Kansas City Ballet

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The two-act ballet Giselle premiered in 1841. Today, this story of a peasant girl who falls in love with a nobleman in disguise is considered a classic. There’s a love triangle, a mad scene, and ghosts who dance men to death.

Giselle as a 'personal experience'

At the Bolender Center on a recent afternoon, Kansas City Ballet rehearsals were underway for Giselle. It's the first act when Giselle, a young peasant girl, falls in love with Albrecht, a nobleman disguised as a peasant. Here’s the problem – the village gamekeeper, Hilarion, is also in love with Giselle.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Nutcracker, with choreography by Todd Bolender, has played a role in the holiday season for Kansas City audiences since 1981. But, on Christmas Eve, the curtain falls for the last time on this version of the production.

The Sugar Plum Fairy lightly takes center stage in a gold tutu at the final dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  

Julie Denesha / KCUR

In the depths of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, small herds of children passed racks of snowflake and flower costumes Wednesday night as they made their way to dressing rooms just before Kansas City Ballet’s final dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

One character in the Kansas City Ballet's new production of Alice (in wonderland) is not a dancer -- but requires seven dancers to move: the Jabberwocky, a silver-scaled beast with a sprawling 25-foot wingspan.

Early in the rehearsal process, the ballet's artistic director, Devon Carney, brought in Paul Mesner, founder of Paul Mesner Puppets, to stage the puppet work and teach the dancers a few tricks of the trade.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Under the watchful eye of Kansas City native David Parsons, 10 young dance students worked on perfecting dance steps from two very different Parsons works -- Nascimento and Whirlaway -- this week at the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity. Parsons teamed up with Kansas City Ballet to bring his intense workshop to Kansas City after touring the facility with his father last year.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This weekend, the second annual Kansas City Dance Festival gets under way, assembling dancers and choreographers from the local, national and international stage.

A recent rehearsal found dancers Logan Pachciarz and Molly Wagner working on a pas de deux under the watchful eye of departing Kansas City Ballet ballet master James Jordan, as they honed both steps and expression during a walk through of the late Todd Bolender’s "The Still Point."

Julie Denesha / KCUR

After nearly three decades with the Kansas City Ballet, Ballet Master James Jordan has accepted the same post with The Sarasota Ballet as of the 2014-2015 season.

Devon Carney, the Ballet's artistic director, said in a news release that Jordan's national reputation as a stager of Anthony Tudor ballets led to the Florida connection.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A blowing March wind on Thursday roared outside the windows of a rehearsal and performance space in the Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity. Ilya Kozadayev, a former soloist with Houston Ballet, watched intently from the audience as a group of six dancers from the Kansas City Ballet moved without music. For long stretches of time, only the sound of occasional claps and feet upon the floor could be heard as they went through the motions of a final tech rehearsal.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

It's been nearly 120 years since the publication of Bram Stoker's gothic novel Dracula. But his tale of the Count, who stalks living creatures and survives on their blood, continues to this day to be interpreted and popularized in theater, television, film, and dance. This season, the Kansas City Ballet is staging choreographer Michael Pink's Dracula, based on Stoker's classic work.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Many ballets often depend on the concept of tension, whether in the muscles of the dancers or the story itself. That may be even more evident in the Kansas City Ballet's production of Dracula, opening this Friday.

In bringing the iconic character to the stage, the company is venturing to its dark side with a production that is the first in the Ballet's history to come with parental discretion advised. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This year, the Owen/Cox Dance Group is bringing its annual jazzy adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King to the Polsky Theatre at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan.

Returning to perform in the production is a powerful dancer with an explosive name: Winston Dynamite Brown. A frequent guest artist with the group, Brown says he relishes his role as the Nutcracker.

Growing into an explosive name

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This year, the Kansas City Ballet launched a second company called KCB II. It’s a selective program – there are only five dancers in the ensemble – and they're charged with taking dance out into the community.

Creating a role for dance in the community

Photographer Steve Wilson for the Kansas City Ballet / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Each year in December, like many other companies, the Kansas City Ballet puts on a production of The Nutcracker.

But this year the Kansas City Ballet has a new leader at the artistic helm, Devon Carney.

Carney joins us to speak about this holiday classic and how he keeps it fresh for himself and the audience.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Ramona Pansegrau is a musician whose life has been shaped by dance. This marks Pansegrau's seventh season as both the music director and the conductor for the Kansas City Ballet. And, after three decades of working with dancers, she says creating wonderful moments on stage still gives her a thrill.

Preparations are crucial

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City Ballet's new artistic director, Devon Carney, begins his tenure with a world premiere. His work, Opus I, will open the ballet's season this month, and it provides a hint of the vision he has for the company.

Interview Highlights: Devon Carney

On his new work Opus 1

Charles Stonewall/owencoxdance.org

It's the ultimate collaboration for three dancing companies in Kansas City. The Kansas City Ballet will join forces with Owen/CoxDance Group and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance to present a triumvirate of original work .

On Friday's Up to Date, we talk about why this collaboration is so groundbreaking and what it means for dance culture in the city.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A festive crowd gathered Saturday evening at Roanoke Park with blankets and lawn chairs for the 15th Annual "Dance in the Park" presented by City in Motion Dance Theater. Local companies presented a diverse range of dance ranging from modern to classical ballet, and East Indian to Afro-Brazilian capoeira.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

To celebrate the opening of the 2013-2014 season, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Kansas City Ballet threw open their doors to scores of First Friday crowds. 

Courtesy of the Kansas City Ballet

The Kansas City Ballet is joining other dance companies around the country – from Boston Ballet to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – to create a training ground for young dancers: a second company. 

Devon Carney, newly appointed artistic director of the Kansas City Ballet, described the second company, Kansas City Ballet II (KCB II), as a "natural next stage of development," based on the Ballet’s growth in recent years.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The work of iconic Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is on display this summer at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. They’re part of an exhibit called Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Masterpieces of Modern Mexico.

Kahlo and Rivera are known not only for their paintings, but for their tempestuous marriage, which sometimes influenced their art.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

For most dancers, the off-season is a time of rest and recuperation from the rigors of performance. But six months ago, Kansas City Ballet dancers Anthony Krutzkamp and Logan Pachciarz began to plan a more ambitious summer break.

Art is not always easy

Peter Mueller

After an extensive search process, the Kansas City Ballet has a new artistic director. Dancer, choreographer and teacher Devon Carney begins his new post in July. Carney succeeds outgoing artistic director William Whitener.

Peter Mueller

The Kansas City Ballet has named Devon Carney as the company's new artistic director. For the last decade, Carney has worked with Cincinnati Ballet; since 2008, he's served as associate artistic director.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This marks Artistic Director William Whitener's final season with the Kansas City Ballet. After 17 years with the company, he's preparing to return to New York. Whitener answered a few questions before the final performances.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

William Whitener became Artistic Director of the Kansas City Ballet in 1996.  After having staged, taught, acquired, commissioned or created 85 works for the organization and seeing it move into its new rehearsal and performance spaces, Whitener now prepares to leave the Ballet and embark on yet another chapter in his remarkable career.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City Ballet tops off its 55th season with a playful mix of dance.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Choreographer Karole Armitage, a native of Lawrence, Kan. says artist Jackson Pollock can be viewed as "a metaphor for the creative process"; his lines of dripped and poured paint are like a dance. Kansas City Ballet concludes its season with a world premiere by Armitage, exploring the intersection between art, jazz, and dance.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

In the 1920's and into the early 1930's, there was a thriving gay culture in Europe, especially in Berlin. But, with the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, that all changed.

Looking for some fun (and the luck of the Irish) the weekend of March 14-17, 2013? Brian McTavish returns with the Weekend To-Do List.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City Ballet’s "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a Shakespeare comedy performed in dance. The process of developing a character through movement and pantomime is one that often takes a close collaboration between dancer and choreographer.

Pages