2019-20 KCB II Profile: Fiona Lee

Fiona Lee started dancing at 5 years old at a little ballet studio in rural Montana that used to be an old horse tannery. She joins KCB II.

2019-20 KCB II Profile: Fiona Lee
Fiona Lee featured in Bruce Well’s “Pinocchio” with the Pacific Northwest Ballet School Photographer: Lindsay Thomas

Q: IS THERE SOMEONE SPECIFIC THAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR LIFE AND/OR CAREER?

A: I decided I wanted to be a ballerina at age 10 when KCB Ballet Master Kristi Capps guested at my studio as “Giselle”. I had never talked to a professional ballerina before, and I was immediately enamored with her. She was just as graceful in everyday life as she was onstage! I aspired  to be both as glamorous and as generous as her one day. She helped me to realize my goals for dance. I have never looked back.

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

A: I love watercolor painting! It is such a great way for me to decompress while creating something beautiful in the process. My favorite thing to paint are ballerinas because their tulle skirts turn out beautifully using this ethereal medium. I also love to cook. I actually grew up with an industrial-sized wood-fire pizza oven in my kitchen. My dad would use it to make homemade pizzas and bread every week. I developed most of my cooking skills with his guidance. Now I enjoy hosting my own dinner parties and cooking for my friends.

Q: HOW DO YOU STAY FIT AND HEALTHY OUTSIDE OF THE STUDIO?

A: I do yoga twice a week to keep my mind and body balanced. Outside of that, I supplement with Pilates-based strength training and cardio sessions for my stamina. I also make time for hiking, swimming laps, and rock climbing because I love varying my workouts and staying active.

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT KC?

A: I’m obsessed with the Kansas City art scene. I love going to museums and galleries. The Nelson-Atkins and Kemper Art Museums are some of my favorite places.

Q: WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE 2019-20 sEASON?

A: I am super excited for The Nutcracker! Even though I have performed in some version of it nearly every year of my life, there is always a new magic whenever I come back to the ballet.

 

Top Photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Devon Carney Talks Carmina Burana

Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney discusses the Oct. 11-20, 2019 program: Carmina Burana.

Carmina Burana

Adam Hougland and I met more than 16 years ago in Cincinnati. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of his work. One of the things I really admire about him is his bold sense of adventure. In fact, Kansas City Ballet performed his Rite of Spring to close out our 2015-2016 season. His ability to tackle large works with well-known scores and make them his own is fantastic. Other major works include: Firebird, Mozart’s Requiem and a contemporary Romeo and Juliet.

devon carney talks carmina burana
Dancers Danielle Bausinger and Liang Fu with choreographer Adam Hougland. Carmina Burana rehearsals. Photo by Elizabeth Stehling.

When I asked him to consider choreographing a world premiere of Carmina Burana during his time here four years ago, he was immediately excited by the thought. Now his vision of Carmina Burana is complete!

And we get to enjoy the journey of one person’s life: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Adam’s star is on the rise as a well-known choreographer continuing to make his name in both America and Europe. That makes it an exciting moment to launch this world premiere.

Tulips and Lobster

Kansas City Ballet Dancers Kaleena Burks and James Kirby Rogers. Photographer: Mike Strong. Choreographer: Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.

And yet there is even more to enjoy on this ballet program including Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Tulips and Lobster which dazzled audiences at Johnson County Community College’s New Dance Partners performances last fall. There is a lightheartedness to her piece that allows us to sample her wit and whimsy, as she’s often known for intense works.

Recently, Annabelle earned the 2019 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award—a significant recognition in the world of dance! She’s created over 90 works for more than 50 major dance companies in just 15 years. Tremendous!

Petal

devon-carney talks carmina
Petal Choreography by Helen Pickett. Kansas City Ballet Dancers Laura Hunt, Lamin Pereira dos Santos, and Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye. Photographer Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Our final ballet on the program is back by popular demand—Helen Pickett’s color-infused Petal. Her work has such a wonderful energy to it. Audiences loved it when KCB performed it in the spring of 2016.

It’s been interesting to revisit this vibrant ballet, especially to consider how much more deeply the dancers can interpret her choreography four years later. They have only grown in intensity. So this ballet is sure to please!

Moving Into the Future

I came to a realization recently: more than half of our works this season are from the female choreographic voices, an often under represented group. We are happy to move the needle forward in supporting great female choreographers by creating unforgettable performances for you.

Please enjoy!

 

Photo of Devon Carney by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

2019-20 Dancer Profile: Taryn Meija

Dancer Taryn Mejia. Photography by Tom Styrkowiz

Independence, Mo., native, Taryn Mejia, grew up dancing on scholarship at Kansas City Ballet School. She realized at age 11 she wanted to make dance a career.

“Tulips and Lobster” will be performed Oct. 11-20, 2019. Kansas City Ballet Dancer Taryn Mejia with Company Dancers. Photographer: Mike Strong. Choreographer: Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.

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

A: I retired from ballet for six years before joining KCB in 2012. I needed a break and fresh start. So, I went to college and gave birth to my two daughters. After six years I decided to try again and have loved every second since!

Q: IS THERE SOMEONE SPECIFIC THAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR LIFE AND/OR CAREER?

A: Lisa Choules, former KCB dancer and owner of Elevé Dancewear. She forged the way for me to be able to handle single motherhood of two daughters while dancing. I watched her do it and know I can, too. She is incredibly successful and a caring friend.

Q: HOW DO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR CAREER?

A: My family is incredibly supportive. Not only are they season ticket holders but they help care for my two daughters after school and on performance weekends.

Q: WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE 2019-20 sEASON?

A: George Balanchine’s Serenade. I performed the role of “Waltz Girl” when I graduated from School of American Ballet and joined New York City Ballet. I haven’t performed the ballet since.

 

2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party

2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party
Lisa Sirridge, Chris Sirridge, Dancer Goldie Walberg, MaryBeth Hershey, Hank Hershey | Photography: Larry F. Levenson

On Sunday, August 25, 2019, Kansas City Ballet Guild hosted their Kick Off Party at Lydia’s in Kansas City Crossroads’ historic Freight House. Over 100 ballet enthusiasts and dancers mingled and enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while Guild President John Walker and Artistic Director Devon Carney spoke of the exciting new season ahead. Proceeds raised by the Kansas City Ballet Guild help support the company’s repertory, its engagement and educational programs, as well as the Kansas City Ballet Archives.

MORE EVENT PHOTOS

2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party
Dancer Priyana Acharya, John Walker (Guild President), Dancer Jessica Ousterhout | Photography: Larry F. Levenson
2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party
Dancer Emma Pennell, Dancer Georgia Fuller, Ball Chairman Peggy Beal, Andy Beal | Photography: Larry F. Levenson
2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party
Megan Bubb, Susan Bubb, Jeffrey J. Bentley, Carrie Kruse | Photography: Larry F. Levenson
2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party
Cyndi James (Kick Off Party Chair), Jo Anne Dondlinger | Photography: Larry F. Levenson
2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party
Angelo Brisimitzakis, Dancer Zachary Boresow, Dancer Dillion Malinski, Joan Brisimitzakis | Photography: Larry F. Levenson
2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party
Sabrina Lee, Francie Mayer, Dancer Fiona Lee, Juliette Singer, Ian Spinks | Photography: Larry F. Levenson
2019-20 Guild Kick Off Party
Loren Ruud, Christopher Ruud, Pam Carney | Photography: Larry F. Levenson