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.

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

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.

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 Dancer Profile: Taryn Mejia

Kansas City native, Taryn Mejia, began taking lessons at Kansas City Ballet School at age 3. She studied ballet at KCBS and The School of American Ballet before joining New York City Ballet. She joined Kansas City Ballet in 2012

Q: WHY DID YOU BECOME A DANCER?

A: I was always dancing around my house as a kid.

JCCC’s New Dance Partners September 2017 – Kansas City Ballet performing “The Uneven” choreographed by Matthew Neenan. Photo, Copyright 2017 Mike Strong, kcdance.com with full usage permissions for the companies and dancers

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

A: My foam roller. So many little aches and pains are from tight muscles that can be easily rolled out.

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

A: I took six years off dancing to go to college and have children.

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

A: I like to go on outings with my children. We love Science City, Deanna Rose Farmstead, Powell Gardens, the Kansas City Zoo, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and Kaleidoscope to name a few. There is so much to do in this city and it’s a way to connect with my kids and the community.

 

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

2018-19 Dancer Profile: Emily Mistretta

Kansas City Ballet Dancer, Emily Mistretta, joined the company in 2016. She is thrilled to debut as the ravishing courtesan, Marguerite, in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias Feb. 15-24, 2019 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

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

Q: WHAT WERE YOU FEELING/THINKING WHEN YOU FOUND OUT YOU’D BE DANCING THE ROLE OF MARGUERITE? 

A: I was so excited  when I heard I was being considered for the role of Marguerite. I performed in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias when I was still dancing with Boston Ballet and fell in love with the ballet and especially her character. I would watch every night from the wings the end scene of Marguerite in her room alone. It’s so transporting.

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

A: I’m most looking forward to the acting aspect of the ballet. I have always loved the side of ballet that tells a story and lets you really become somebody or something else. It’s exciting getting into her character and persona, trying to find the different layers of her and attempting to portray that to the audience.

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: HAVE YOU EVER DANCED IN ANY OF vAL cANIPAROLI’S BALLETS?

A: I danced in Val Caniparoli’s The Lottery during my first season with KCB. I played the role of Mrs. Summers who struggles to go against the grain of the rest of society. It was a somewhat dark ballet to dance. I really enjoyed that intensity.

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT REHEARSALS?

A: I enjoy the work itself. Getting into the gritty details and figuring out what works best for me. It’s a discussion and a discovery that kind of unfolds. I kind of have to go through the muck and figure it out, but when I do it feels so rewarding.

 

Top Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios