Mejia. Photographer: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios
Dancer: Taryn Mejia. Photographer: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Injuries are the yin to the yang of incredible dance. Prevention is key.

 Kansas City Ballet Dancer Taryn Mejia believes, “The most important part of physical therapy for me is quick treatment of minor injuries, aches and pains. These small ailments, more likely than not, become much larger injuries if left untreated. Dancers are so aware of their bodies that we notice immediately when something is wrong.”

 She’s not alone.

 Since August of 2017, Performance Rehab has had their team working to keep Kansas City Ballet Dancers rehearsing and performing. Performance Rehab is a valued Kansas City Ballet Business Council company and is The Official Physical Rehabilitation Provider to Kansas City Ballet.

Kendra Gage from Performance Rehab
Kendra Gage from Performance Rehab

The Performance Rehab Team

Lead therapist Kendra Gage grew up dancing and studied it in college. And though she never danced professionally she has a love for the art and knowledge of dance language. Her undergrad is from KU. Liz Trevino teaches Pilates and wellness and dance technique enhancement at Performance Rehab and is also a member of the faculty in Kansas City Ballet’s Studio program. Anjali Tata-Hudson is a physical therapist assistant with an extensive dance background and a masters in dance. And Kelly Meiners is a contract therapist. She has worked with KCB in the past and also is with Rockhurst’s PT department.

 “Physical Therapy for dancers is unique because most dancers must continue to be physically active while they have an injury,” says Gage. “Dancers can’t always stop the painful or aggravating activity. So, we establish an individual treatment plan and provide them instructions for dancing, even while injured.”

What Performance Rehab Provides

Here are some types of help Performance Rehab provides: advice to change their warm-up routine or instructing dancers on strategic use of ice or heat, or even giving them certain exercises to do outside of the studio. There are a lot of educational tips and manual techniques the therapists provide that can help dancers while they heal.

Performance Rehab therapists are available for triage or maintenance-type work on both new and existing ailments on rehearsal days during the dancers’ lunch hour, backstage at performances and on Mondays when the dancers are off. Gage says they will see five to six dancers on an average lunch break and they see several on Mondays and are busy backstage the whole show.

The Results

According to Mejia, “Performance rehab has been game changing for this company. The daily accessibility and knowledgeable therapists can diagnose and treat us quickly. Allowing us to dance our best.” 

“It’s really fun to see a dancer overcome an injury to put something on stage for the city to enjoy,” Gage says. “We are proud and honored to be able to help facilitate amazing ballet.”

Trainee Profile: Tyler Ferraro

KCB Trainee Tyler Ferraro. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
KCB Trainee Tyler Ferraro. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Originally from Huntington Beach, Calif., Tyler Ferraro joined Kansas City Ballet as a Trainee for the 2017-2018 season. 

Q: how did you become a dancer?

A: I became interested in dance after taking a musical theater class. So, I started taking dance classes when I was 10 and soon focused on classical ballet.

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

A: I have always enjoyed the combination of structure and creativity in dance. There are rules in technique that appeal to my methodical side but it is also important to express myself and make movements my own.

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

A: When I was younger, I spent a lot of time snowboarding and surfing.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA OR AFFIRMATION THAT YOU SWEAR BY?

A: You are enough.

Event Recap: Celebrate 60

Kansas City Ballet School Academy students
Kansas City Ballet School Academy students

Kansas City Ballet’s Celebrate 60 event was on Sunday, April 8, 2018 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and honored the people of Kansas City Ballet’s past and present. Former and current dancers talked about each era of Kansas City Ballet: Michele Hamlet-Weith for founder, Tatiana Dokoudovska; Kimberly Cowen for Todd Bolender; Logan Pachciarz for William Whitener; and Tempe Ostergren for Devon Carney. In addition, Jeffrey J. Bentley thanked Muriel McBrien Kauffman and Julia Irene Kauffman for their steadfast commitment to Kansas City Ballet and the performing arts in our community. The formal presentation ended with a mini-performance by Kansas City Ballet School Academy students. The night continued in Brandmeyer Hall with champagne and desserts to celebrate the dedicated artists, staff, volunteers, patrons, donors, students, parents, and audiences for all that they do to support & create excellent performing arts in Kansas City! Links to videos about the four eras of Kansas City Ballet are at the end of this post.

Photos from the Celebration

Photography: Larry F. Levenson

Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley, KCB Board Chairman Julia Irene Kauffman, Artistic Director Devon Carney, KCB Board President Kathy Stepp, (front row) Michele Hamlet-Weith, Tempe Ostergren, Kimberly Cowen, Barbara Storm, Logan Pachciarz
Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley, KCB Board Chairman Julia Irene Kauffman, Artistic Director Devon Carney, KCB Board President Kathy Stepp, (front row) Michele Hamlet-Weith, Tempe Ostergren, Kimberly Cowen, Barbara Storm, Logan Pachciarz
Dave Lady, Julia Irene Kauffman, Sharon Smith, Barnett and Shirley Helzberg
Dave Lady, Julia Irene Kauffman, Sharon Smith, Barnett and Shirley Helzberg
Vicki Baxter, William Whitener, Christopher Barksdale
Vicki Baxter, William Whitener, Christopher Barksdale
Mark Sappington and David McGee, Aisling Hill-Connor and guest, Lisa Choules and John May, Matthew Donnell
Mark Sappington and David McGee, Aisling Hill-Connor and guest, Lisa Choules and John May, Matthew Donnell
Barbara Spilker and Siobhan Lesley
Barbara Spilker and Siobhan Lesley
Christine Colby-Jacques, Melissa Ford
Christine Colby-Jacques, Melissa Ford
Terry and Peggy Dunn, Dick and SueAnn Fagerberg, Jeffrey J. Bentley, Greg and Celebrate 60 Chairman Barbara Storm, Fred and Sandy Jackson, Melinda Petet, Devon Carney
Terry and Peggy Dunn, Dick and SueAnn Fagerberg, Jeffrey J. Bentley, Greg and Celebrate 60 Chairman Barbara Storm, Fred and Sandy Jackson, Melinda Petet, Devon Carney

Videos: The Four Eras

Event Recap: BARRE Afterhours

Barre Afterhours at BBBS on April 14, 2018. Photo by Karen Badgett.
Barre Afterhours at BBBS on April 14, 2018. Photo by Karen Badgett.

Following Kansas City Ballet’s The Man in Black program at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, more than 75 people attended the BARRE Afterhours at Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Dancers from Kansas City Ballet also attended. Guests enjoyed delicious pasta from Lidia’s Kansas City and fabulous beer from KC Bier Co. A special thank you goes out to each of the sponsors:

          

We’re currently looking for new BARRE KC Board Members to serve for the 2018-2019 season. Please click here to apply online.

 

PARTY PICS

Second Company Members attending BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
Second Company Members attending BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.
BARRE Afterhours at BBBS. Photo by Karen Badgett.

 

Trainee Profile: Madison Mackenzy Braaksma

KCB Trainee Madison Braaksma. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
KCB Trainee Madison Braaksma. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Originally from Atlanta, Madison Mackenzy Braaksma 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: Well, when I was little my mom put me into creative movement class. When I was 7, I got involved with Irish dance. I began competing and got very serious. At 13, I started to take private ballet lessons to help strengthen my Irish dancing and fell in love with ballet.

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

A: Performance! Definitely being on the stage and performing in front of people is what I enjoy most.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE WHAT MAKES UP YOUR DIET AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: I cross train in the mornings before going to rehearsal. As far as diet, I eat low carb, low dairy, lots of fruits, and lots of veggies. But I do have a sweet tooth.

2018 Ballet Ball Chair Announced

Chairman Gigi Rose and Gary Rose. Photographer Larry F. Levenson
Chairman Gigi Rose and Gary Rose. Photographer Larry F. Levenson

Kansas City Ballet Guild will hold its annual gala on October 6th at the InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza. Gigi Rose is serving as chair of the event that will kick off the Kansas City Ballet season. The theme, “The Emerald City Ball”, will commemorate the Ballet’s world premiere The Wizard of Oz which opens October 12th.

The recipient of the Guild’s Pirouette Award will be announced at the Ball.  This award is presented annually to an individual whose extraordinary volunteer efforts have benefited the Kansas City Ballet and the performing arts community.

Proceeds from the gala support the Kansas City Ballet and Kansas City Ballet School.

Underwriters and Benefactors

With gratitude for your support, Emerald City Ball Underwriters and Benefactors will enjoy a splendid pre-dinner reception in the InterContinental’s rooftop ballroom prior to entering the Emerald City.

Additionally, sponsors at the Table Host level and above on Tuesday, October 16 will experience an evening of dinner, music and dance among the never-before-seen sets of The Wizard of Oz on the stage of the Muriel Kauffman Theatre at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Learn more about becoming an underwriter or benefactor of the Ballet Ball here. Single tickets will go on sale in August 2018.

Dancer Profile: Charles Martin

Charles Martin joined Kansas City Ballet in 2007 just in time to celebrate Kansas City Ballet’s 50th Anniversary. He’s now in his 11th season with the company.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: My mom owned a dance studio and I was always there dancing around, so I started classes at age 3.

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

A: Getting to express things that words can not.

Dancer: Charles Martin. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Dancer: Charles Martin. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Q: DO YOU HAVE HOBBIES OR SPECIAL INTERESTS?

A: I love doing hair and makeup!

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA?

A: Work hard, even when it’s hard work.

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

A: Meditating, stretching or taking a nap.