2019-20 Dancer Profile: Sidney Haefs

Sidney Haefs, a Santa Clarita, Calif. native, started as a Trainee in 2018-19 and was invited to become an apprentice with Kansas City Ballet this season.

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCER.

A: I started dancing at the age of 3 1/2. My mother danced growing up and she always loved it so she enrolled me in ballet classes to see if I would enjoy it. I honestly did not like it very much at first! I think because I was a talkative child and this would get me into trouble during class! However, I really started to enjoy it as I kept up with it and from there I fell in love. It gave me confidence and pushed me to work hard to achieve my goals. I became a dancer because it was a language that spoke to me.

Sidney Haefs and Wojciech Ogloza performing in the Second Company @HOME in the spring of 2019. | Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Q: IS THERE SOMEONE SPECIFIC THAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR LIFE AND/OR CAREER?

A: I find inspiration more from the dancers I work with rather than just one specific person. Being able to watch these artists push their boundaries and strive to grow as movers and story tellers is a

beautiful thing to be able to experience. Each and every dancer in this company is unique and brings something different to the table and I think that in itself inspires everyone to work and grow not only as artists but as human beings.

Q: WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE 2019-20 KCB SEASON?

A: Everything! This season’s repertoire is very exciting. There is a mix of contemporary, classical, and neoclassical works. It is amazing to see the company pushed in so many different ways. As dancers, I believe we all love a challenge and this is a season that allows everyone to push their boundaries not only physically but artistically.

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

A: I try and incorporate Pilates as well as some weight training and cardio outside of our regular dance day. As ballet dancers, our bodies are expected to do a lot that isn’t always natural. Cross training allows us to work our muscles in a different way in order to help us stay strong. It allows us to keep our bodies balanced and not overwork our muscles in just one kind of way.

Top Photo by Tom Styrkowiz

2019-20 Trainee Profile: Priyana Acharya

2019-20 Trainee Profile: Priyana Acharya

Priyana Acharya, a native of Libertyville, Ill., joins the Second Company as a Trainee.

2019-20 Trainee Profile: Priyana Acharya

Q: TELL US WHY YOU BECAME A DANCER?

A: I started dancing when I was 2 years old. However, I started to pursue ballet more intensely when I turned 13 and started attending summer programs. I became a dancer because I enjoy being able to share a story with others. Most people expect someone to only be able to share a story through words, but dance allows you to express yourself through movement. This is one of the many aspects of dance that makes me continue to want to pursue this profession.

Q: IS THERE SOMEONE SPECIFIC THAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR LIFE AND/OR CAREER?

A: Yasmine Naghdi is one ballerina who truly inspires me! Her strength and artistic choices are incredible. She is also a very versatile dancer! Nowadays, it is important to be able to do any form of dance and perform it to the best of your abilities, which is exactly what Yasmine does!

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

A: I love taking Pilates and yoga classes because they are really good forms of cross-training. Yoga and Pilates classes help to strengthen your body so that you are able to work to your fullest and healthiest potential in class and rehearsals.

Q: WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE 2019-20 sEASON?

A: I am very excited for the amazing repertoire this season! From The Nutcracker to Swan Lake to Serenade…there is so much to look forward to this season. Also, I love the environment here at Kansas City Ballet because all of the faculty and staff are so welcoming, kind, and supportive. Everyone is one big family!

Top Photograph by Savanna Daniels.

2019-20 KCB II Profile: Fiona Lee

Fiona Lee started dancing at 5 years old at a little ballet studio in rural Montana that used to be an old horse tannery. She joins KCB II.

2019-20 KCB II Profile: Fiona Lee
Fiona Lee featured in Bruce Well’s “Pinocchio” with the Pacific Northwest Ballet School Photographer: Lindsay Thomas

Q: IS THERE SOMEONE SPECIFIC THAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR LIFE AND/OR CAREER?

A: I decided I wanted to be a ballerina at age 10 when KCB Ballet Master Kristi Capps guested at my studio as “Giselle”. I had never talked to a professional ballerina before, and I was immediately enamored with her. She was just as graceful in everyday life as she was onstage! I aspired  to be both as glamorous and as generous as her one day. She helped me to realize my goals for dance. I have never looked back.

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

A: I love watercolor painting! It is such a great way for me to decompress while creating something beautiful in the process. My favorite thing to paint are ballerinas because their tulle skirts turn out beautifully using this ethereal medium. I also love to cook. I actually grew up with an industrial-sized wood-fire pizza oven in my kitchen. My dad would use it to make homemade pizzas and bread every week. I developed most of my cooking skills with his guidance. Now I enjoy hosting my own dinner parties and cooking for my friends.

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

A: I do yoga twice a week to keep my mind and body balanced. Outside of that, I supplement with Pilates-based strength training and cardio sessions for my stamina. I also make time for hiking, swimming laps, and rock climbing because I love varying my workouts and staying active.

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT KC?

A: I’m obsessed with the Kansas City art scene. I love going to museums and galleries. The Nelson-Atkins and Kemper Art Museums are some of my favorite places.

Q: WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE 2019-20 sEASON?

A: I am super excited for The Nutcracker! Even though I have performed in some version of it nearly every year of my life, there is always a new magic whenever I come back to the ballet.

 

Top Photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

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.