Remembering Deena Budd

“Gala Performance”, choreographed by Anthony Tudor and performed in 1993. Kansas City Ballet Dancers: Deena Budd & Robert Skaft

Kansas City Ballet mourns the passing of former company dancer, Deena (Budd) Haws. Deena danced with Kansas City Ballet for 13 years (1983-1996). She passed away on June 14, 2019 in North Carolina.

Deena’s beautiful smile and infectious laugh endeared her to so many. Her dedication to ballet was apparent. Former Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Todd Bolender often cast Deena in jumping or comedic roles. She had a lot of energy and a great sense of humor. She was so strong and her fast footwork, soaring jumps, and incredibly fast turns, kept audiences fully engaged.

Deena also was known for her practical jokes both inside and outside of the studio.

George Balanchine’s “A La Francaix” from 1991. Kansas City Ballet Dancers: Deena Budd & Sean Duus. Photo by Don Middleton.


“She was a prankster,” fellow company dancer Sean Duus recalled. “I remember one bus tour she hid an alarm clock in someone’s bag set to go off at 2:30 a.m. Once it did, it took forever to find it. In retaliation, the next night while she was performing the other dancers all got her suitcase and sewed all the arms and legs of her regular clothes shut. She took it all in stride.”

“Everyone loved Deena. She was so warm and friendly,” Sean went on to say. “On my first day with the company, I walked into the studio to take class. Every time I tried to take a place at the barre someone would tell me it belonged to someone else. It was very territorial. But when I looked at Deena, she smiled and told me to take the place next to her. I will never forget that, her kindness.”


Paula Weber’s “Carmina Burana” from 1996. Kansas City Ballet Dancer: Deena Budd.

Former company dancer Kim Cowen remembers, “I grew up watching her dance. She was incredibly strong but looked so effortless. She was super, super light on her feet with amazing jumps. It was like she had springs in her feet, but I never heard her land. She was like a cat that way. She also had really graceful port de bras. Everything just looked effortless. And she was always smiling. Her feet were so strong and she had so much control of every step.”

Chief Operating Officer Kevin Amey, who was the company tour manager in those days, remembers Deena, “She could turn like a top. Deena danced in Alvin Ailey’s The River. She danced the section called “Vortex” and it seemed like she could spin forever.”


Her best friend for over 30 years and former company dancer Susan (Lewis) Sands said, “Of course we danced together, but we were also roommates for four years until we each got married two weeks apart from one another in the summer of 1990.”

Deena married Fred Haws of Raytown, Mo. After she retired, she taught full time at Kansas City Ballet and she would travel to Colorado in the summers when the Summer Intensive program was held at Crested Butte in the late 90s. In 1998, she and Fred moved to Atlanta where Deena taught at Atlanta Ballet School before eventually moving to North Carolina.

She left a lasting mark on Kansas City audiences, staff and fellow dancers.

If you’d like to leave a memory or comment, please do so here. They will be shared with her family.


For more about Deena, please read her obituary.


Todd Bolender with Deena Budd during a Nutcracker rehearsal in St. Louis (1996). Photo by Kevin Manning, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Balanchine’s “Serenade” from 1993. Kansas City Ballet Dancers: Deena Budd & Edward Augustyn
Todd Bolender’s “An American in Paris” from 1987. Kansas City Ballet Dancers: Deena Budd & Brian Staihr
“Celebration” by Zachary Solov in 1992. Kansas City Ballet Dancers: David Scamardo & Deena Budd

Special KCPT Documentary to Air

The Documentary

Me, Dorothy…and This Road to Oz is an unprecedented immersive trip down the yellow brick road with the Kansas City Ballet as the cast and crew prepare for the world premiere of Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz. Audiences will follow composers, choreographers, costume builders, set designers and dancers from first read through the final bow and beyond using multi-platform and multi-media storytelling that will engage and enthrall people of all ages.

Kansas City PBS had unfettered access to show the process of creating a brand new ballet from a timeless classic, as well as to celebrate an iconic Kansas City arts organization commemorating 60 years of excellence. The Wizard of Oz premiered October 12 and closed October 21, 2018 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.


See the documentary this Friday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. or midnight on KCPT. (It will be simulcast at 8 p.m. on KCPT’s Facebook page.) It airs again on KCPT Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1 and 4 p.m. KCPT2 will air it on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 and 11 p.m. or Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. After this weekend, stream it for free at under the menu tab ‘LOCAL SHOWS’.

Learn more:

Watch interviews with the major players involved in creating this new ballet here.

Find more from KCPT on their Twitter handle #MeDorothyDoc.


Photos courtesy of KCPT and FlatLand.

Beauty Shines in Hawaii

Devon Carney's The Sleeping Beauty cast performed at Ballet Hawaii Aug. 3-5. Photography by The Smoking Carmera, Joe Marquez
Devon Carney’s The Sleeping Beauty cast presented by Ballet Hawaii Aug. 3-5. Photography by The Smoking Camera, Joe Marquez

Ballet Hawaii, along with special guest dancers, performed Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney‘s The Sleeping Beauty Aug. 3-5, 2018 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in downtown HonoluluThe performances followed three weeks of rehearsals.

“Everyone did so wonderfully and all the Ballet Hawaii young dancers really stepped up! The audiences loved all the performances,” Carney said. “We all had a great time!”

Devon Carney's The Sleeping Beauty cast member Danielle Bausinger (KCB Dancer) performed at Ballet Hawaii Aug. 3-5. Photography by The Smoking Carmera, Joe Marquez
Devon Carney’s The Sleeping Beauty cast member Danielle Bausinger (KCB Dancer) performed with Ballet Hawaii Aug. 3-5. Photography by The Smoking Camera, Joe Marquez


In addition to Mr. Carney, nine Kansas City Ballet Company members joined him on the endeavor including: Liang Fu, Amaya Rodriguez, Danielle Bausinger, Humberto Rivera Blanco, James Kirby Rogers, Cameron Thomas, Kevin Wilson, Joshua Bodden, and Gavin Abercrombie. Others from Kansas City Ballet included: Kristi Capps, who served as Ballet Master; Kansas City Ballet School Faculty members Dmitry Trubchanov and Pamela Carney, who played the roles of King and Queen; and Victoria Frank, who served as stage manager. Additional special guest dancers were from Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Eugene Ballet, the Ballet Hawaii dancers and more.

2018-2019 Season Announced!


Our 2018-2019 Season opens with the much anticipated WORLD PREMIERE of Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz, continues with the KANSAS CITY PREMIERE of Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camelliasand closes with a contemporary, tour-de-force line-up with three celebrated American choreographers in Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, William Forsythe’s high-voltage thrill ride, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevatedand a World Premiere by David Parsons.



The season also includes the annual return of the nationally-recognized, The Nutcracker, and local favorite, New Moves.


Read more about the season in The Kansas City Star


Order online or call the Box Office at 816.931.8993, Monday – Friday, 9am to 5pm to purchase new subscriptions or to renew your current subscription.


Happy Halloween!

While spooky may not be your first thought when you think of ballet, Kansas City Ballet has had its share of creatures of the night… Take a quick trip down memory lane and have yourself a very happy Halloween!

Wicked Fairies

KCB Dancer Danielle Bausinger as evil fairy Carabosse in "The Sleeping Beauty." Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
KCB Dancer Danielle Bausinger evil fairy Carabosse in “The Sleeping Beauty.” Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Sad Ghost Girls

KCB Dancer Molly Wagner dances the role of "Giselle"—a girl who dies of a broken heart and becomes a ghost. Photography by Steve Wilson.
KCB Dancer Molly Wagner danced the role of “Giselle”—a girl who dies of a broken heart and becomes a ghost. Photography by Steve Wilson.


KCB Dancer Michael Eaton in Yuri Possokhov's "Firebird" in February 2009. Photography by Steve Wilson.
KCB Dancer Michael Eaton leads a band of scary skeletons in Yuri Possokhov’s “Firebird”. Photography by Steve Wilson.

And, of course, Dracula himself.

KCB Dancers Logan Pachciarz and Michael Davis. Pachciarz danced the role of "Dracula" in the ballet by the same name. Photography by Steve Wilson.
KCB Dancers Logan Pachciarz and Michael Davis share some frightful moments in “Dracula.” Pachciarz danced the role of “Dracula”. Photography by Steve Wilson.

Kansas City Ballet Reveals New Website Design

New Header Design for Desktop

In response to the growing trend of using mobile devices to browse the web and shop online, Kansas City Ballet recently revealed a new website design with the newest technology especially for viewing on smartphones and tablets.

The year 2017 marks the first in which mobile viewing exceeded desktop visits on the Ballet’s page. In fact, there have been more than 163,000 mobile visits in the last year, compared to 130,000 on desktop computers.

Mobile sales still only account for about 13% of all online sales, but with the increase of mobile users we expect that number to  increase dramatically in the next few years, making it more and more important that the site be easy to navigate to learn about our productions and easily purchase tickets.


The new design allows for increased features on the site like using more videos to bring dance to the forefront of the experience, especially when viewed on a desktop. It also does a better job of providing visitors a closer, more enhanced view of the breadth of work the organization does.

“It’s important to keep up with technological trends and we are excited about how these changes will help our patrons have a more enjoyable online experience,” says David Anderson, director of marketing for Kansas City Ballet. “And, there couldn’t be a better time than now to launch a new site as the Ballet celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season.”


Menu drop down view on mobile

The new design also helps highlight all of Kansas City Ballet’s programs, especially with improved menu navigations.

Located on the top right-hand side of the page, the enhanced menu highlights all important aspects of the company from upcoming performances and events, company dancer bios, information about Academy and Studio dance classes, community engagement and education offerings, planning your visit to the Kauffman Center from parking to dining, donation information to support the Ballet’s mission and more.

As you scroll down, the page highlights and special announcements are more prominent, along with a live, real-time feed of recent photos and videos.

Live feed as it appears on the site


And finally, in honor of Kansas City Ballet’s 60 years of dance, there is also a link to a new historical timeline.

“We hope our fans will agree, there is a lot to like about this new site,” says Anderson.

Dancer Spotlight: Lamin Pereira dos Santos


Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

This is Lamin Pereira dos Santos’s first season with Kansas City Ballet. He is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and began dancing at the age of 10. Lamin’s most recent role with Kansas City Ballet was Albrecht in our March production of Giselle. Read below to learn more about Lamin!


Q: What was it like getting to dance such a prominent lead role in Giselle such as Albrecht?

A: Performing the role of Albrecht gives me a huge feeling of accomplishment and it’s really a dream come true to be able to perform such a big role, especially after so many years of dedication, hard work and passion. The moment I had on stage was truly precious and an unforgettable experience!

Dancers Tempe Ostergren and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Steve Wilson.

Q: What is your favorite moment to perform in Giselle?

A: I love the Mad Scene in the 1st act and there are so many moments in the 2nd act that I really love too, especially when Albrecht first arrives to Giselle’s grave, and from the pas de deux until the end of the ballet when Albrecht is devastated.

Dancers Lamina Pereira dos Santos and Tempe Ostergren. Photography by Steve Wilson.

Q: What were you feeling as you were getting ready to perform Giselle for the first time in front of an audience?

A: I was actually very nervous when I was getting ready in my dressing room because it was my first time performing this ballet, and there is a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. My biggest concern was if I was going to tell the story of Giselle clearly enough for the audience to understand. The technical part in the second act also had me a little worried, it’s very hard! But once I stepped on stage, all of my concerns and doubts were gone and I had a fantastic time. I was really relaxed during the performance.

Dancers Tempe Ostergren and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Steve Wilson.

Q: How did you first get involved in ballet?

A: In Brazil, for students of the public schools, the government had extra activities such as judô, painting, dance, gymnastics, and soccer.

I was the kid involved in soccer, basketball and judô, nothing related to dance. My little sister was the one taking dance classes. One day when I was about 10 years old, her dance teacher asked me to join the class to help my sister with rolling on the floor and doing cartwheels, so I said yes, why not?

After six months my teacher Denise Sá took us to a professional ballet school called Centro de Dança Rio to apply for a scholarship. I did the exam but the director could only offer me a full scholarship if I took ballet class. She took me to watch a professional class and introduced me to Thiago Soares (principal of Royal Ballet) and the ballet master Maria Angelica Fiorani, and that’s when I decided that I wanted to dance ballet.

Dancer Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Steve Wilson.

Q: Was the professional ballet school you attended an after school activity growing up?

A: It was an after school activity but it was also a professional ballet school where I learned different styles of dance, and there were exams to move from one level to another. The main objective was to prepare dancers for corp de ballet. It was a private school. For me it didn’t feel like it was an extra activity growing up because at that point I wasn’t doing it just for fun or to pass the time. I knew that dancing was what I wanted to do and I wanted to become a professional.

Q: Were your parents easily convinced to let you enroll in all of these new dance classes?

A: My mom was the one taking me and my siblings to dance at first, then my dad joined her and they never said no or criticized our choices. Eventually my parents were always at ballet competitions watching me, or traveling to another place for competitions. They also came every time to my open classes for parents to watch. They always gave me support!

Q: What motivated you to decide to audition for companies in the US? 

A: I was always very focused on my goals and never really cared about anything else but ballet, which was my dream. I competed throughout the years and in 2007 I was competing at Youth America Grand Prix Semi Finals in Brazil and received 2nd place and a spot to compete in the final round in NYC in April of 2008.

Once in NYC I knew there were going to be a lot of amazing dancers, so I tried to focus on myself and show the best of me. At that time my biggest wish was that a director from a big school or company would see me and offer me something; either a contract or a scholarship.

I made it to the final round in NYC and was awarded a full scholarship to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre! I was extremely happy and I could not wait for that opportunity. I moved to NYC in August of 2008.

Giselle – Hauntingly Beautiful

This past weekend, Artistic Director Devon Carney’s production of Giselle opened at the Kauffman Center! We want to congratulate our dancers, production team and staff on a fantastic job making this beautiful production come to life.

Below you can view a short video featuring highlights from this past weekend’s shows.

Click here to read the Kansas City Star’s review of Giselle.

There are still three performances left – March 20-22! Get your tickets online at or 816.931.8993.

Dancer Spotlight: Yoshiya Sakurai

Yoshiya Sakurai just finished his fourth season with Kansas City Ballet. He is originally from Niigata City in Japan and has been dancing since the age of three. He has received numerous awards throughout his career and trained at many prestigious facilities around the US and Canada. Yoshiya’s most recent role with Kansas City Ballet was the Jester in our May production of Cinderella. Read below to learn more about Yoshiya.

Q: How did you get involved in dance?
A: I started ballet because my mom was a ballet dancer and teacher. I started dancing with her at the age of three. 

Q: How did you end up in the United States?
A: When I was 14 I attended Canada’s National Ballet School for four years. After I graduated, I landed my first job in New Jersey at American Repertory Ballet

Q: Are there any cultural differences between dancing in the US and Japan?
A: In Japan, dancing is not really a full-time job, and many dancers work other jobs. In the US, dancing full-time has many benefits and you work for a longer period of time throughout the year.

Q: What do you do when you’re not dancing?
A: I like to hang out with friends, play video games, and watch movies.

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I get coffee at Parisi in Union Station almost every morning before work!

Q:  What are you most looking forward to next season?
A: I am excited to be a part of our Artistic Director, Devon Carney’s first season (that he has chosen the programming). I look forward to seeing how our company grows. 

Q: What is the biggest difference between living in the US and Japan?
A: I think that would have to be the food in Japan – I miss it!

Q: What would you like to do in the future?
A: It would be great to help train a younger dancer that desires to become a professional!