We are so grateful to you, our audiences, who’ve come to share your holiday with us and to appreciate the joy of The Nutcracker. This is my favorite time of year. A time for reflection and renewal. A time to take stock of blessings and to refine that which I hold most dear.
It was a labor of love to choreograph and oversee the creation of this production with the help of an incredible design team: Alain Vaës who developed such stunning sets, Holly Hynes who designed magnificent costumes, and Trad A Burns who put together an incredible lighting scheme.
I truly appreciate the opportunity to once again direct all of these amazing dancers. Each year is a chance to revisit these roles and continue to tweak them to play to strengths and to keep the roles fresh.
And, our wonderful Kansas City Ballet School students are our next generation of rising stars growing to take on better and better roles each year. It makes me so proud that we cast the entire children’s cast from our own school—not all companies can do that. It’s a true demonstration of the caliber of our students and teachers.
Kansas City, you have a world-class production here to enjoy every year for generations to come. The whole show is a testament to that and it is what drew the attention of the Kennedy Center.
This year we were especially proud to have been invited to perform our Nutcracker in our nation’s theater, the John F. Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C. over Thanksgiving week. It was an amazing experience for all of us to represent KC in D.C. in such an incredible way.
I’ve always said this show is for kids from 2 to 92—and that’s 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 of holiday spirit as well.
In 2015 Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney choreographed a brand new record-breaking, critically acclaimed production of The Nutcracker for Kansas City Ballet and built on a legacy that KC audiences have treasured for 45 years.
Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City
Carney’s $2.1 million version brought even more in the way of updated special effects and delightful details, thanks to his captivating choreography and the help of his amazing creative team: Alain Vaës (sets), Holly Hynes (costumes), and Trad A Burns (lighting). The production has been so well received that the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., extended an invitation to perform it there this year during the week of Thanksgiving.
Carney stated: “We have the honor of being invited to our country’s national theatre for a limited engagement to present our acclaimed production during our 60th Anniversary Season, and I am especially proud to represent all Kansas Citians in our nation’s capital during the Thanksgiving holiday.”
The Nutcracker has touched Kansas City audiences since the first performance in the Southwest High School Auditorium on Wornall Road. It began with Founder Tatiana Dokoudovska and her choreography and vision in 1972.
KCB’s first Clara, Lisa (Merrill) Hickok, played the role for the first four Nutcracker performances. During the first two years, the Company performed the Nutcracker Suite, but by 1974 they began performing the full-length ballet. Hickok described her experience those early years as “exciting and scary.”
Miss Tania had a reputation for her incredible work ethic. She insisted on the best from her dancers. And, she knew all of the ballets by heart.
“One of my fondest memories involves Miss Tania. It was the final performance for me after four years as Clara. The production staff presented roses to Miss Tania on stage after she was brought out at the final bows. She gave them to me and it truly touched my heart. I’ll never forget that moment of her acknowledgement of my dedication…even as a 12-year old,” recalls Hickok. “It has impacted my desire to help this Company for the rest of my days.”
In December 1981 under the direction of Artistic Director Todd Bolender, The Nutcracker premiered to full houses. During his tenure, Bolender revamped the choreography, most notably in the Waltz of the Flowers. He also arranged for new costumes and in 1994, new sets designed by Robert Fletcher.
Former KCB dancer and current Kansas City Ballet School Principal, Kimberly Cowen, had the privilege to work with Bolender. “Todd made you feel like you had to be on top of your game every step you took,” Cowen says.
Cowen remembers Bolender wanted the first act to be all about the children. Not surprising since Bolender made it a point to start the KCB School. In 1996 when Artistic Director William Whitener took the helm, the tradition of focusing on the kids continued.
The Spirit Lives On
The Nutcracker is more than just a holiday tradition. It’s an important training tool for the dancers. “Nutcracker is one of the only times a dancer gets to perform his or her role more than just a few times,” Carney says. “They have the chance to improve…grow. It’s interesting to see how much they can develop their role during the run and perhaps again in subsequent years.”
In 45 years, Nutcracker has continued to draw audiences and student performers alike. Many families attend every year as part of their holiday traditions. In the end, it’s about dreams.
“As the end of the run draws near, the company is usually excited the holiday is here. But the kids are so sad Nutcracker’s over. They’re nervous at the beginning of December but by the end they’re having fun. You really see them change,” says Cowen who, since retiring from the stage in 2012 has worked for Kansas City Ballet School and helps rehearse the children’s casts.
Maybe that is where the magic comes from…
Featuring dozens of colorful characters, Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker is one of the region’s most successful presentations, all led by the extraordinary professional Kansas City Ballet Company, Second Company and 163 students selected from Kansas City Ballet School.
Kansas City Ballet will once again present The Nutcracker this holiday season this December. The enchanting costumes, stunning sets, stellar choreography by Artistic Director Devon Carney, and Tchaikovsky’s memorable score, continue to tell the timeless tale of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince as they journey to the unforgettable Land of the Sweets.
Kansas City Ballet is honored to have been invited to bring our Nutcracker to the Nation’s stage at The John F. Kennedy Center to perform this week (Nov. 22 and 24-26, 2017). The undertaking of such an endeavor is not light work. There were many considerable tasks involved in accepting the opportunity, not the least of which was simply getting everyone and everything there. Never one to back down from a challenge, especially one as special as this, there have been months spent preparing.
It will take four semi-trailer trucks and many hours on the road to get all of the sets and production pieces to D.C. Kansas City Ballet General Manager Kevin Amey also spent hours arranging flights for all the members of the company and artistic and production staff.
Kansas City Ballet Music Director Ramona Pansegrau spent many, many hours re-orchestrating our Nutcracker score for the larger National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center. Among other additions, they have two harpists instead of one. These scores will only be used during this run.
Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney and Kansas City Ballet School Principals Kimberly Cowen and Racheal Nye auditioned hundreds of children in D.C. and have spent countless hours preparing materials to assist the D.C. stagers during rehearsals until Kimberly and Devon could be there to rehearse them with our company.
In honor of Kansas City Ballet’s Nutcracker debut at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., next week, KC Ballet has Company member Lamin Pereira dos Santos and KCB School Student Maggie Crist on board to takeover the @kc.ballet and @kc.balletschool Instagram accounts respectively. Be sure to follow them on their incredible journey that begins today! Send them some hometown love as they represent KCB in our nation’s capital. They’ll begin KC performances on Dec. 7th at the Kauffman Center.
Top: KCB Dancer Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Bottom: KCB Dancer Michael Davis and KCB School Student Maggie Crist. All photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
During our Nutcracker season we asked many of you to donate to our Holiday Magic Campaign, which sent children from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City and their families to The Nutcracker.
Thanks to your generous gifts, more than 225 local children were able to attend The Nutcracker! The children enjoyed the performances so much that they created artwork as a special “thank you.” We couldn’t resist sharing. Without you, this kind of inspiration would not be possible.
Kansas City Ballet is thankful to all of those who gave the gift of The Nutcracker to these local children.
What has Kansas City said about Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker? Click on the links below for exclusive interviews, videos, and pictures! There’s still time to buy tickets! Click HERE for more information!
KC Star: Click the link below to read about the last performance of Todd Bolender’s The Nutcracker.
Susan Bubb and Megan Bubb Cribb: Nutcracker Ball Co-Chairmen 2013
Susan Bubb and Megan Bubb Cribb are honored to be representing the Kansas City Ballet Guild as Chairmen of the 46th annual Nutcracker Ball. The rich tradition of the Ballet Ball and the timeless beauty of The Nutcracker will magically transform the Bartle Hall Grand Ballroom on December 6th for this very special and momentous occasion. Longtime Ballet fans, Susan and Megan are happy to be able to set the framework for this new annual event. With a new date, theme, and location, this is sure to be an evening of enchantment to put you into the holiday spirit. Net proceeds from the fundraiser support both the Kansas City Ballet and Kansas City Ballet School. Susan and Megan are proud to be part of such an exciting time for the performing arts in Kansas City, with the announcement of the Ballet’s new artistic director, Devon Carney, we know you will agree that 2013 is truly a milestone of new direction. Susan and her husband Stephen have enjoyed opening their home for many local organizations, the Junior League of Johnson and WyandotteCounties, the Lyric Opera, The Barstow School, PEO, Fireside, the Ballet Guild and the CarlsonCenter at JohnsonCountyCommunity college. Megan careers as team lead of The Bubb Cribb Team of Reece and Nichols, she shares this team with her brother Eric Bubb and husband Christopher J. Cribb. She has a passion for all things real estate and Kansas City.
This Mother Daughter duo are looking forward to an enchanting evening with family and friends.
The Sugar Plum Fairy is one of the main roles in The Nutcracker. Representing a sort of ‘Queen’ in the Kingdom of Sweets, she dons a sparkly gold tutu and a shining tiara in KCB’s version of The Nutcracker. By her side is her handsome cavalier, who shines alongside her during their Grand Pa de Deux.
Take a look back at Sugar Plum Fairies over the past years in this collage below. Also, hear from one of our current Sugar Plum Fairies in our newest video.