Remembering Deena Budd

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“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.

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

HUMOR AND KINDNESS — A WINNING COMBINATION

“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.”

INCREDIBLE SKILL

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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.”

BEYOND DANCING

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.

OBITUARY

For more about Deena, please read her obituary.

MORE PHOTOS

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