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.

2018-19 Trainee Profile: Katherine Clark

2018-2019 KC Ballet Trainee and Second Company Member Katherine Clark. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Katherine Clark is a Trainee and member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company. Originally from Columbus, Georgia, this is her second season as a Trainee.

Q: wHY DID YOU BECOME A DANCER?

A: I have always been a bit shy. I was drawn to the fact that I could speak through movement rather than words. From a young age I felt very attached to my work and was grateful that each day I had something to work towards. I also felt that, out of all professions, being a ballet dancer is my way of giving back and connecting with society. I guess the fear of a desk job is a good motivator.

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

A: I go to the gym and do Pilates. I also make sure I see a physical therapist if I notice an injury coming on.

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

A: I take college classes during my time off. I went to college for a year before I came to KCB. Since then I’ve been trying to work towards a degree slowly. I find it refreshing to take my mind off ballet and challenge my thinking in other ways. I usually come back re-inspired and have more knowledge to incorporate into my work at the studio.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? 

A: Peanut Butter

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: The best advice I have been given would be to “find beauty in your struggle and to trust the process.” I have faced many obstacles as a dancer, but I am really glad that I have. I see how those days forced me to grow artistically, mentally, and physically. You learn a lot when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and as artists we have to become comfortable with being so open.

 

Top Photo by Savanna Daniels.

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.

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: Grace Reed

2018-2019 KC Ballet Trainee and Second Company Member Grace Reed. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Trainee and member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second CompanyGrace Reed was born in New Mexico but grew up in Texas and Kansas City. She was invited to become a KCB Trainee while attending Kansas City Ballet School. 

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCEr.

A: Growing up, my brother (who now has a major in Piano Performance) was constantly practicing his piano pieces. You could always find me dancing around behind him as he played. Because my mom saw how inspired I was by my brother’s music, she decided to enroll me in ballet classes. Since then, I am still finding inspiration to dance.

Trainee Grace Reed front left with Kansas City Ballet Dancer Courtney Nitting front right in "The Nutcracker". Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
Trainee Grace Reed front left with Kansas City Ballet Dancer Courtney Nitting front right in “The Nutcracker”. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

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

A: When I am not dancing, I love to spend my time reading, knitting, exploring nature, or watching movies with my family. I love getting to dance, but sometimes you have to do “normal people” things to help you enrich what you get to do in the studio.

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

A: A current FBI agent once recommended that I look into pursing a career as an agent after viewing my marksmanship at the shooting range.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BALLET?

A: I always find new things to enjoy about ballet, even if I have seen a certain piece a hundred times. Ballet itself is always challenging me to accomplish things I never thought I could.

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: The best dancing advice I have ever received is from one of my teachers, Claudio Munoz. He once told me to “Dance like you’re wearing a Versace or Oscar de la Renta gown.” Because I love looking at gowns from those designers, it immediately made sense to me how I should carry myself during the certain piece he was coaching me on at the time. Since then, I have reminded myself of those words whenever I have felt unsure of myself while dancing.

 

Top Photo by Savanna Daniels.

2018-19 Trainee Profile: Sidney Haefs

2018-2019 KC Ballet Trainee and Second Company Member Sidney Haefs. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Trainee and member of Kansas City Ballet’s Second CompanySidney Haefs grew up in Santa Clarita, Calif. Sidney is a graduate of the University of Utah School of Dance where, in three years, she earned a B.F.A. in Ballet as well as a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. She performs as a snowflake, a flower and more during The Nutcracker performances through Dec. 23, 2018.

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCEr.

A: I started dancing when I was 3 ½ years old and then moved on to ice-skating! After a few years of skating, my mother, who had studied ballet through her young adult years, thought it best to transition me towards that path. At first I didn’t really enjoy it. I continued with it because I felt like there was something keeping me connected to the art form. After a while I started to enjoy the structure and self-discipline required to strengthen ones technique. After getting to perform in many productions with my home studio, I fell in love with how, as dancers, we are able to tell a story through movement. Then, when I attended Boston Ballet’s Summer Dance Program, I knew I wanted to pursue dance as a professional career!

Q: WHAT QUESTION DO YOU GET ASKED MOST ABOUT BEING A DANCER? 

A: I think the most common questions I get asked are: “Are your feet really ugly?” and “Doesn’t it hurt to dance on your toes?” Everyone always wants to see how my feet are holding up! I usually end up explaining how my toes have become so accustomed to the discomfort that after so long, pointe shoes just feel normal. It just takes time to find what works for you when it comes to the correct padding!

Q: WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?

A: Vanilla milkshakes seem to be my go to! These are definitely not that great for you, but they always seem to make me feel better.

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

A: Some of the ways that I cross train outside of the studio would be Pilates, cycling, and weight training! I try to stick with these modes of exercise because I really enjoy them which, in turn, keeps me motivated to actually do them after dancing so many hours a day!

Q: WHAT WAS THE BEST LIFE ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

A: One of my professors at the University of Utah told me to never let a bad performance get you down. I had fallen during a show and it was really devastating. You put in so much work to prepare for performances and the hardest part about live theatre is that anything can happen. She explained to me that I couldn’t let that moment onstage affect my work in the classes or rehearsals that followed. I just needed to pick my self up and keep moving forward. This was great advice because it really showed me that there is something to learn from both success and failure and without those experiences we cannot continue to grow as dancers and artists.

 

Top Photo by Savanna Daniels.

Trainee Profile: Tyler Ferraro

KCB Trainee Tyler Ferraro. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
KCB Trainee Tyler Ferraro. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Originally from Huntington Beach, Calif., Tyler Ferraro joined Kansas City Ballet as a Trainee for the 2017-2018 season. 

Q: how did you become a dancer?

A: I became interested in dance after taking a musical theater class. So, I started taking dance classes when I was 10 and soon focused on classical ballet.

Q: what do you enjoy most about being a dancer?

A: I have always enjoyed the combination of structure and creativity in dance. There are rules in technique that appeal to my methodical side but it is also important to express myself and make movements my own.

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

A: When I was younger, I spent a lot of time snowboarding and surfing.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA OR AFFIRMATION THAT YOU SWEAR BY?

A: You are enough.

Trainee Profile: Emma Fridenmaker

KCB Trainee Emma Fridenmaker. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
KCB Trainee Emma Fridenmaker. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Originally from Villa Hills, Ky. just outside of Cincinnati, Emma Fridenmaker joined Kansas City Ballet as a Trainee for the 2017-2018 season. This is her first season as a Trainee.

Q: how did you become a dancer? WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: It has always been my dream to dance professionally for as long as I can remember. I wanted to dance because my older sister danced and I wanted to be just like her. So, when I started preschool, I took the ballet class they offered there. Then the following year, I started my training at Cincinnati Ballet.

Q: what do you enjoy most about being a dancer?

A: I enjoy performing. I love being on stage and being able to really embody a character. I also enjoy the bond that is created between all the dancers.

Q: do you have hobbies or special interests?

A: I really enjoy making jewelry—back home, my best friend and I would make and sell jewelry to the kids in the Nutcracker cast. I also love baking. My specialty is chocolate chip cookies.

Q: WHAT ARE MOST PEOPLE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS A DANCER?

A: It is life consuming. Everything revolves around your future and your career.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA?

A: Be an encourager. The world already has enough critics.

Trainee Profile: Allison Rainford

KCB Trainee Allison Rainford. Photography by Savanna Daniels.
KCB Trainee Allison Rainford. Photography by Savanna Daniels.

Originally from Springfield, Ill., Allison Rainford joined Kansas City Ballet as a Trainee for the 2016-2017 season. This is her second season as a Trainee.

Q: how did you become a dancer? WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: When I was 8, a friend let me try her pointe shoes on. After that I just had to dance, so my mom enrolled me in classes.

Q: what do you enjoy most about being a dancer?

A: Performing! There is a feeling you get on stage that you can’t find anywhere else.

Q: do you have hobbies or special interests?

A: I really enjoy cooking and baking. I just find them really relaxing, plus you have delicious treats when you’re done!

Q: What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

A: I grew up on a farm.

Q: What do you enjoy most about kc and why?

A: I love the city! it’s a lot bigger than the town where I grew up, and I really like exploring it.