Devon Carney Talks Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe

Devon Carney Talks Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe
Artistic Director, Devon Carney

Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe

Any ONE of these choreographers on a program is exciting, but all three? Well, Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe together is quite something! This is such an exciting moment for the company. We are thrilled to present two of the best-known works by living choreographers William Forsythe and Twyla Tharp combined with a world premiere from David Parsons. All three are absolutely incredible and brilliant.

David Parsons, the prodigal son, came home to create his first brand new work just for us [KCB]. The program begins with his original comedy gem A Play for Love, based on renowned Shakespeare characters. David Parsons’ choreography is always inventive, exciting, off-center, vibrant, challenging, and grounded (low-weighted movement). This is no exception!

If that wasn’t enough, this is our very first time performing a Forsythe work. He’s one of the greatest living choreographers on the planet and we get to perform his most-known work. It was a chance meeting with him, that conversation, when he gave us permission to perform his signature work In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. We join top ballet companies around the world performing this work.

And, finally, I have a few words about our final piece on the program: Aerobic. Powerful. Hard. Exhilarating!

Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room is a huge finale for the season from a major choreographic legend. The Philip Glass music gets inside you until your nerve endings are on fire—in a good way. Tharp does an incredible job of weaving together classical ballet and contemporary dance, two very different dance disciplines, into a single signature energy. The last movement, when the dancers are firing on all cylinders and then some, leads up to a brilliant and spectacular conclusion.

This program is THE way to finish the year—a wonderful year of artistic growth. This program demonstrates that today’s dancers have to be able to do it all. And our KCB dancers deliver. Ballet doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Top photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

KCB Second Company Performs on KC Symphony Program

 

KC Ballet's Second Company and Artistic Director Devon Carney along with KC Symphony musicians after a rehearsal. | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
KC Ballet’s Second Company and Artistic Director Devon Carney along with KC Symphony musicians after a rehearsal. | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

In Kansas City’s vast arts scene, collaboration is key. Kansas City Symphony plays for most Kansas City Ballet performances. But sometimes the scale is tipped the other way as well.

Tomorrow Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company performs alongside musicians during one of KC Symphony’s happy hour series concerts. It gives audiences, as well as artists, a chance to enjoy different layers of the arts in one tidy package.

MORE ABOUT THE KCS PROGRAM

Free KC Symphony Happy Hour Concert
I COULD’VE DANCED ALL NIGHT

Tuesday, April 30 at 6 p.m.
Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center

Come as you are and join the scene for a casual, after-work concert hosted by the KC Symphony. Enjoy a drink in the Kauffman Center lobby and then experience a variety of dance-inspired pieces played by Kansas City Symphony musicians. Hear Piazzola’s lively Libertango arranged for woodwind quintet, a concert waltz for cello quartet and much more. Dancers from KC Ballet’s Second Company will perform on two works choreographed by Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney.

Cash bars open at 5 p.m. A one-hour concert in Helzberg Hall follows at 6 p.m. FREE general admission tickets are Sold Out! Sponsored by Lead Bank.

Meet Tharp Parsons Forsythe

On Friday, May 10th, Kansas City Ballet will embark on an incredible dance adventure. They’ve been preparing for months with rehearsals, costume fittings and the like. But with a title like Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe, there is room to wonder what to expect.

Each of these names belongs to a world renowned choreographer known for navigating uncharted dance territory—Legends of Dance. Here’s your chance to get to know them a bit before the curtain rises.

TWYLA THARP

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Twyla Tharp was born on July 1, 1941 in Portland, Indiana to Lecile Tharp. Her mother was the first woman from Jay County, Indiana to have received a college degree. Since Ms. Tharp’s graduation from Barnard College in 1963, she has choreographed more than 160 works: 129 dances, 12 television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows, and two figure skating routines. She has received one Tony Award; two Emmy Awards; 19 honorary doctorates, mostly recently from Harvard University; the Vietnam Veterans of America President’s Award; the 2004 National Medal of the Arts; the 2008 Jerome Robbins Prize; and a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. Read More

DAVID PARSONS

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David Parsons has enjoyed a remarkable career as a director, choreographer, performer, master teacher and producer. Raised in Kansas City, Mr. Parsons made it to New York at the age of 17 when he received a scholarship to the Alvin Ailey School. After Ailey, he became an understudy with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and then joined the company as a principal dancer. He stayed for eight years. During summers, he toured with MOMIX; he appeared with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris in the first White Oak tour; and he launched his choreographic career by setting work on the Taylor Company and on the National Ballet of Canada, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Batsheva Dance Company, and the Paris Opera Ballet. Read More

WILLIAM FORSYTHE

William Forsythe has been active in the field of choreography for over 45 years. His work is acknowledged for reorienting the practice of ballet from its identification with classical repertoire to a dynamic 21st century art form. Mr. Forsythe’s deep interest in the fundamental principles of organization has led him to produce a wide range of projects including Installations, Films, and Web based knowledge creation. Raised in New York and initially trained in Florida with Nolan Dingman and Christa Long, Mr. Forsythe danced with the Joffrey Ballet and later the Stuttgart Ballet, where he was appointed Resident Choreographer in 1976. In 1984, he began a 20-year tenure as director of the Ballet Frankfurt. After its closure, Mr. Forsythe established a new ensemble, The Forsythe Company, which he directed from 2005 to 2015. His most recent works were developed and performed exclusively by The Forsythe Company, while his earlier pieces are prominently featured in the repertoire of virtually every major ballet company in the world, including The Mariinsky Ballet, The New York City Ballet and The Paris Opera Ballet. Read More

TICKETS

Tharp / Parsons / Forsythe runs May 10-19, 2019 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets click here or call 816.931.8993.

 

Top Photo: KCB Dancers Amaya Rodriguez and Joshua Bodden. Photography by Kenny Johnson.

2018-19 Trainee Profile: Teresa Bowden

2018-2019 KC Ballet Trainee and Second Company Member Teresa Bowden. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Teresa Bowden is a Trainee and member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company. Originally from Cary, North Carolina, this is her first season as a Trainee.

Q: wHY DID YOU BECOME A DANCER?

A: I started dancing because my little sister didn’t want to finish her lessons. They were already paid for so my mom gave them to me.

KCB Trainee Teresa Bowden in The Nutcracker | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios
KCB Trainee Teresa Bowden in The Nutcracker | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

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

A: I enjoy going to the gym and cross training.

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

A: When I am not dancing, I like to read books and watch Netflix/YouTube.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? 

A: I really enjoy rewatching The Office and thrift shopping.

 

 

Top Photo by Savanna Daniels.

2019 BARRE KC Soiree Event

Soiree Attendees pose on Boulevard’s outdoor patio.

2019 BARRE KC SOIREE

The annual BARRE KC Soiree was held at Boulevard Brewing Company this past Saturday (April 13, 2019) in the Muehlebach Suite.

More than 200 enjoyed complimentary beer, wine and appetizers, a dynamic performance by KCB’s Second Company, a silent auction, and of course dancing the night away with DJ Ashton Martin.

More than $9,000 was raised. Proceeds from this event help fund 16 Reach Out And Dance (R.O.A.D.) Scholarship Schools. R.O.A.D. combines dance with academics (along with live music) to make a fun environment for learning. This Kansas City Ballet program reaches 800 plus kids in Kansas City Public School District and Turner Unified School District. Each school receives a 12-week dance residency for all 3rd grade students.

Special Thanks To Our Sponsors:
US BankBoulevard Brewing Co., The Michael and Marlys Haverty Family Foundation, bnim, Stepp & Rothwell, and UMB Bank.

BARRE KC is the premier organization for young adults interested in supporting Kansas City Ballet.

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Soiree Attendees pose on Boulevard’s outdoor patio.
A couple dances to DJ Ashton Martin
A couple dances to DJ Ashton Martin

Special thanks FROM BARRE KC to:

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Event Chair Dora Grote, the BARRE KC Soiree Planning Committee (pictured above), Emcee Mark Walberg and DJ Ashton Martin!

Photography by Kate Sweeten Photography.

2018-19 Trainee Profile: Emma Pennell

2018-2019 KC Ballet Trainee and Second Company Member Emma Pennell. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Emma Pennell is a Trainee and member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company. Originally from Allen, Texas, this is her second season as a Trainee.

Emma Pennell (in green) during 2018 Summer Intensive class at Kansas City Ballet School | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling
Emma Pennell (in green) during 2018 Summer Intensive class at Kansas City Ballet School | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling

Q: wHY DID YOU BECOME A DANCER?

A: One of my older sisters was a dancer; so naturally I wanted to dance as well and be just like her. Ever since I began at age 4, I fell in love with the art form. I continued to pursue dance because it was so fulfilling to perform and express myself in unique ways.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BALLET?

A: As an art form specifically, I love ballet because it allows me to express my emotions, whatever they may be at the time. I am able to interpret the role and make it personal and apply those emotions to make ballet more connective.

Q: WHAT IS SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE WOULD NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU? 

A: What most people don’t know about me is that during my junior year of high school I became a Certified Nurse Aide. Also, during my senior year of high school I took an Emergency Medical Technician course and am in the process of becoming nationally certified.

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

A: Outside of the studio, to stay fit I enjoy running. It allows me to clear my mind and focus on something else while simultaneously exercising and building my stamina.

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: The best advice I have received is to stay happy in every situation. Looking for the positives and staying uplifted helps you get through the hard days and makes the tough times go by a little faster.

 

Top Photo by Savanna Daniels.

New Moves Opens Thursday!

Dancers Enrico Hipolito and Elysa Hotchkiss rehearse Emily Mistretta's "Prism Break" | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling
Dancers Enrico Hipolito and Elysa Hotchkiss rehearse Emily Mistretta’s “Prism Break” | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling

Kansas City Ballet performs their annual New Moves program at the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity this week (March 28-31, 2019).

The show features brand new choreography by Gary Abbott (Associate Professor of Modern Dance from UMKC), Haley Kostas (local dancer, choreographer, and dance educator), Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye (Northwest Arkansas Ballet Theatre Artistic Director), Price Suddarth (Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist), and current company dancers Courtney Nitting, Emily Mistretta and James Kirby Rogers.

We sat down with company members Emily Mistretta and Courtney Nitting to find out more about their choreographic process.

EMILY MISTRETTA

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT CREATING NEW WORK?

Last year was my first time trying to create a piece.  It was a little daunting at first. I probably enjoy it the most when it all comes together and starts to look like something.  For me it’s ambiguous for a long time and then at one point it clicks and I can start to see it form. That is a very exciting feeling.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT CHOREOGRAPHING?

The hardest part is deciding where I want it to go.  I can see movement and a trajectory in front of me, but the options are literally endless.  Sometimes you want something specific and other times you’re open to see where the momentum of the piece or any given movement will take you, its hard to be calm and let things unfold instead of trying to take control. It’s a balance between what you envision and what wants to happen organically. My process is me by myself in the studio improving and seeing what comes out.  From there I kind of string together steps or a sequence and then it sparks my mind for what else is about to happen.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?

My inspiration usually comes from the music.  The music dictates the way that I want to move at any given moment and I try to take my cues from that.  Sometimes there is a certain theme or feeling I want to evoke and I’ll try to keep that in the back of my mind as I’m moving.

LAST YEAR YOUR LEAD FEMALE DANCER WAS INJURED ON OPENING NIGHT. YOU HAD TO STEP IN TO PERFORM IN YOUR OWN WORK FOR THE REMAINING PERFORMANCES. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?

It was really fun to perform in my own piece! I want my work to feel good and to be fun to do. Being a dancer, still sometimes it’s odd to be on the other side. You have this impulse to want to dance even if it’s in the work you’re creating.  So, yes, it was super fun. Though I think it helped that I had never planned on dancing it, I think it’s even trickier to choreograph yourself into a piece.  Of course, just because I choreographed it did not mean I knew the steps whatsoever.  Especially when a dancer takes it and makes it their own, it’s not really what it was initially anymore. So, I had to learn it and figure it out and improve myself back into it.  It gives you an insight into what you’re making someone else do and then you apologize for making them do the step that way because now you know how it feels.

 

COURTNEY NITTING

WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH CHOREOGRAPHING?

It started when I was a student at SAB. They have a program called Student Choreographic Workshop and I thought, “Why not try it?” I love all aspects of dance. I love being creative. So I thought I might as well try choreographing since I have been given the opportunity. I did that for two years and actually had small reviews written on them and they were liked. I thought maybe this is something I can keep in my back pocket. Then last year at Pennsylvania Ballet, they do a program called ‘Shut up and Dance’. It’s a performance that raises money for Manna (a food service for people with serious illnesses who need nourishment to heal). My piece opened the show and went over really well. So when coming to Kansas City Ballet and learning about New Moves, I thought I’d give it another go.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT CREATING NEW WORK?

I enjoy being in the studio with the dancers and seeing it come together. Sometimes the steps or movements you create in your head don’t work. But when it does, it’s like a magic moment. Seeing what you had pictured in your head or written on a piece of paper come to life is extremely gratifying.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?

I get my inspiration from the music. I always try and continuously listen to my music to the point where I know every sound and note and see what it tells me to create. I like to think of the quote by George Balanchine “see the music, hear the dance.” This is what I hope people get when they watch my piece.

WHEN YOU DECIDED TO CHOREOGRAPH YOU WERE A BRAND NEW MEMBER OF THE COMPANY. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO THROW YOUR HAT INTO THE RING?

Deciding to choreograph for New Moves as a brand new company member I knew was a risk. No one knows me, I don’t know the dancers, and it’s extra work and pressure. However I like to think that I face risk situations like this head on. For me it’s important to not only come into a new company and show myself as a dancer, but all the other interests I have. I don’t want to be a one trick pony; I want to show that I have much more to offer.


New Moves opens this Thursday, March 28 and runs through Sunday, March 31. A few tickets are still available here or by calling the Ballet Box Office at 816.931.8993.

Teacher Profile: Lynley Von Engeln

Lynley Von Engeln grew up attending Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker. She enrolled at age 10 at a local dance school in Pennsylvania. Though she took classes in just about every genre, it was the elegance and expression of ballet that really drew her in.

She found she loved the balance of freedom and discipline the art form requires. “I was always very shy growing up (and still am at times),” she says. “But ballet gave me a way to express myself that always felt very safe.”

WHY KC?

While attending a performing arts high school, Lynley had a chance encounter with an instructor from UMKC’s Conservatory for Music and Dance. It’s why she later enrolled there. Her start with Kansas City Ballet School came from a post graduate internship. She has since moved up the ranks from intern to instructor and Children’s Program and School Coordinator.

A LOVE OF TEACHING

As a teacher, Lynley enjoys the constant learning cycle from student to teacher and teacher to student. “Even at the young age of 2, I am constantly learning new things from my students which helps me to grow as a teacher and a person,” she says. “I love getting to know each student and finding ways to spark their creativity.”

She admits she loves teaching little ones: “There is something so innocent and brave about that age, when they are unaware of the eyes of the world and any restrictions that might hold them back. They are SO creative and have no inhibitions in terms of movement or expression. I find it really inspiring and renewing to watch and teach young students. However, there are aspects of each level that I teach that I cherish.”

Growing up, dance was such an important part of Lynley’s life. It taught her discipline, expression, confidence, and so much more. For all of her students, she hopes to pass on the same experience and knowledge that she was given.

Lynley says, “Even if I had not gone into the arts as a profession, I feel as though studying dance made me a better, well-rounded person.”


Kansas City Ballet School 2019 Summer Programs are enrolling now for ages 2-18. Find out more about classes for kids and adults.

Student Profile: Talia Lebowitz

Talia Lebowitz (center) during Kansas City Ballet School's 2018 Summer Intensive program | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling
Talia Lebowitz (center) during Kansas City Ballet School’s 2018 Summer Intensive program | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling

Talia Lebowitz started ballet at age 5. She remembers always wanting to take ballet classes. Once she started, she instantly loved everything about it.

“I love how ballet is very structured but there’s freedom in the movements,” Talia says.

Talia grew up in Agoura Hills, Calif., not far from Malibu. She had attended ballet summer intensive programs at American Ballet Theatre (ABT), Ellison Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet School—all in NY. But UMKC Conservatory professor and Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) faculty member, David Justin, came to her home studio at California Dance Theatre to teach a master class. He said the class could double as an audition for the Summer Intensive program at KCBS. She signed up and later received an acceptance letter that extended her a full scholarship.

COMING TO KC

That opportunity brought her to Kansas City Ballet School’s summer intensive program for the first time. While she was here, she enjoyed the teachers, the building, the studios and the ballet technique so much. When she was invited to join the KCBS Daytime Program in the fall of 2018, she jeté-ed at the chance.

At just 16, she had just completed her homeschooling program along with her older brother. So last fall, her parents packed up both of their children for their new adventures. Her brother enrolled in University of California, Santa Barbara, and Talia headed to KC. She now lives on her own with four other girls who are students at KCBS.

“I’d had a taste of being on my own at previous summer intensives in New York, so I wasn’t scared,” she says.

Talia Lebowitz dancing in "Waltz of the Flowers" in "The Nutcracker" | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling
Talia Lebowitz dancing in “Waltz of the Flowers” in “The Nutcracker” | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling

WINNING ROLES

After joining the Daytime Program, Talia auditioned for The Nutcracker. She was cast in three roles: an angel, traditionally danced by advanced students, and also a member of the corps for the snow scene and “Waltz of the Flowers”. The latter two were roles usually danced by members of the professional company. She danced these roles over the course of 25 shows—sometimes performing all three in a single performance.

“It was amazing! I was really nervous, but it was such a good experience,” Talia says. “Getting to dance with the company was so cool… a dream come true.”

YOUTH AMERICA GRAND PRIX

In February 2019, Talia competed in Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Semi-final competitions that took place at The Folly Theater here in KC. Out of more than 100 entries, she received 2nd place in the Senior Classical competition. She performed two works: Grand Pas Classique and Raymonda Variations. Quite a feat!

KANSAS CITY YOUTH BALLET

She is also a member of KCB School’s performance ensemble Kansas City Youth Ballet (KCYB). Talia will perform the Spartacus Pas de Deux as part of their April 4-6 program at the Bolender Center. She will also dance a variation during Esmeralda, which is title work.

THE FUTURE

Talia feels she’s definitely gotten stronger since she started dancing at Kansas City Ballet School. Her dream is to be a professional dancer in a ballet company someday. She’s already accepted a spot as a Trainee here in KC for the 2019-2020 season.

2018-19 Trainee Profile: Georgia Fuller

2018-2019 KC Ballet Trainee and Second Company Member Georgia Fuller. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

When she’s not writing poetry or busy buying fun socks, Georgia Fuller is honing her skills as a Trainee and member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company. Originally from Cincinnati, this is her second season as a Trainee.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BALLET?

A: I love the expression and the hard work required for ballet. It is the only art form that requires you to do crazy things with your body, but look completely effortless on top. You have two jobs in Ballet—to not only be technically correct, but to also share real emotion with the audience. I love that about dance, having a connection with those who are watching you.

KCB Trainee Georgia Fuller dancing in the Snow Scene in "The Nutcracker" | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios
KCB Trainee Georgia Fuller dancing in the Snow Scene in “The Nutcracker” | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Q: WHAT QUESTION ARE YOU MOST ASKED ABOUT YOUR JOB?

A: A lot of people are curious about what we actually do as professional dancers—I think there’s definitely a misconception about the art form as a whole. I usually explain to people that while what I’m doing is somewhat unconventional, it’s still similar to any other 9 to 5 job. You work hard, put in the effort, and everything is taken seriously.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SNACK, STRETCH AND DANCE BAG ITEM? 

A: My favorite snack is almonds or veggies and hummus. My favorite stretch would definitely be anything to stretch out my deep six muscles because they are always sore! And my favorite dance bag item would be my tennis ball because I’m always needing it to roll out any knots or tight muscles.

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

A: I take Pilates reformer lessons at least once a week, and I go to the gym frequently. I love exercising, so I make sure to include a lot of cardio and weight training into my routine

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: My dad once told me that in dance, there’s always someone better than you, and someone worse than you. It reminds me to keep pushing myself to grow more each day, but to always appreciate and acknowledge the progress that I’ve already made.

 

Top Photo by Savanna Daniels.