Originally from Iowa, where she began her dance training, Layne-Mulhern’s family moved to Kansas City in 2001. She continued her training at Somerset Ballet Centre (SBC) in Prairie Village. SBC was acquired by Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) as a second campus the following year. Two of her teachers that first year were Kimberly Cowen and Maureen Hall. Cowen danced with Kansas City Ballet for 20 years before retiring in 2012 to join the faculty of Kansas City Ballet School and Hall is still a member of KCBS’s faculty. Two other major influences from the KCB were former principal dancers under Todd Bolender, Lisa Thorn Vinzant and Sean Duus. Thorn Vinzant is now Ballet Master for Orlando Ballet and Duus still teaches at KCBS in addition to working in the KCB Community Engagement and Education Department.
Layne-Mulhern started teaching dance as a teenager, and taught her first class at KCBS when she was in her early 20s. “Teaching just seemed very natural,” she says.
Expanding Dance Education
As an aspiring dancer in her 20s, Layne-Mulhern performed with some of the smaller KC dance companies but also moved to New York for a couple of years to pursue performing opportunities as a freelance dancer.
Other very formative experiences as a ballet teacher came about while she was living in New York. Layne-Mulhern completed American Ballet Theatre’s ballet teacher training program for all levels of ballet students, became a certified Pilates instructor, and attended an intensive anatomy workshop at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “All of those things helped me grow exponentially as a teaching artist, and I still draw on those experiences, while continuing to build on them as much as possible. I definitely strive to be a lifelong learner,” she says.
When she returned from New York, she came back to teaching at KCBS.
Teaching in the Academy
Over the years, Layne-Mulhern has taught every level of the Academy at KCBS, either as a regular teacher or a sub, but she currently teaches ballet, pre-pointe, pointe, and conditioning for Levels 3, 4, and 5. “Those three levels are so formative – the students have a solid foundation of knowledge, but they’re still learning new steps and perfecting many aspects of their technique,” she says. “They’re also rapidly developing as artists in these levels, and unlocking so much potential. It’s an exciting time for them as students, and it’s very inspiring to have the privilege of being their teacher. I expect a lot from myself as a teacher, and I expect a lot from my students; I want all of us to give 110% every class, every day.”
Teaching in the Studio Division
Adult classes are different. Layne-Mulhern tries to make ballet as accessible as possible in adult classes. “Ballet is absolutely for everyone. I like to say in my beginning ballet classes that you’re not going to just walk into your first class or two or three and be anywhere near perfect, and that’s really okay. Ballet is like so many other worthwhile challenges – learning to play an instrument, learning to speak a foreign language – it takes time, work, and repetition to figure it out and move forward,” she says.
What does she enjoy about sharing ballet with students? “I find so much happiness in it, and I want to give that to other people,” Layne-Mulhern says. “I believe that dance will always be relevant and important. It has so much beauty and integrity and joy to offer the world, and the world will always need those things.”
Want to try her class?
Interested in taking an adult studio class with Taryn Layne-Mulhern? Check out the upcoming schedules here.