Dancer Profile: Javier Morales

Originally from Cuba, Company Dancer Javier Morales joined Kansas City Ballet this season.

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

A: My mom was a French teacher at the ballet school. I went with her and was watching the ballet classes. I liked it from the beginning. I started taking ballet classes in 1992 or 1993.

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

A: I enjoy dancing as if there was nothing more than the dance itself.

Q: do you have hobbies or special interests?

A: I am interested in the history of the world and the human conscience, massages and physical therapy.

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

A: I write stories.

KCB II Profile: Divya Rea

Divya Rea joined Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II this season. She is originally from Wheaton, Ill.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I was three when my mom enrolled me in a ballet class. I loved dancing and continued to train and pursue my dream to one day dance professionally.

Q: what ARE PEOPLE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS a dancer?

A: People are usually surprised to learn how much time and effort goes into being a dancer. The days are long and the work never truly ends. There is always something to perfect, even after training for ten years. However, everything is worth it when I step on stage.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AS WELL AS ARTIST, WHAT MAKES UP YOUR DIET AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: Cross training is important for me. In addition to dance, I do Pilates and run on an elliptical machine. I’m also always on the lookout for new workouts to try. This summer I enjoyed the workouts at Orange Theory Fitness. As far as nutrition goes, I make sure I fuel my body with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. My favorite dish to make is riced cauliflower with salmon and zucchini.

Q: DO YOU HAVE HOBBIES OR SPECIAL INTERESTS?

A: Outside of ballet, I enjoy playing the piano, learning about philosophy, and reading about new scientific discoveries. Piano has always given me a way to lose myself in music. Philosophy fascinates me because I enjoy pondering unanswerable questions, while reading about scientific breakthroughs offers evidence that some mysteries may someday be solved.

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

A: One of my first ballet teachers would always tell me to “be a shepherd, not a sheep.” This has been my personal mantra since the age of 8. It reminds me to do what I believe is right, even if that means breaking from what is popular.

KCB II Profile: Miranda Dafoe

Miranda Dafoe came to Kansas City Ballet in 2015 as a Trainee. Now she is dancing in her second season with Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I started taking classes when I was 3 years old. I haven’t stopped since!

Q: what ARE PEOPLE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR JOB AS a dancer?

A: They are surprised by how many shoes we go through! I’m lucky to make two pairs last a week and they cost about $80-100 a pair!

New Moves 2017. Miranda Dafoe is pictured in the front center. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
New Moves 2017. Miranda Dafoe is pictured in the front center. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AS WELL AS ARTIST, WHAT MAKES UP YOUR DIET AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: I eat a lot of veggies and protein. My snack during rehearsal is always an RXBAR. And of course, I like to treat myself to dessert every once in a while! As far as fitness goes, I focus on cardio and core work at the gym.

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT KC?

A: I love that coming from San Francisco, KC has that “big city feel” as a small city.

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

A: I’m half Russian!

Dancer Profile: Amanda DeVenuta

Company Dancer Amanda DeVenuta joined Kansas City Ballet at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: Once I was able to walk as a baby, I walked on my toes all the time. I wanted to do ballet from the start, and at 8 years old I knew this was what I needed to be doing.

Q: DO YOU HAVE HOBBIES OR SPECIAL INTERESTS?

A: I do. I have a ton! I think it’s important to be inspired by even the smallest of things, such as a jasmine bloom! I love writing poetry and I’m also really intrigued by the world of fragrance. I want to create my own perfume someday.

Q: AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE AS WELL AS ARTIST, WHAT MAKES UP YOUR NUTRITION AND FITNESS ROUTINE?

A: I’m pretty balanced with what I eat. I try and eat healthy main meals, but I definitely don’t deprive myself of doughnuts every once in a while! As far as extra fitness, yoga has strengthened my core while allowing me to focus on my breath getting to all of my muscles, especially fatigued ones. I also occasionally like to go to the gym or go on bike rides. Pilates is also a favorite.

New Moves Rehearsals. Dancer Amanda DeVenuta and Gustavo Ribeiro with Kansas City Ballet Dancers and Choreographer Mariana Oliveira. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling
New Moves 2018 Rehearsals. Dancer Amanda DeVenuta and Gustavo Ribeiro with Kansas City Ballet Dancers and Choreographer Mariana Oliveira. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling

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

A: They are surprised to learn that it never stops. Even when on a big layoff, for me, I never can take too much time off. I’m always trying to get stronger.

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA?

A: “Find the beauty in everything.” It is inspiring to be able to look at simple things/pleasures in life and appreciate them. Life is beautiful and when I get caught up in its chaos, it helps to remember the little things and to not overlook them.

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT KC?

A: Its appreciation for the arts! I love how many people support the ballet, opera and symphony here in KC! I also love that there’s always something exotic to try. Whether it’s a creative new restaurant, or an intimate house concert, museums or coffee shops. It truly is a hidden gem.

Dancer Profile: Lilliana Hagerman

Company Dancer Lilliana Hagerman began dancing with Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II in 2014. In 2015 she was promoted to a company apprentice, and she’s been a member of the company ever since.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I was born in Italy and grew up in lots of places. My parents put me in dance classes when I was 6 after returning to the USA. They said I would dance everywhere I went, so they decided to enroll me into dance classes.

KCB Dancers Lilliana Hagerman, James Kirby Rogers, and Amanda DeVenuta in The Sleeping Beauty. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
KCB Dancers Lilliana Hagerman, James Kirby Rogers, and Amanda DeVenuta in The Sleeping Beauty. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Q: as a professional athlete as well as artist, what makes up your diet and fitness routine?

A: I am a pescatarian. I eat meat every now and then. But I take vitamins every day. I also try not to eat unhealthy food, but every now and then it happens.

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

A: I had two hip surgeries when I was only 21.

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

A: When I dance there is no room for outside problems. So for the few minutes I’m dancing, I am completely blissful.

 

 

 

Dancer Profile: Goldie Walberg

In 2015 Goldie Walberg came to KC to be a member of KCB II. She was promoted this season to a Kansas City Ballet company apprentice. Goldie is a California native with dancing in her blood.

Q: WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I started dancing when I was 5 years old because my mom was a a dancer and my grandma owned her own dance studio.

Dancers: Goldie Walberg and Cameron Thomas. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios
Dancers: Goldie Walberg and Cameron Thomas. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

Q: as a professional athlete as well as artist, what makes up your diet and fitness routine?

A: It is extremely important to cross-train. I love working with a personal trainer at the gym.

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

A: Something most people wouldn’t know about me is that I could eat a cheeseburger for every meal for the rest of my life.

Q: If you find you have an unexpected hour free, what would be your ideal way to spend it?

A: It depends on the day… but I love a good nap!

 

 

 

Dancer Profile: Sarah Joan Smith

Company Dancer Sarah Joan Smith is dancing her second season with Kansas City Ballet.

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

A: I grew up in Eastern Europe and ballet was a class you took in school. My teacher told me I should pursue it. I did and love it.

Kansas City Ballet Dancers Sarah Joan Smith and James Kirby Rogers. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Sarah Joan Smith and James Kirby Rogers. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

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

A: I enjoy hearing from an audience member that I conveyed a feeling or emotion to them just through the expression of dance.

Q: do you have hobbies or special interests?

A: Traveling. I love experiencing different cultures and people.

Q: as a professional athlete as well as artist, what makes up your diet and fitness routine?

A: I usually try to consume as much food as possible to maintain the energy I need—a lot of fruits, veggies and peanut butter! I do Pilates and yoga once a week as well as swimming, biking and strength training multiple times a week in addition to daily company ballet class and rehearsals.

Q: do you have a personal mantra or affirmation? if so, what is it?

A: I always say “In with faith and out with His peace” and take a deep breath before I enter the stage.

 

Dancer Profile: Taryn Mejia

Company Dancer Taryn Mejia is a former Kansas City Ballet School student. She danced at New York City Ballet before returning to Kansas City to dance for Kansas City Ballet these last six seasons.

Q: HOW DID YOU BECOME A DANCER? AND WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I started ballet when I was 3 and I haven’t stopped since—except to have my daughters.

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

A: I have my degree in child development and psychology.

"The Four Temperaments" today - KCB Dancers Taryn Mejia and Tyler Savoie
“The Four Temperaments” today – KCB Dancers Taryn Mejia and Tyler Savoie

Q: as a professional athlete as well as artist, what makes up your diet?

A: During the season I need lots of red meat to help my muscles recover. I also drink lots of kombucha and coconut water.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories from working here at KCB?

A: The best memories are those made dancing with your friends. A wise dancer I look up to once told me, “It’s not the roles you dance, but the friends you dance with that make the most satisfying careers.” I am finding that more true with each year.

 

Dancer Profile: Enrico Hipolito

Company Apprentice Enrico Hipolito began his first season with Kansas City Ballet this fall. Learn more about the Seattle native below.

Q: HOW DID YOU BECOME A DANCER? AND WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?

A: I started dancing when I was 8 years old through an outreach program called DanceChance provided by Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB).

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

A: What I enjoy most about being a dancer is expressing myself through physical movement. I enjoy the adrenaline from the physical demands, yet I love the purpose and feeling behind the movements.

Q: What are People most surprised to learn about your job as a dancer?

A: People are most surprised about the hours put in for a dancer’s job and the fact that ballet companies usually have a mixed repertory of classical and contemporary works.

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

A: I’m Filipino American and I love taking naps.