Sidney Haefs, a Santa Clarita, Calif. native, started as a Trainee in 2018-19 and was invited to become an apprentice with Kansas City Ballet this season.
Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCER.
A: I started dancing at the age of 3 1/2. My mother danced growing up and she always loved it so she enrolled me in ballet classes to see if I would enjoy it. I honestly did not like it very much at first! I think because I was a talkative child and this would get me into trouble during class! However, I really started to enjoy it as I kept up with it and from there I fell in love. It gave me confidence and pushed me to work hard to achieve my goals. I became a dancer because it was a language that spoke to me.
Q: IS THERE SOMEONE SPECIFIC THAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR LIFE AND/OR CAREER?
A: I find inspiration more from the dancers I work with rather than just one specific person. Being able to watch these artists push their boundaries and strive to grow as movers and story tellers is a
beautiful thing to be able to experience. Each and every dancer in this company is unique and brings something different to the table and I think that in itself inspires everyone to work and grow not only as artists but as human beings.
Q: WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE 2019-20 KCB SEASON?
A: Everything! This season’s repertoire is very exciting. There is a mix of contemporary, classical, and neoclassical works. It is amazing to see the company pushed in so many different ways. As dancers, I believe we all love a challenge and this is a season that allows everyone to push their boundaries not only physically but artistically.
Q: HOW DO YOU STAY FIT AND HEALTHY OUTSIDE OF THE STUDIO?
A: I try and incorporate Pilates as well as some weight training and cardio outside of our regular dance day. As ballet dancers, our bodies are expected to do a lot that isn’t always natural. Cross training allows us to work our muscles in a different way in order to help us stay strong. It allows us to keep our bodies balanced and not overwork our muscles in just one kind of way.
Since Kansas City Ballet debuted Devon Carney’s new Nutcracker production in 2015, more than 15,400 school children and teachers have attended the production. In 2019, that number will increase by 4,836.
Why would a company put on a production that only receives $12 per seat? Simple. Educating the next generation is important. Ask many KC natives and you may be surprised at how many remember attending The Nutcracker as a kid. For many, these field trips are their first experience with the art form of ballet.
HOW POWERFUL CAN THESE EXPERIENCES BE FOR A CHILD?
Company dancer Joshua Bodden knows all too well. As a 10-year-old boy in Florida, attending a field trip matinee of The Nutcracker opened him up to future career aspirations. That afternoon when he returned home, he contacted the Miami School of Ballet himself to inquire about taking ballet classes. He’d found their information in the program he’d received. He was accepted on full-scholarship.
All these years later, he’s here dancing in more performances of the production than he could have ever thought imaginable. As a professional dancer he has danced with Miami City Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Cincinnati Ballet—all before joining Kansas City Ballet where he’s been a member of the company for the past six seasons.
It’s true that most children will not be inspired to become professional dancers, but exposing them to the arts still can be a pivotal moment for them.
“I often wonder if the next ballet dancer or musician or choreographer is in the audience,” Joshua admits. “I hope to inspire and give that audience member the same feeling to dream and possibly hope of a life or a career in the arts.”
And if one of them feels inspired to become a dancer, as he once was, he’d encourage them to take that chance and go for it.
WHAT MATINEES ARE OFFERED?
Kansas City Ballet presents full-length morning performances for schools designed to enhance interdisciplinary learning, integrating dance with English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Music. Students will experience stunning choreography, elaborate sets, beautiful costumes, and the Kansas City Symphony!
Kansas City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is the most popular and consistent student matinee opportunity, but there have been others over the years. Most recently, The Wizard of Oz in October 2018, saw more than 1,289 students and teachers in attendance.
Still other matinees have included: New Moves (annually since 2018), Swan Lake (2015 and coming again in 2020), Romeo & Juliet (2017), The Sleeping Beauty (2017), Alice (in wonderland) (2014), Dracula (2014), Cinderella (2014), and more.
“The benefits to school children who have the opportunity to attend a live performance, such as KC Ballet’s Student Matinees, are enormous,” says April Berry Kansas City Ballet’s Director of Community Engagement and Education. “Studies have shown that there are a range of benefits from exposing a student to cultural experiences including: increasing tolerance, empathy, compassion, and the ability to understand life in another time and place. Cultural activities, such as a ballet performance, are like looking through a window into a broader world filled with different people and ideas. The effects are even stronger for disadvantaged students because it is usually their first exposure to a live performance.”
This was also true for Berry. Her first experience with ballet also was on a school field trip to the ballet. That experience truly transformed her view of the world and led her down a career path in ballet including as an Alvin Ailey principal dancer and now as a dance administrator, faculty member in the Kansas City Ballet Academy and a Kansas City Ballet teaching artist.
These shows are a labor of love. And they require support from the community.
Joshua says: “If you are thinking about supporting student matinees, please do it. For me, growing up in the inner city of Miami, ballet and the arts were not on my radar or even a thing I considered until I saw that student matinee of The Nutcracker. That was the jumping off point that really changed my life and pointed me in a direction I didn’t even know was possible for a life or career. Supporting and funding student matinees literally can be life-changing for a child. I am living proof.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BOOK TICKETS TO A STUDENT MATINEE
To learn more about Community Engagement and Education programs or to book tickets to a student matinee, please contact the Director of Community Engagement and Education April Berry at email@example.com or 816.216.5609.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SUPPORTING STUDENT MATINEES
If you are interested in supporting Kansas City Ballet’s Community Engagement and Education programs, including Student Matinees, please contact Director of Individual Giving Brent Kimmi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816.216.5608 or make a gift online.