Teacher Profile: Taryn Layne-Mulhern

Taryn Layne-Mulhern found her passion for dance early in life.

Finding Inspiration

Originally from Iowa, where she began her dance training, Layne-Mulhern’s family moved to Kansas City in 2001. She continued her training at Somerset Ballet Centre (SBC) in Prairie Village. SBC was acquired by Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) as a second campus the following year. Two of her teachers that first year were Kimberly Cowen and Maureen Hall. Cowen danced with Kansas City Ballet for 20 years before retiring in 2012 to join the faculty of Kansas City Ballet School and Hall is still a member of KCBS’s faculty. Two other major influences from the KCB were former principal dancers under Todd Bolender, Lisa Thorn Vinzant and Sean Duus. Thorn Vinzant is now Ballet Master for Orlando Ballet and Duus still teaches at KCBS in addition to working in the KCB Community Engagement and Education Department.

Layne-Mulhern started teaching dance as a teenager, and taught her first class at KCBS when she was in her early 20s. “Teaching just seemed very natural,” she says.

Expanding Dance Education

As an aspiring dancer in her 20s, Layne-Mulhern performed with some of the smaller KC dance companies but also moved to New York for a couple of years to pursue performing opportunities as a freelance dancer.

Other very formative experiences as a ballet teacher came about while she was living in New York. Layne-Mulhern completed American Ballet Theatre’s ballet teacher training program for all levels of ballet students, became a certified Pilates instructor, and attended an intensive anatomy workshop at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “All of those things helped me grow exponentially as a teaching artist, and I still draw on those experiences, while continuing to build on them as much as possible. I definitely strive to be a lifelong learner,” she says.

When she returned from New York, she came back to teaching at KCBS.

Taryn Layne-Mulhern gives corrections to a student. Photograph by Andrea Wilson
Taryn Layne-Mulhern gives corrections to a student. Photograph by Andrea Wilson

Teaching in the Academy

Over the years, Layne-Mulhern has taught every level of the Academy at KCBS, either as a regular teacher or a sub, but she currently teaches ballet, pre-pointe, pointe, and conditioning for Levels 3, 4, and 5. “Those three levels are so formative – the students have a solid foundation of knowledge, but they’re still learning new steps and perfecting many aspects of their technique,” she says. “They’re also rapidly developing as artists in these levels, and unlocking so much potential. It’s an exciting time for them as students, and it’s very inspiring to have the privilege of being their teacher. I expect a lot from myself as a teacher, and I expect a lot from my students; I want all of us to give 110% every class, every day.”

Teaching in the Studio Division

Adult classes are different. Layne-Mulhern tries to make ballet as accessible as possible in adult classes. “Ballet is absolutely for everyone. I like to say in my beginning ballet classes that you’re not going to just walk into your first class or two or three and be anywhere near perfect, and that’s really okay. Ballet is like so many other worthwhile challenges – learning to play an instrument, learning to speak a foreign language – it takes time, work, and repetition to figure it out and move forward,” she says.

What does she enjoy about sharing ballet with students? “I find so much happiness in it, and I want to give that to other people,” Layne-Mulhern says. “I believe that dance will always be relevant and important. It has so much beauty and integrity and joy to offer the world, and the world will always need those things.”

Want to try her class?

Interested in taking an adult studio class with Taryn Layne-Mulhern? Check out the upcoming schedules here.

Teacher Profile: Kramer Kreiling

Kramer (Pruitt) Kreiling is Kansas City Ballet School’s Administrator at the Bolender Center. Along with being among the frontline staff to greet students and guests at the Bolender Center, she also teaches a number of classes for a wide range of students including creative movement classes on up to adults taking Studio classes. But if Kramer seems familiar, it could be because she’s been around KCBS since she was 9.

A Stong History

Kramer has seen a lot of changes for the school as well. When she started taking classes, KCB was located where the Kauffman Center is now. Then the organization moved across the street to 1601 Broadway, what’s now Quixotic’s Offices.

During her time, she danced in several Kansas City Ballet productions including the role of “Clara” in Todd Bolender’s The Nutcracker, and MidWest Youth Ballet became Kansas City Youth Ballet. Kramer was part of the youth company from its inception in 2007 through 2011 when she graduated from high school and KCBS. After college, where she earned her BFA in Dance in 2014, she began teaching classes at KCBS and eventually worked her way up to an administrator position.

Kramer (Pruitt) Kreiling as Clara in The Nutcracker, 2005. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Kramer (Pruitt) Kreiling as Clara in The Nutcracker, 2005. Photography by Keith Gard.

“I never really questioned leaving the dance world,” Kramer says. “I can’t exactly pinpoint a moment, but it was just always the thing that felt ‘right’. Though I now just take classes for personal enjoyment, I still feel fully immersed in the ballet world with my teaching.”

A New Passion

Kramer says: “The first time I stepped into the studio as the teacher, rather than the student, I knew I had discovered my true passion. I absolutely love teaching! I like to say that when I dance it is my selfish act, but when I teach it is my way of giving to others. I am lucky to teach a large variety of classes here at KCBS. Most of my time is spent with young dancers in our Children’s Program and with our Adult Beginners. I have also had the opportunity to teach contemporary, improv, and theraband classes in KCBS’s Summer Intensive and Junior Summer Intensive.”

Kramer enjoys being both a teacher and administrator because she is able to bond with students in the studio, as well as with their families outside of the studio. Making those connections brings her full circle back to her own memories of being a student at KCBS.

Teacher Profile: Skyler Taylor

Skyler Taylor is the school registrar here at Kansas City Ballet. Not only does she have an important role in the running of our school, but she teaches multiple classes at both the downtown and Johnson County campuses. One of Skyler’s favorite classes to teach is Creative Movement, which is designed for kids ages 3-5 years old.

Q: How long have you been dancing?

A: I have been dancing for as long as I can remember. My mother inspired me at a very young age to appreciate the gift of dance. I had a lot of personality as a child, and I loved to take class and perform in front of an audience on stage. 

Q: I understand you grew up around the dance studio your mother owned. Could you tell us a little bit about your dance background?

A: I spent most of my childhood dancing at my mother’s studio.  I took as many classes as I could, which allowed me to learn tap, jazz, ballet, and pointe.  I started performing in the community and traveling to take more classes in nearby cities. At the age of 14, I chose to move to Kansas City to increase the intensity of my training at American Dance Center and then at Kansas City Ballet School.  I have wonderful memories from being a Student Apprentice with Kansas City Ballet, receiving my B.F.A in Dance from UMKC, training at the Alvin Ailey School and the Joffrey School in New York, touring with Albany Berkshire Ballet Company in Albany, NY, and dancing with Sarasota Ballet Company in Sarasota, FL.  It has been a great journey!

Q: How long have you been teaching Creative Movement?

A: I have been teaching Creative Movement since I was 15 years old, and it is one of my favorite classes to teach. It allows me to be creative and playful. I love to incorporate nursery rhymes and imagery into my classes. Creative Movement is a child’s first experience with dance, so I want it to be positive and enjoyable. 3-5 year-olds always find a way to make me smile.

Q: Did you take Creative Movement as a child?

A: I sure did! I started dancing and performing at a very young age and I plan on doing it for as long as I can. It has shaped me into the individual that I am today.

Q: What does Creative Movement teach the students? Balance? Discipline?

A: Creative Movement introduces children to music, movement, rhythm, and rhyme.  It develops coordination, confidence, and creativity.

Q: In your opinion why should parents enroll their child in Creative Movement?

A: For many young dancers, this is there first time in a classroom with other students and teachers. It is a great way for children to develop listening skills, learn to follow direction, and interact with other children. It is a big step for 3-year-olds to venture into a classroom on their own, but it gives them great confidence in the end.

Q: What is you favorite moment throughout your time teaching Creative Movement?

A: I have several favorite moments from teaching Creative Movement. Some are humorous and some are heartwarming. I love it when little ones come in timid and shy, and leave smiling and wanting to stay. Every time my little ones perform in front of an audience I am so proud of their accomplishments. It reminds me of how much I love my job!

Teacher Profile: Marcus Oatis

Marcus Oatis is the manager for Kansas City Ballet School’s Johnson County Campus and is also one of our teachers. He was a dancer in the KCB Company for five years before making the transition into the administrative side of the dance industry. Read below to find out more about Marcus!

Q: When did you start taking dance classes and how did you get involved?
A: I started taking dance through an educational outreach program that introduced students to dance in public schools. After the workshop, they asked me if I would continue dancing with them. From there the sky was the limit.

Q: Did you take part in any Summer Intensives throughout your training?
A: When I was younger I went to the Ailey School and in college I went to Kansas City Ballet’s Summer Intensive.

Q: Tell me about your dance career before you came to Kansas City Ballet.
A: Kansas City Ballet was my first full time professional job. Before coming to KCB I danced throughout Nebraska performing with community groups and small “pick-up” companies. Basically, I took every opportunity to perform regardless of how much it paid.

Q: You were with the KCB Company for five years, what made you decide to go into Ballet Administration?
A: I chose this path because it really highlights the different experiences that I have had. Before joining KCB, I worked at a variety of places, which I enjoyed very much. I wanted to do something where I could merge all of my passions into one position.

Q: Do you have the opportunity to teach any of the classes? Do you still take dance classes yourself?
A: Yes, I am a member of the teaching faculty at KCBS. The majority of my time is directed towards the upper school students but I will occasionally make an appearance in the lower school. I have not taken a class yet. I am currently trying to find a different way to challenge myself. I am thinking about training for a marathon…I can’t decide!