There were 167 students who attended this year’s intensive program. Of those, only 37 are current KCBS Academy attendees, the rest were chosen through auditions that took place across the country or through video auditions. The majority of students came from outside of Kansas and Missouri, and two were from outside of the U.S. Of these one is from Japan and the other from Bulgaria.
Besides learning from an incredible list of teachers and faculty from Kansas City Ballet, others included: Sarah Lane, Alicia Graf Mack, Olivier Munoz, Larissa Ponomarenko, and Mel Tomlinson. All couldn’t be happier with the students’ eagerness to learn or their progress during the program.
“The students who attended our summer intensive this year were amazing,” said Kansas City Ballet School Director Grace Holmes. “Their level of commitment, camaraderie and artistic spirit, took our program to new levels. I am so proud of all of the students who danced with us this summer and we are grateful that they and their parents chose Kansas City Ballet School.”
Kansas City Ballet School Director Grace Holmes praises the students for their hard work at this year’s intensive. Photography: Andrea Wilson
Tanaquil Le Clercq was a principal dancer with New York City Ballet. Tanny, as she was called by friends and family, was married to George Balanchine and was once considered his muse. Over her career Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Merce Cunningham and others created a total of 32 roles just for her. Her incredible dancing career ended abruptly when she was stricken with polio in Copenhagen during the New York City Ballet company’s European tour in 1956.
A Kansas City Ballet Connection
Tanny was friends with Kansas City Ballet’s former Artistic Director Emeritus, Todd Bolender, when he was with New York City Ballet both as a dancer and as a tour manager. The two remained friends until her death in 2000. In fact just days/weeks after she was stricken with Polio, she had sent a letter to him. She had to dictate the letter to her mother, who wrote it for her, since she wasn’t able to write for herself. She later regained use of her arms and hands. This letter lives in the Kansas City Ballet archives as part of Todd Bolender’s effects. In it she shares personal details about her illness and her outlook on life.
Having never recovered the use of her legs, Tanny found other ways to share her love of ballet including teaching ballet to students using her hands and arms to demonstrate the steps. She also staged ballets for companies as well, even coming to Kansas City Ballet to teach on occasion. She also wrote books, took up photography and more.
Kansas City Ballet’s Archives host items and information that relate to Kansas City Ballet, its artistic staff, dancers, and ballet repertory. Look for other highlights from the archives on this blog.
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After Peter Pan wrapped on May 20, she was on a plane the next day to Jackson, Miss. She served as the music director for the 11th annual USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson June 10-23, 2018. This first trip was to find the music in the music library for all of the contestants.
The next day she boarded a plane bound for Massachusetts and the annual Jacob’s Pillow festival that she’s played a role in for the past 16 years. This year she helped prepare music for a world premiere ballet by Annabell Lopez Ochoa at the Opening Gala of Jacob’s Pillow on Saturday, June 16.
11th Annual USA International Ballet Competition Continued
Then she flew back to Jackson on June 19 for session 3 of the competition to rehearse the orchestra for the Awards Gala and the Encore Gala, June 22-23. All competition medalists perform their solos or pas de deux to live orchestra.
Here’s the thing, though. The medalists are chosen and the list of their performance music is given to Ms. Pansegrau around 2 or 3 a.m. Friday. That’s when the real fun begins as she must stay up all night to prepare and arrange all the music from the larger collection (97 lbs of music!) she pulled in May. Her first rehearsal with the orchestra was from 9 to 11:30 a.m., the morning of the Awards Gala. That was followed by orchestra and dancers rehearsing together from 1 to 3 p.m. A dress rehearsal came next, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., and the Gala began at 7:30 p.m. Learn even more about this challenging and brutal process in this Mississippi Today article where Ms. Pansegrau is featured.
Preparing for Kansas City Ballet’s 2018-2019 Season
Now that she’s back, she’s keeping busy working on a new set of orchestra parts for Kansas City Ballet’s February show, Lady of the Camellias.
On Aug. 6, she’ll be back in the studios playing optional company classes. The dancers will all return Aug. 20 for the season.