2018-19 KCB II Dancer Profile: Divya Rea

Divya Rea is in her second season as a member of KCB II, part of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company.  Originally from Wheaton, Ill., Divya has enjoyed getting to know KC. When she’s not in the ballet studio, you might find her at the River Market shopping for produce or perusing art during First Fridays.

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCEr.

A: When I was three years old, my mom enrolled me in a beginner’s ballet class. I loved (and still love) the freedom of dancing. I am able to express emotions I otherwise couldn’t describe, and in the studio, I can escape my worries and focus solely on my craft.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT DANCING? 

A: When I have free time, I enjoy playing the piano, writing, or watching TV—essentially anything relaxing after a day of rehearsals! On the weekends, I enjoy walking around Kansas City. I’ve happened upon multiple festivals and fairs by simply taking a walk.

From 2017-18 as KCB II members, dancers Divya Rea and Angelin Carrant. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
From 2017-18 as KCB II members, dancers Divya Rea and Angelin Carrant. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Q: WHAT QUESTION DO YOU GET ASKED MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB AS A DANCER?

A: I often get asked how I stand on my toes, and I always say practice. Every day I work on perfecting my technique and gaining strength. Ballet is not easy, but through repetition and rehearsal it becomes easier.

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

A: Cross-training is important to me. Outside the studio, I alternate my workouts. Some days I elliptical or power walk, other days I lift weights. I incorporate Pilates to lengthen my muscles. I also cook often. I love trying new, healthy recipes.

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST LIFE ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: One of my first ballet teachers would always remind me that everything is “90% mental.” While that exact percentage may vary, this phrase has shaped my attitude in life. Before I approach a challenge, I must believe it is possible.

 

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

2018-19 KCB II Profile: Austin Meiteen

KCB II dancer and member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second CompanyAustin Meiteen is from Austin, Tex. He joined Kansas City Ballet last season as a Trainee. Depending on the cast of each show, he performs as the dancing bear, a Trepak, Mother Ginger and more during performances of The Nutcracker through Dec. 23, 2018.

Kansas City Ballet Dancers Austin Meiteen, Javier Morales, and Angelin Carrant. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Austin Meiteen, Javier Morales, and Angelin Carrant. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCEr.

A: My older sister started dance when we were younger, and for car pool reasons, it was just easiest to take me to the studio with her when she had class. They saw me dancing around the waiting room and asked if I wanted to join classes too. I haven’t stopped since.

Q: WHAT QUESTION DO YOU GET ASKED MOST ABOUT BEING A DANCER? 

A: “Can you do the splits?” And then, depending on how sore I am or what pants I’m wearing, I usually drop and show them.

Q: WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE DANCING IN PROFESSIONAL COMPANY PERFORMANCES?

A: Kind of surreal. It’s something you work for for so long, and then one day it just happens. It never feels possible to stop growing within a performance either. I want everything to be of the best of its ability for every performance, for every new crowd. Knowing now that people are paying to see me makes me want to be that much more.

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

A: My family had four dogs and two sugar gliders when I was growing up. Animals are highly valued to me.

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST LIFE ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: Never be afraid to want more.

 

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

2018-19 KCBII Dancer Profile: Wojciech Ogloza

Wojciech Ogloza is originally from Ridgefest, California. He started dancing at age 15. This is his first season dancing with KCB II, part of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company.

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCEr.

A: I started out dancing because a studio needed assistance with some performances. After I experienced life on stage, I found a love for inspiring and invoking a change of emotion from an audience. I wanted to fly and have others feel something they haven’t ever felt while watching a ballet. It’s a hard goal to see progress in, but when you do, it’s the most rewarding part of the job.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT DANCING? 

A: To be honest, what I love to do more than anything is to just get away from people. It sounds terrible but just being on a walk alone in the wilderness is amazing, or being with friends and family. We have to be around so many people on a day-to-day basis in our work environment, so getting away from it every now and again can be very pleasant. Just enjoying some good old-fashioned TLC.

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

A: I guess something that people figure out over time from me is that I come from a pretty large family. I have five blood brothers, and a bunch more we kinda took in over time. (Family friends have been with us so long they are now brothers.) In total it’s six boys from mom and dad, and a couple more adopted. Out of all of us, only two of us ever sought out to do ballet. So far it’s been quite a ride.

Q: WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A PROFESSIONAL DANCER WITH A BALLET COMPANY?

A: Being a professional dancer isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it is a lot of hard work and a lot of time, sweat and blood put into an art form. While it might seem very glamorous from an onlooking perspective, it is one of the most challenging adventures one person can embark on. In a professional environment, you’ll meet amazing people and have wonderful opportunities. The hard part about it is getting past all of the bumps in the road that come with being a dancer. We work long days all week, and you are always striving to be better in a professional environment.

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST LIFE ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: The best tips I ever got about my career would be from two teachers at PNB. Both had some pretty influential things to say. One said you need to train and work on yourself so much that you know you can sell it for what you’re worth. The other teacher told me that no matter what happens, try and carry as much positive energy with you as you can. You’ll need it for later in your career. The reason this was so influential was that it made me realize how I needed to do things instead of letting things happen on a whim.

 

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

2018-19 KCB II Dancer Profile: Samantha Huebner

Meet Kansas City Ballet KCB II Dancer, Samantha Huebner. She’s danced as a Trainee with Kansas City Ballet for two years. This year she’s moved up to KCB II.

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BeCAME A DANCEr.

A: I became a dancer at the age of 3 because my mom needed another way for me to get rid of some extra energy! But I think as I became older, I chose to continue to pursue becoming a dancer because I fell in love with the work it requires. I love the feeling when I work really hard on something and it finally pays off. And, of course, I love the feeling and fun that comes with being on stage!

Q: WHAT QUESTION DO YOU GET ASKED THE MOST AS A DANCER?

A: The question, or statement, I get most often is: “Oh, so you probably have to watch what you eat, huh?” I always laugh and say that just like any other athlete in the world, we need food to fuel our bodies so that we can work. If I didn’t eat, I couldn’t dance, let alone perform! I eat when I am hungry. If I have cravings then I guess that’s what I’m having for dinner!

New Moves 2017. Samantha Huebner is front and center. Photography by Brett Pruitt and East Market Studios.
New Moves 2017. Samantha Huebner is front and center. Photography by Brett Pruitt and East Market Studios.

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

A: I aspire to be a personal trainer when my ballet career comes to an end (hopefully far far in the future). I worked with a personal trainer this past summer and I fell in love with it all! She was so inspiring to me and I want to learn all I can from her and try to inspire others in the way she has inspired me.

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST DANCING OR LIFE ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED AND WHY?

A: Your moods are contagious. Whenever you walk through the door of the studio, you have the chance to determine how you want people to respond to you. The energy you give off, is the energy that will come back to you. Moods are contagious. Bring positive energy into a room.

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

A: Eat and sleep!! Those are so important in my eyes. If I don’t eat enough, I get really sleepy. If I don’t sleep enough, I get really irritable and cranky. I find that if I’m lacking in either one of these two things, my body starts shutting down in a way, physically and mentally as well. Of course I like to go to the gym and workout a bit but I have to eat and sleep or else I’d be a mess.

PAST PROFILE POSTS

Trainee Profile: Samantha Huebner

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

KCB II Profile: Angelin Carrant

Angelin Carrant joined the Kansas City Ballet this season as a member of KCB II, part of Kansas City Ballet’s second company. He is originally from Paris, France.

Q: how did you become a dancer?

A: My mother brought me to my first ballet class at the age of 9. She wanted all of her children to take at least one ballet class.

Q: WHAT ARE MOST PEOPLE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS A DANCER?

A: I wouldn’t say people are too surprised when I tell them I’m a dancer. They think it’s cool.

Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES?

A: I love playing the piano. I really enjoy finding pieces and being able to teach them to myself.

Q: What DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A DANCER?

A: I enjoy being able to do something that I love every day and it being my profession. Dancing on a stage is a plus as well.

KCB II Profile: Austin Meiteen

Originally from Austin, Tex., Austin Meiteen joined the Kansas City Ballet family this season first a Trainee and then was promoted to KCB II.

Q: how did you become a dancer?

A: I started dancing when I was 5 because my sister started and it was just easier to put me in classes also. I didn’t get too serious about it until I was 13.

Q: WHAT ARE MOST PEOPLE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS A DANCER?

A: They’re surprised by how many hours we work and also how flexible I am as a guy.

Q: WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT KC?

A: It reminds me a lot of my hometown, Austin. There’ s a certain vibe to it that’s very unique and home-y.

Q: What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

A: I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and an SAT score in the 95 percentile.

KCB II Profile: Divya Rea

Divya Rea joined Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II this season. She is originally from Wheaton, Ill.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I was three when my mom enrolled me in a ballet class. I loved dancing and continued to train and pursue my dream to one day dance professionally.

Q: what ARE PEOPLE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS a dancer?

A: People are usually surprised to learn how much time and effort goes into being a dancer. The days are long and the work never truly ends. There is always something to perfect, even after training for ten years. However, everything is worth it when I step on stage.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AS WELL AS ARTIST, WHAT MAKES UP YOUR DIET AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: Cross training is important for me. In addition to dance, I do Pilates and run on an elliptical machine. I’m also always on the lookout for new workouts to try. This summer I enjoyed the workouts at Orange Theory Fitness. As far as nutrition goes, I make sure I fuel my body with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. My favorite dish to make is riced cauliflower with salmon and zucchini.

Q: DO YOU HAVE HOBBIES OR SPECIAL INTERESTS?

A: Outside of ballet, I enjoy playing the piano, learning about philosophy, and reading about new scientific discoveries. Piano has always given me a way to lose myself in music. Philosophy fascinates me because I enjoy pondering unanswerable questions, while reading about scientific breakthroughs offers evidence that some mysteries may someday be solved.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA THAT YOU SWEAR BY?

A: One of my first ballet teachers would always tell me to “be a shepherd, not a sheep.” This has been my personal mantra since the age of 8. It reminds me to do what I believe is right, even if that means breaking from what is popular.

KCB II Profile: Miranda Dafoe

Miranda Dafoe came to Kansas City Ballet in 2015 as a Trainee. Now she is dancing in her second season with Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I started taking classes when I was 3 years old. I haven’t stopped since!

Q: what ARE PEOPLE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS a dancer?

A: They are surprised by how many shoes we go through! I’m lucky to make two pairs last a week and they cost about $80-100 a pair!

New Moves 2017. Miranda Dafoe is pictured in the front center. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
New Moves 2017. Miranda Dafoe is pictured in the front center. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AS WELL AS ARTIST, WHAT MAKES UP YOUR DIET AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: I eat a lot of veggies and protein. My snack during rehearsal is always an RXBAR. And of course, I like to treat myself to dessert every once in a while! As far as fitness goes, I focus on cardio and core work at the gym.

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT KC?

A: I love that coming from San Francisco, KC has that “big city feel” as a small city.

Q: What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

A: I’m half Russian!

Second Company Alumni Updates

Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

When Devon Carney arrived in Kansas City to become Kansas City Ballet’s Artistic Director he brought with him a desire to add a second company. In his first season (2013-14) he added five members to KCB II. In his second season (2014-15) he brought KCB II to six dancers and added eight? Trainees. Since then members of these groups have not only gone on to join other dance programs as well as other companies, but some of them have climbed the ranks right here at KCB to become company members. Growing and developing talent has been the goal and it is being achieved.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Looking back over the second company rosters since 2013-14, the majority of the dancers have continued to dance and work in this field. Below is what we’ve found:

  • Kate Anderson: Kate was a member of Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) and Kansas City Youth Ballet (KCYB) before becoming a Trainee for the 2016-17 season. She is now a Trainee at Richmond Ballet.
  • Ivan Braatz: Ivan joined KCB II for the 2015-16 season and was promoted to a KCB Apprentice for the 2016-17 season. He is currently a dancer with Dayton Ballet in Ohio.
  • Rochelle Chang: Rochelle was a charter member of KCB II in the 2013-14 season and is now dancing her 4th season with American Contemporary Ballet in Los Angeles.
  • Lark Commanday: Lark , also a charter member of KCB II in the 2013-14 season stayed on for 2014-15 as well. After dancing as a member of St. Louis Ballet for their 2015-16 season, he went on to teach at Peoria Ballet.
  • Aimee Cover: Amy was a KCBS Summer Intensive student who was invited to become a Trainee for the 2014-15 season. She then danced with St. Louis Ballet.
  • Elizabeth Dennen: Elizabeth danced as a KCB Trainee for the 2015-16 season before becoming a dancer with NWA Ballet Theatre in Northwest Arkansas.
  • Katya Duncan: Katya was a charter member of KCB II in the 2013-14 season. She went on to dance with Bay Pointe Ballet.
  • Nikolas Gaifullin: Nikolas was a member of KCB II for two seasons, 2015-16 and 2016-17, before joining Atlanta Ballet as a company member this season.
  • Shane Horan: Shane attended KCBS’s Summer Intensive and was invited to become a KCB Trainee for the 2014-15 season. He then joined Ballet Idaho as a company dancer.
  • Scout Inghilterra: Scout was a KCB Trainee during the 2016-17 season.  She is currently a Trainee at Richmond Ballet.
  • Kelly Korfhage: Kelly was a member of KCB II for two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16) before joining Verb Ballets as a Company member in 2016.
  • Lukas Pringle: Lukas attended KCBS and was a member of KCYB before being invited to become a KCB Trainee for the 2016-17 season. He is now dancing with Richmond Ballet II.
  • Emily Ryall: Emily was a KCB Trainee for both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. In 2016 she was dancing with Quixotic and teaching dance at Trilogy Cultural Arts Centre in Olathe.
  • Morgan Sicklick: Morgan was a charter member of KCB II, dancing both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. In 2015 she joined wonderbound in Denver as a dancer.
  • Kristin Smith: Kristin attended KCBS and was a member of KCYB before being invited to become a KCB Trainee for both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. She continued as a Cincinnati Ballet Trainee.
  • Aaron Steinberg: Aaron danced with KCB II during the 2015-16 season. He now dances with Nashville Ballet as an apprentice.
  • Kara Troester: Kara attended the KCBS Summer Intensive and danced as a KCB Trainee for both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. She is now dancing with Oklahoma City Ballet’s Studio Company.

SEND UPDATES

If you are a former member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company, please let us know where you are now. Email info@kcballet.org. We’d love to keep up with your career.

 

Photo Credits:

Top–KCB II members Katya Duncan, Morgan Sicklick and Rochelle Chang from 2013-14. Photgraphy by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios. Middle–Second Company rehearsal from 2015-16. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling. Bottom–Kansas City Ballet Second Company Dancers Miranda Dafoe and Nikolas Gaifullin during a performance at the Leedy Volkos Art Center in 2016-17 season. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.

KCB II Profile: Gavin Abercrombie

Gavin Abercrombie is dancing his second year with Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II this year.

Q: HOW DID YOU BECOME A DANCER? AND WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I started dancing at the age of 8, when after seeing my first performance of The Nutcracker, I asked my mom to enroll me in ballet classes.

Q: what do you enjoy most about being a dancer?

A: I enjoy the athleticism and the ability to communicate through movement.

Kansas City Ballet Second Company dancers Marisa Whiteman and Gavin Abercrombie.

Q: Do you have hobbies or special interests? If so, what are they and what do you enjoy about them?

A: I love hiking. Getting the chance to be outside, especially for prolonged backpacking trips is something I grew up doing and always enjoy.

Q: What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

A: I have a twin brother.