Devon Carney Talks Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe

Devon Carney Talks Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe
Artistic Director, Devon Carney

Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe

Any ONE of these choreographers on a program is exciting, but all three? Well, Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe together is quite something! This is such an exciting moment for the company. We are thrilled to present two of the best-known works by living choreographers William Forsythe and Twyla Tharp combined with a world premiere from David Parsons. All three are absolutely incredible and brilliant.

David Parsons, the prodigal son, came home to create his first brand new work just for us [KCB]. The program begins with his original comedy gem A Play for Love, based on renowned Shakespeare characters. David Parsons’ choreography is always inventive, exciting, off-center, vibrant, challenging, and grounded (low-weighted movement). This is no exception!

If that wasn’t enough, this is our very first time performing a Forsythe work. He’s one of the greatest living choreographers on the planet and we get to perform his most-known work. It was a chance meeting with him, that conversation, when he gave us permission to perform his signature work In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. We join top ballet companies around the world performing this work.

And, finally, I have a few words about our final piece on the program: Aerobic. Powerful. Hard. Exhilarating!

Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room is a huge finale for the season from a major choreographic legend. The Philip Glass music gets inside you until your nerve endings are on fire—in a good way. Tharp does an incredible job of weaving together classical ballet and contemporary dance, two very different dance disciplines, into a single signature energy. The last movement, when the dancers are firing on all cylinders and then some, leads up to a brilliant and spectacular conclusion.

This program is THE way to finish the year—a wonderful year of artistic growth. This program demonstrates that today’s dancers have to be able to do it all. And our KCB dancers deliver. Ballet doesn’t get much better than this.


Top photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Devon Carney Talks Lady of the Camellias

Kansas City Ballet’s Artistic Director Devon Carney shares some thoughts on the company’s upcoming performances of Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias Feb. 15-24 at the Kauffman Center.

The Choreographer

It’s a privilege for Kansas City Ballet to perform this landmark creation by the world-class choreographer Val Caniparoli—one of his signature works.

Caniparoli is no stranger to Kansas City Ballet. In February 2010, the company presented his Lambarena with its striking music, a mix of Bach and African rhythms. Then in May of 2017, our company performed his dramatic and intense ballet, The Lottery, based on Shirley Jackson’s shocking short story by the same name.

The Ballet

For Lady of the Camellias, his choreography demands a physical technicality and profound artistry from the dancers to express the breadth of emotion in this compelling story. It’s an intense artistic challenge and an opportunity for our dancers to develop true three-dimensional characters. We continue to raise the level of artistic content and thus, the quality of our artists. Building on this momentum keeps moving them forward, as we continually find productions to benefit both you, our audience, and our dancers alike.

In this particular ballet, our journey includes experiencing romantic interludes with Armand, a young countryman, and Marguerite, a famous courtesan as they become entangled in a forbidden affair. These two come from differing backgrounds and socio-economic levels, but they discover true love. At its heart, this is a story of love at its deepest and most sincere. And this strong romantic connection between these two characters makes this such a great story ballet—one that will surely endure for the ages.

Despite everything they experience, Marguerite has faith in Armand and hope for their life.
Love is indeed the greatest power one can experience in life.

Ultimately though, the forces working against them lead to heartbreak and loss. Of course, the
final scene rips your heart apart with such romance and compassion and yearning for what might have been.

Through it all, I’m reminded of this famous quote from George Sand: There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.

I couldn’t agree more.


Top photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Devon Carney Talks Nutcracker


It seems like only yesterday, we launched this amazing $2 million production of Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker. It seems like only yesterday… but it’s now been three years.

In that time, I’ve seen it nearly 75 times on stage at the Kauffman Center. Last year, in 2017, we even took it on the road to The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. where we performed multiple times to sold-out audiences.


Each year I continue to make revisions here and there, always striving to make it just right. I know perfection is impossible, but the art… the art is in the striving. I am excited at the unique opportunity to revisit, reexamine, rethink, re-envision, and renew this production for you each and every year. The magic lives in the details and each performance holds the key to discovering new heights of artistic achievement.

These beloved characters and familiar roles are treasured traditions and even fertile testing ground for identifying the next leading dancers in our company. It’s also an earned rite of passage for our student performers. It’s the chance to see the next generation stepping into the limelight in featured roles, and it’s you and your loved ones bearing witness to it all.

This show is for kids from 2 to 102—and that’s always my goal—to experience the holidays with a childlike heart and sense of wonder. My hope is you walk out of the theatre feeling lighter on your feet and bursting with holiday spirit as well.

May that spirit of the season inspire you to laugh a little louder, hug a little tighter and delight in the special moments that are so wonderful. Let us remember these festive events and give thanks for our blessings.

Happiest Holidays!

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Devon Carney Talks Oz

From Devon Carney, Artistic Director:

There are films, plays, musicals, and all methods of performing arts disciplines telling this story of The Wizard of Oz. We are bringing a magical interpretation of L. Frank Baum’s incredible tale to life in dance form.

I’m so glad so many of you will be with us to witness this production on its world premiere run, right here in KC. This project is an elaborate collaboration between three North American ballet companies, Kansas City Ballet, Colorado Ballet and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Our combined efforts gave life to this uniquely whimsical experience for audiences and dancers alike.

Kansas City Ballet is honored to first perform the highly anticipated world premiere. It took an amazingly talented team of world class designers to produce this fresh, unique interpretation of a renowned piece of literature. Giving our dancers the chance to perform roles they’ve known since childhood is a remarkable treat.

That said, I’m excited for you to meet Dorothy Gale. The Wizard of Oz is her story. She’s the pivotal character—and what a character she is! A strong young lady full of courage and gumption, she doesn’t let anyone or anything stand in her way.

Courage, compassion, wisdom. Our Dorothy has all three. In short, she’s inspiring.

Dorothy is open to adventure and to making new friends. An adventurous spirit leads one to discover a bigger, broader world. In the end, though, home is where the heart yearns to be.

We hope you enjoy this stellar production and that you feel at home with us.


Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios