Richard and Gay Found a Tax-savings Way to Help Kansas City Ballet

Professors Richard Jensen and Gay Dannelly recently moved to Kansas City after retiring from academia at the University of Notre Dame.

For Richard, he was finally returning to his hometown after decades away. For Gay, who grew up in California and spent much of her adult life in the northern Midwest, Kansas City promised a new adventure with exciting new cultural offerings such as a resident ballet company and a symphony.

Gay taught Richard about the importance of ballet. “I love the music and the grace,” she says. “The way it brings everybody in the audience practically into the process.”

Her enthusiasm was contagious.

Having a background in gymnastics as a kid, Richard could appreciate the ballet and especially the athleticism involved. So, the arts became a natural focus for supporting both in attendance and financially. And the Kansas City Ballet quickly captured their attention.

A HISTORY OF GENEROSITY

“We have always had a long-standing commitment to generosity,” Richard says. “We came from not-wealthy backgrounds and inherited nothing. As most people know being academics is not really a way to build wealth, but we were more successful than average. We felt it was appropriate to give back and we essentially have long had the policy of donating 10% of our take home pay.”

WHY IRA DONATIONS?

“In our case we’re currently giving most of our charitable donations from the IRA because they won’t be taxed,” Richard admits. “Once you’re required to take a distribution, it makes more sense to donate directly from your IRA than to take the distribution, pay taxes, and have less left to donate.”

Before they retired, Richard says they were clueless about donating IRAs to avoid taxes. “We were busy working. And I wasn’t aware that you could make an IRA donation directly, without paying the taxes until a friend told me,” he says.  “The light bulb went on. We’ve been doing it that way since then.”

“If the government said: This is your tax obligation, pay us or give it to some charity,” Richard says, “then I want to make the choice. I just want to support what I want to support. I’m sure I’m not alone. Many people would rather make that decision themselves.”

FINANCIAL PLANNING CAN BE A CHALLENGE

After spending 45 years as an economist, Richard felt he was capable of doing his own planning. Though he admits it was complicated even for somebody like himself.

“I remember when we first moved into retirement, I spent weeks trying to figure out what we were going to be earning and what tax bracket it was going to put us in and what we needed to do to avoid penalties,” he says. “I have a PhD in Economics and it took me weeks to do this! What does an ordinary person do?”

He suggests reaching out to your Financial or IRA Advisor but notes that donations out of IRAs don’t have to be limited to the required minimum distribution, they can be up to $100k per year, per person.

WHY KANSAS CITY BALLET?

The couple admits they just liked the people they met, the things the ballet was doing and the atmosphere. It was a perfect fit.

They attended a presentation on “The Business of Ballet” which pointed out that programming a season is a trade-off between what Devon, as the artistic director, would really like to do and what the organization can afford to do. Richard and Gay see their role is to help the ballet with what they can afford to do so they can perform what they want to.

“Artistic rights are part of it. They’re not cheap,” Richard says. “It was clear from Devon that was a constraint for him. You don’t want your artistic director to be any more constrained than necessary. Devon also described that to keep the best dancers you have to perform more than just the classics.”

Richard insists that watching a recording is not the same as seeing it in person and Gay agrees.

“Seeing it in person is a remarkable experience in motion, especially if you haven’t been to ballet before,” Gay says. “I hope the ballet stays strong and continues to bring in the best dancers.”


We would gladly assist you with ways to make a gift that is meaningful to you and has a lasting impact for Kansas City Ballet. Please contact Rebecca Zandarski at 816.216.5597 or rzandarski@kcballet.org.

Behind the Scenes: Lady of the Camellias

Dancers Kaleena Burks and James Kirby Rogers with Emily Mistretta and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Dancers Kaleena Burks and James Kirby Rogers with Emily Mistretta and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

Kansas City Ballet dancers are busy rehearsing in the studios. They perform Val Caniparoli‘s Lady of the Camellias Feb. 15-24 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Set to Frédéric Chopin’s romantic score, Alexandre Dumas’ love story makes its triumphant Kansas City premiere. The story inspired popular adaptations including Baz Luhrman’s movie Moulin Rouge! and Verdi’s opera La Traviata.

REHEARSAL FOOTAGE

REHEARSAL PHOTOS

Dancers Emily Mistretta and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Dancers Emily Mistretta and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Dancers Emily Mistretta and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Dancers Emily Mistretta and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

DANCER PROFILES

Learn more about the dancers in the lead roles of Armand and Marguerite.

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

2018-19 Dancer Profile: Lamin Pereira dos Santos

Kansas City Ballet Dancer, Lamin Pereira dos Santos, joined the company in 2014. Since then, he’s performed a number of principal roles in ballets from Albrecht in Giselle to Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty. This will be his second time performing in a ballet by choreographer Val Caniparoli. In 2017, he performed in Caniparoli’s The Lottery, based Shirley Jackson’s short story by the same name. He is thrilled to debut as Armand in this production of Lady of the Camellias Feb. 15-24, 2019 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Q: WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO WITH REGARDS TO LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS?

A: I am definitely looking forward to performing this beautiful ballet with the most amazing piece of music composed by Chopin. Really, it’s a dream come true and I could not ask for better.

After being a super in ABT’s Lady of The Camellias back in 2010 and being fortunate enough to watch the company rehearsals performed by super stars Julie Kent, Marcelo Gomes, Roberto Bolle and Diana Vishneva in the principal roles of Marguerite and Armand I completely fell in love with the ballet and its story. But overall the acting and drama play a big part in it. And that’s why I love it so much.

During those rehearsals I witnessed so much emotion, love, drama and sadness. It helped me see ballet in a different way. At the end of rehearsals fellow dancers were in tears because the were touched by what they saw and felt. Right away I wanted to do the same and touch people’s heart and inspire them.

Dancers Emily Mistretta and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Dancers Emily Mistretta and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

Q: HOW WILL THIS ROLE STRETCH YOU AND HELP YOU GROW AS A DANCER? 

A: This role will help me grow in many different ways. This time the challenge is a bit different and it goes beyond pirouettes and double tours. We all have technique, we all can do those things. But can you do that and act at the same time? I am so looking forward to performing a role different from the ones in classical ballet.

Q: HOW DO YOU GET INTO CHARACTER FOR THESE PRINCIPAL ROLES?

A: I get into character for these principals roles by listening to what the stager is passing on to me throughout the rehearsal process. I also do my own research by watching videos of dancers that I look up to and by recording my rehearsals whenever is possible so I can look for mistakes and for details that can add to telling the story perfectly. Finding the right resource is crucial to expending my knowledge.

Q: WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU ARE PARTNERING?

A: To be honest, I think about what is happening exactly at that moment in the drama. It helps to not think about what’s going to come up next in the ballet such as the next scene or next act. It will all happen naturally.

Dancers Emily Mistretta & Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography: Kenny Johnson.
Dancers Emily Mistretta & Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography: Kenny Johnson.

Q: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE OUTSIDE OF THE STUDIO TO PREPARE FOR THIS ROLE?

A: As part of my physical training for this role, I am at the gym at 6:00 a.m. for a workout designed to improve my strength and stamina. When the show opens, I’ll perform a ten-minute pas de deux with lots of lifts, so I have added more to my routine in the gym to prepare. A lot of times people don’t realize what it takes to be a male ballet dancer and make everything look graceful, effortless and lift ballerinas over our heads.

Q: WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR YOU TO BE SATISFIED WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE?

A: It is hard to be completely satisfied because every performance will be different. It’s never going to be perfect every time! But going on stage with confidence, commitment and passion will make me satisfied. You just have to embrace the role 100% for sure and let your experience and artistry take over the stage and the moment. Everything will fall into the right place.

 

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios