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.

2018-2019 Dancer Profile: Gavin Abercrombie

Acton, Ca., native, Gavin Abercrombiejoined Kansas City Ballet in 2016 as a member of KCB II. In 2018 he was invited to become an apprentice for the company

Dancer Gavin Abercrombie in The Nutcracker | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios
Dancer Gavin Abercrombie in The Nutcracker | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCER?

A: My twin brother and I were always moving, so my mother enrolled us into a hip hop class. That Christmas my family went to see The Nutcracker and that made me want to sign up for my first ballet class. I was 8 years old. I’ve been doing it ever since.

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

A: It’s an amazing experience. To be surrounded by so many people who share the same passion, and to be with an organization that allows us to be a part of so many different creative processes is truly something I’ll never take for granted.

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

A: I love to hike. I grew up in a very outdoorsy family and would go hiking and camping very regularly. I love that hiking still has that very raw physical element to it, but I’m most in love in with the places that hiking allows me to to see and enjoy.

Q: WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED?

A: The best advice I’ve ever received was to be a bold presence in the studio and not be afraid to take chances. Coming out of the school and into a company is a scary change and it’s easy to hide yourself in the back. But if you have confidence in yourself and take some risks, you’ll find that it usually ends up opening amazing opportunities for you.

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Youth Ballet Alumni Choreograph New Works

Cameron Miller leads rehearsal with KCYB Dancers. | Photography by Andrea Wilson
Cameron Miller leads rehearsal with KCYB Dancers. | Photography by Andrea Wilson

Since 2009 Kansas City Youth Ballet (KCYB) has been the performing ensemble for Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS). For the first time ever, they will perform choreography created by former KCYB members— Maggie Andriani and Cameron Miller.

Cameron Miller (center) in the Spring 2013 KCYB show promotions | Photography by Brett Pruitt and East Market Studios
Cameron Miller (center) in the Spring 2013 KCYB show promotions | Photography by Brett Pruitt and East Market Studios

Both Andriani and Miller went on to major in dance at universities after graduating from their respective high schools, KCBS and KCYB. Andriani attended Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Opera and Ballet Theater, and Miller went to The UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Andriani is now a member of Quixotic Cirque Nouveau and has toured with the group across the U.S. and internationally. Miller is a dancer with American Midwest Ballet (formerly Ballet Nebraska).

KCYB Experiences

Andriani remembers her experiences with KCYB and working with different choreographers fondly. She says it was constantly changing and always challenging. Working on classical variations, partnering and contemporary works allowed these younger dancers a safe space to make mistakes and learn from them on and off the stage.

“Taking ballet class is one thing but KCYB was that bridge between student and professional,” Miller says. “It was our chance to perform bigger name ballets.”

Maggie Andriani as Odette in Swan Lake for KCYB's Spring 2014 performances. | Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Maggie Andriani as Odette in Swan Lake for KCYB’s Spring 2014 performances. | Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

When she watches old DVDs from the performances, Andriani admits her dancing is far from perfect. “But I could see myself growing as a dancer every year. My favorite memory was dancing the white swan pas from Swan Lake with Cameron, rehearsed by Hyuk Ku Kwon. Kwon taught me so much about the importance of the tiniest movements making a big impact. Cameron and I were definitely challenged with the stamina and when we finally got to perform it for our last senior show it was really emotional in a happy way,” she says.

The Opportunity

“I was happy when Kim [KCYB Director Kimberly Cowen] reached out to me because choreographing is something I started to become interested in during college, when we had a choreographic class,” Andriani says. “At Quixotic, sometimes we have choreographers come in to set pieces, but much of the time the other dancers and I collaborate to create our own pieces. So slowly I’ve been getting more experience. It’s something I’d like to continue doing, and I’m glad to have the opportunity at my former studio!”

When Cowen asked Miller about choreographing, it was after she’d attended his senior capstone performance at The Conservatory where he’d choreographed one of his own pieces.

Miller now teaches at competition dance schools in the evenings where he is building up his choreography chops.

“I have a degree in performance and choreography. That’s my end game—becoming a choreographer,” he says. “Creative, innovative, growing my own voice. I love the process. It’s fulfilling to have a piece of you out there at the end. It’s your baby.”

He is grateful for this opportunity and excited to see where he’ll go from here.

Cameron Miller | David K. Pugh Photography
Cameron Miller | David K. Pugh Photography

CAMERON Miller’s Work

Miller believes one voice can change the world. It’s an important message with younger generations. It’s one he admits he struggles with at times. “I hone in on that theme a lot with them,” he says.

He describes this work as taking place in a post-apocalyptic setting, grounded down to Earth where one thing motivates the next—a sort of structured improv. “It’s what I would have wanted to try at their age,” he says. His contemporary sock ballet is set on 17 dancers (14 women and 3 men) with 15 corps dancers and one featured couple.

The music is a subtle contemporary piano piece. “There’s a sorrow, a sadness and it’s full of emotion,” Miller says. “The undertone of strength and passion… I’ve been wanting to use it for a while now. “

“I hope that the students learn there’s a world outside of classical ballet. Don’t get me wrong. I love ballet. It’s wonderful. But I want them to know more styles because dancers need them, too, in many companies,” Miller says. “I also want them to know becoming a choreographer is an option someday.”

Maggie Andriani
Maggie Andriani

MAGGIE Andriani’s Work

Andriani’s biggest inspiration lately has been strong feminine voices, such as the recent rise in diverse women elected into office, and all of the strong women of the #metoo movement, including dancers in certain companies. So, she was really excited she’d be choreographing for 10 girls. The music she chose is from a very old, rarely performed Vivaldi opera called “Nisi Dominus”. “I liked the strong, singular female vocalist. She sounds haunting but also very powerful,” she says.

Her goal is for her choreography to show that femininity can be powerful and capable, but still beautiful. And she hopes the girls can start to realize the inner beauty in every single dancer. She believes unique beauty is the defining nature of their artistry, and they should own it! Andriani wants them to realize the power in their voice as dancers, because she feels like that voice has always been somewhat suppressed. She hopes to work in more collaborative, inclusive spaces.

“We’re almost done with the piece, so I’m eager to finish and spend the remaining rehearsals on details and movement quality. The girls have been really great in working with me on trying new things that I know are somewhat out of their comfort zone. We’re all learning a lot together,” Andriani says.

KCYB Performances April 5-7, 2019

The program features multiple ballets including Esmeralda, Spartacus pas de deux and brand new works by Maggie Andriani and Cameron Miller. Tickets go on sale March 1 here.

2019 YAGP Semi-finals Results

KCBS Students Jordan Noblett, Madeline Duritza, Claire Duritza, Colleen McKenzie, Juliette Rafael, Mina Vasiliya Stoyanova and Talia Lebowitz
KCBS Students Jordan Noblett, Madeline Duritza, Claire Duritza, Colleen McKenzie, Juliette Rafael, Mina Vasiliya Stoyanova and Talia Lebowitz

Kansas City Ballet School has now competed in Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) for four years—the last two years Kansas City has been the host. The competition took place at The Folly Theater downtown and the master classes were held at KCBS.

In 2019, KCBS submitted 71 solo entries, three pas de deux entries, and four ensemble entries for a grand total of 78 entries—up 15 entries from 2018. KCBS had students competing in every category. The Kansas City Semi-finals had 523 total entries.

“My favorite part of YAGP is seeing the progress in the students by the end of the year. And even though it is a competition, it feels like it brings us within our school and even the whole dance community together,” KCBS’s Principal and YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye says. “Lots of supportive energy and learning from one another!”

A total of 18 coaches and choreographers worked with the students for approximately 35 hours of rehearsals per week preparing for the competition. This was outside of their regular ballet and dance classes. The list of coaches and choreographers include: Racheal Nye, Dmitry Trubchanov, David Justin, Debbie Jacobs-Huffaker, Sean Duus, Danielle Fu, Lamin Periera dos Santos, Dillon Malinski, Amaya Rodriguez, James Kirby Rogers, Taryn Ouellette, Amanda Moder, Austin Meiteen, Jeremy Hansen, Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye, Andi Abernathy, Duncan Cooper, Courtney Collado, and Parrish Maynard.

KCBS Students Kaylee Meinholdt and Paisley Park
KCBS Students Kaylee Meinholdt and Paisley Park

APPRECIATION

The accomplishments of KCBS students in this competition would not be possible without the KCBS staff and faculty. So much more goes into YAGP behind the scenes than most people realize. Planning starts now (March) for next year, coaches are identified and paired with students over the summer, and rehearsals start in August.

“I want to thank every coach, student, and administrator involved! I also want to shout out to Racheal Nye, who manages the project,” says Kansas City Ballet School Director Grace Holmes. “She goes beyond the call of duty, spending hours finding the right coach and solo for each student, taking into account each student’s technical ability and learning style.  She also spends hours working on music, getting accounts sorted, and making sure students have costumes. At the event, she was there for every student in need, whether they were our students or not.  We appreciate her SO much for everything she does for KCBS!”

BEYOND COMPETITION

Grace Holmes said: “I am SO proud of all of our students who participated in YAGP this year.  We had students representing our Academy from both Evening and Daytime Programs.  Every student worked so hard to present their best work in their moment on stage.  It is gratifying as a teacher and director to see our students grow through the process of learning, refining and performing their pieces.  Watching them grow as artists and achieve their goals is what it is all about.”

In addition to performing well on stage KCBS students were wonderful ambassadors for KCBS and Kansas City. Holmes believes this to be as important as the event itself.

Holmes admits the ballet world is very small and KCBS students will find themselves working alongside people in the future, who they danced alongside in their past. At YAGP, it’s the students chance to learn not only to share the stage but to foster an openness with other students. She deems this strengthens the dance community as a whole.

“When we start working on YAGP, we let our parents know that for the School, the priority is on the learning and growth experience, and not the competition awards,” Holmes says. “The awards are a reflection of our students’ hard work, but KCBS is proud of every student who participates regardless of the outcome. We see how hard the students are working and how much progress they are making, and that is the true reward.”

2019 RECOGNITION AND AWARDS

The YAGP Finals will be in New York April 12-19, 2019. Kansas City Ballet School has had students invited for the last four years and hopes to again. Invitations will go out soon.

Below is the list of recognition Kansas City Ballet School and students received at this year’s YAGP Semi-finals awards ceremony:

 

Outstanding School 2019

 

Pre-Competitive Classical (41 total entrants)

3rd Place: Chloe Kim

Top 12: Kaylee Meinholdt, Paisley Park

 

Pre-Competitive Contemporary (29 total entrants)

3rd Place: Paisley Park

Top 12: Kaylee Meinholdt, Chloe Kim

 

Junior Classical (120 total entrants)

2nd Place: Kathryn Benson

Top 12: Lillie Barr

 

Junior Contemporary (78 total entrants)

2nd Place: Hannah Hudson

 

Senior Classical Women (118 total entrants)

2nd Place: Talia Lebowitz

Top 12: Hannah Zucht

 

Senior Classical Men  (118 total entrants)

3rd Place: Timothy TV Cao

 

Senior Contemporary (98 total entrants)

Top 12: Timothy TV Cao

 

Ensembles (29 total entrants)

3rd Place: Duncan Cooper Continuum

Top 12: Parrish Maynard Fractals

Top 12: Racheal Nye Nocturne


Pas de Deux (10
 total entrants)

1st Place: (Tie) Talisman-Hannah Zucht/Timothy Cao
and Remembrance-Juliette Rafael/Timothy Cao

 

PAST POSTS RELATED TO YAGP

2018 YAGP NY Finals Results

2018 YAGP Results for KCBS

KCBS Competes: 2017 YAGP Finals in NY

KC Hosts Youth American Grand Prix

 

2018-19 Dancer Profile: Sarah Joan Smith

Columbia, South Carolina native, Sarah Joan Smithjoined Kansas City Ballet in 2016

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

A: It’s exhilarating, fulfilling, inspiring and exciting but also tiring and taxing emotionally and physically.

Dancer: Sarah Joan Smith | Photographer: Kenny Johnson
Dancer: Sarah Joan Smith |
Photographer: Kenny Johnson

Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DANCE BAG ITEM AND WHY?

A: My wooden foot roller, because I use it between every combination, phrase or piece that I do.

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

A: I grew up in Kiev, Ukraine until I was 12 years old.

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

A: Travel, explore, cook, spend time with friends and family.

 

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

2018-19 Trainee Profile: Juliana Kuhn

2018-2019 KC Ballet Trainee and Second Company Member Julia Kuhn. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Trainee and member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second CompanyJuliana Kuhn is from Lenexa, Kan. This is her first year with Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company.

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCEr.

A: At first it was my mom taking me to ballet classes. But once I began to understand the incredible athleticism and the beauty in dance, I knew there was nothing else I would rather do. I love being able to express myself and grow in artistry while pushing the limit of what my body can do.

Juliana Kuhn (pictured third from left) dances during the snow scene in "The Nutcracker" (2018). Photo by Elizabeth Stehling.
Juliana Kuhn (pictured third from left) dances during the snow scene in “The Nutcracker” (2018). Photo by Elizabeth Stehling.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT DANCING? 

A: I love hanging out with my friends but I also love to read. It is such a good way to keep my brain engaged and I just love being sucked into another world found in a good book.

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

A: I had the opportunity to visit Japan last summer (2017). It was amazing and definitely a highlight of my life so far.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BALLET?

A: I love how meticulous and expressive it is. How you can say so much with such delicate and beautiful movement. I also love how it can affect people in such unique and diverse yet equally beautiful ways.

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: I think just to be present, in dancing and life. Often as dancers we go on autopilot and are always dreaming of the next goal. So it really struck me when I was told to always be present for the journey because otherwise you miss out on so much of the unexpected good.

 

Top Photo by Savanna Daniels.

Meet Two of Our ROAD Teaching Artists

Left–R.O.A.D. Teaching Artist Olivia Shaw at Crossroads Academy | Photography by Andrea Wilson. Right–R.O.A.D. Teaching Artist Jenna Wurtzberger at a R.O.A.D. Rally at Hartman Elementary School | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling
Left–R.O.A.D. Teaching Artist Olivia Shaw at Crossroads Academy | Photography by Andrea Wilson. Right–R.O.A.D. Teaching Artist Jenna Wurtzberger at a R.O.A.D. Rally at Hartman Elementary School | Photography by Elizabeth Stehling

Kansas City Ballet’s Reach Out And Dance (R.O.A.D.) Residency Program has been in community schools since the year 2000. But under April Berry, KCB’s Director of Community Engagement and Education, this program has expanded considerably over the last two years.

WHAT IS R.O.A.D AND ITS GOALS?

R.O.A.D. Residency programs use movement/dance to support the academic curriculum taught in many 3rd and 4th grade classrooms throughout the metro. The program currently serves over 20 schools in urban, suburban, and rural school districts in Missouri and Kansas.

Teaching artists from Kansas City Ballet’s Community Engagement and Education department teach weekly movement classes to hundreds of local 3rd and 4th grade students in their schools. Live music is provided in these classes by pianists from KC Ballet. The result is that students learn and retain new information and a different learning paradigm is created to support academic instruction.

The program has many goals. The introduction of various styles of movement and music is one goal; another is to incorporate basic principles found in dance such as: space, time, effort, cooperative learning, and self-discipline into the learning environment. Yet another is to incorporate exercises and games that support Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science curriculum.

WHAT IS A TEACHING ARTIST?

A Teaching Artist is different from a dance instructor. KCB Teaching Artists, also called artist educators or community artists, are responsible for teaching students in a wide range of community settings, the fundamentals of dance, and integrating dance concepts and principles related to movement with National and State Education Standards.

Two of our four R.O.A.D. Teaching Artists, Jenna Wurtzberger and Janie Olivia Shaw,  have been working in KCB’s R.O.A.D. Residency program for the past two years. Jenna and Olivia collaborate with KCB’s R.O.A.D. director and with classroom teachers to advance learning for their students. Both use the art of dance to reinforce academic studies within the classroom. They also stress the importance of creativity, critical thinking, improvisation, and communication.

Jenna is a dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. She has an undergraduate degree in dance and psychology from the University of Nevada and a master’s degree in dance from Temple University in Philadelphia.  Olivia has a degree in performance and choreography from Coker College in South Carolina. They have both studied dance and performed.

ON THE JOB

We asked them to talk about why they love their jobs as teaching artists at Kansas City Ballet.

Jenna has taught dance in many different settings; in dance studios, community centers, other dance residency programs in schools, and college dance programs. But she has never encountered a program like R.O.A.D. “The unique structure and approach to dance education are what makes this job at KC Ballet so wonderful. The curriculum is flexible enough to be able to incorporate my teaching philosophy while also valuing what the students have to offer. I get to share a room with expressive, talented, funny and loving students each and every day. I am beyond humbled to be able to share my knowledge and love of dance with this community,” she says.

“There are so many rewarding aspects of this job,” Jenna continues. “Some are small, such as a student with a huge smile walking into the room and telling you that they ‘love to dance!’ or telling you that they have been practicing the R.O.A.D. Chapter Dance in their backyard while their parents are watching. Some are much bigger, such as working with students who are non-verbal and they are communicating with their body just as effectively as their verbal peers or seeing the transformation of a student who is extremely shy and self-conscious to being the center of attention with confidence.”

R.O.A.D. Teaching Artist Olivia Shaw at Crossroads Academy | Photography by Andrea Wilson
R.O.A.D. Teaching Artist Olivia Shaw at Crossroads Academy | Photography by Andrea Wilson

Olivia notes that for her the most rewarding part about being a teaching artist is being able to give back to the community. “I am able to share my experience, training, and passion for dance with a diverse range of students and create relationships with the children I teach. The R.O.A.D. program provides an outlet for these kids through dance and helps them build confidence.”

Jenna admits there can be challenges. Keeping students interested in class and particularly students who think they do not like to dance are examples. “However,” Jenna notes, “these challenges of the job have pushed me to become a more creative and effective educator.”

Olivia feels this position has provided her an opportunity “to do what I love.”

EXCITING MOMENT

Engaging community schools, teachers, students, and their families, and igniting a passion for dance are other benefits of this program. This past December Jenna attended KC Ballet’s The Nutcracker and had an emotional experience. “I saw some of my R.O.A.D. students on stage at the Kauffman Center,” she said. “To see them sharing the stage with other talented dancers from Kansas City Ballet made my heart melt and was something I will never forget.”

Devon Carney Talks Lady of the Camellias

Kansas City Ballet’s Artistic Director Devon Carney shares some thoughts on the company’s upcoming performances of Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias Feb. 15-24 at the Kauffman Center.

The Choreographer

It’s a privilege for Kansas City Ballet to perform this landmark creation by the world-class choreographer Val Caniparoli—one of his signature works.

Caniparoli is no stranger to Kansas City Ballet. In February 2010, the company presented his Lambarena with its striking music, a mix of Bach and African rhythms. Then in May of 2017, our company performed his dramatic and intense ballet, The Lottery, based on Shirley Jackson’s shocking short story by the same name.

The Ballet

For Lady of the Camellias, his choreography demands a physical technicality and profound artistry from the dancers to express the breadth of emotion in this compelling story. It’s an intense artistic challenge and an opportunity for our dancers to develop true three-dimensional characters. We continue to raise the level of artistic content and thus, the quality of our artists. Building on this momentum keeps moving them forward, as we continually find productions to benefit both you, our audience, and our dancers alike.

In this particular ballet, our journey includes experiencing romantic interludes with Armand, a young countryman, and Marguerite, a famous courtesan as they become entangled in a forbidden affair. These two come from differing backgrounds and socio-economic levels, but they discover true love. At its heart, this is a story of love at its deepest and most sincere. And this strong romantic connection between these two characters makes this such a great story ballet—one that will surely endure for the ages.

Despite everything they experience, Marguerite has faith in Armand and hope for their life.
Love is indeed the greatest power one can experience in life.

Ultimately though, the forces working against them lead to heartbreak and loss. Of course, the
final scene rips your heart apart with such romance and compassion and yearning for what might have been.

Through it all, I’m reminded of this famous quote from George Sand: There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.

I couldn’t agree more.

 

Top photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Event Recap: An Evening with Ramona Pansegrau

Photography by Larry F. Levenson
Photography by Larry F. Levenson

Kansas City Ballet Bolender Society attended Lady of the Camellias or How I Fell in Love with Chopin at Age 4 with Music Director Ramona Pansegrau on January 24 hosted at the Carriage Club by Mike and Melanie Fenske.

The evening included special performances by mezzo-soprano Sarah Curtis and Second Company dancers with a cocktail and dessert reception.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Attendees enjoyed the musical portion of the evening and then heard Artistic Director Devon Carney’s exclusive announcement of Kansas City Ballet’s 2019-2020 season, which features Adam Hougland’s WORLD PREMIERE Carmina Burana, Devon Carney’s Swan Lake, Lila York’s Celts, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Edwaard Liang’s Wunderland.

For tickets or more information click here.

EVENT Photos

Kansas City Ballet's Second Company performed. Photography by Larry F. Levenson
Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company performed. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Angela Walker, Barbara Storm, and Ramona Pansegrau. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Angela Walker, Barbara Storm, and Ramona Pansegrau. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Joan Locke, George Langworthy, Ramona Pansegrau. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Joan Locke, George Langworthy, Ramona Pansegrau. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Doug and Karen Downing, Mathew and Jane Webster, Devon Carney, and KCBII Dancers. Photography by Larry F. Levenson
Doug and Karen Downing, Mathew and Jane Webster, Devon Carney, and KCBII Dancers. Photography by Larry F. Levenson
Diana and Rick Poccia and Ramona Pansegrau. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Diana and Rick Poccia and Ramona Pansegrau. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Steve and Cathy Doyal, Artistic Director Devon Carney and Pam Royal Carney. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Steve and Cathy Doyal, Artistic Director Devon Carney and Pam Royal Carney. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley and Bill and Ginny Shackelford. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.
Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley and Bill and Ginny Shackelford. Photography by Larry F. Levenson.