dance

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.

Esther Honig / KCUR

On a Monday night at the Lee A. Tolbert gymnasium in Kansas City, 80 dancers ages 6-25 gather for one of two weekly practices of The Marching Cobras. 

In gym shorts and sneakers, the dancers break a sweat running through their routines. They move to the beats of a group of young drummers banging out a rhythm loud enough to make your ears pound.

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

Alvin Ailey was a choreographer who was born in Texas in 1931. He spent his pioneering dance career in New York City, touring internationally and transforming ideas about dance and race on the world stage throughout his life. He died in 1989, and yet, Kansas City dancers live and breathe Alvin Ailey in the 21st century. 

In recognition of the 30th anniversary of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey (KCFAA), Central Standard explores the dance philosophy of Alvin Ailey and his relationship with Kansas City. 

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

On Tuesday's Central Standard, we invited a variety of artists to discuss how their practice has evolved as they have moved from one stage of life to another.

As a ballet dancer embarked on retirement from the stage and into a teaching and choreographing role at the age of 32, he sat down with a visual artist who has more than forty years of studio experience and a legendary jazz saxophonist. The three compared notes across genres. 

Highlights:

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."

Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company

If you're looking for a variety of entertainment this weekend, look no further than Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for May 30-June 1.

Cher (pop diva), D2K Tour 2014, 8:00 p.m. Saturday at the Sprint Center, 1407 Grand, Kansas City, MO

Tickets: $45.50 to $105.50

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The modern pointe shoe has kept ballerinas on their toes since the early 20th Century.

Each delicate, custom-made satin and leather shoe endures a punishing routine that begins even before a dancer places a shoe on her foot.

As part of an occasional series called Tools of the Trade about performers and their relationship to the tools that make their work possible, I talked to members of the Kansas City Ballet about shoes.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Choreographer Victoria Morgan, artistic director and CEO of the Cincinnati Ballet, based her narrative ballet, Cinderella, on the classic story by Charles Perrault, as well as drawing on her own experience dancing the title role in previous productions. The Kansas City Ballet presents the work, which opens this weekend.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This weekend, the Kansas City Ballet presents a classic fairy tale, Cinderella. It's the story of a girl who's magically transformed for one night, and attends a ball where she meets her prince.

In choreographer Victoria Morgan's version, Cinderella's wicked stepsisters are played by two men, with a great deal of humor.

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. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

It was 30 years ago this year that Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey was created as a second home for the New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a modern dance company founded in 1958.

To mark this milestone, the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation on Friday issued a challenge grant. At $375,000, it’s the largest grant in the history of the Friends of Alvin Ailey.

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

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

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

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

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Alvin Ailey was an African American choreographer who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. For the past 25 years, Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey have held AileyCamp, a month-long session for junior high-age students, to honor Ailey's work.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Owen/Cox Dance Group, with pianist Kairy Koshoeva, performs its interpretation of The Goldberg Variations and brings its 2012-2013 season to a close.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

St. Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious holiday that takes place every March 17 – and it’s been embraced widely in America by descendants of Irish immigrants. Kansas City's celebration began early this year with the annual St. Pat’s Senior Ball.

Urban Empowerment Flash Mob

Sep 6, 2012
flickr / Aniket Thakur

It's not the first dance symbolizing a deeper message, but who knew one day we'd have something called the Urban League Slide?

On Thursday's Central Standard, we talk dancing, empowerment and flash mobs with Gwendolyn Grant of the Urban League of Greater KC.

courtesy of the Kansas City Ballet

The Kansas City Ballet announced late Friday that longtime artistic director William Whitener will step down at the end of the 2012-2013 season

US Air Guitar Regionals Come to KC: Meet The Oxygen Warriors

Jun 21, 2012
Alyce Henson

Air Guitar. It sounds like something you should only do in private, but it’s become an international phenomenon – a combination of sport, comedy, mime, and performance art, with ample hair tossing, fret scaling, and hip thrusting.

Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

When it comes to line dancing, most people think of country & western dances like the Boot Scootin’ Boogie. But in African American communities all over the country, “soul” line dancing is everywhere—at wedding and retirement receptions, nightclubs and parties.

Described as the "epitome of balletic grace," Kimberly Cowen is the one remaining Kansas City Ballet dancer hired by the late Todd Bolender, former artistic director. But, it's the end of an era.

courtesy of the Kansas City Ballet

The Kansas City Ballet is the first of the resident companies to announce its inaugural season at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Kansas City, MO – When the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opens in 2011, its three resident companies will include the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet.

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey

Ailey Camp is one of the legacies of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. It's more than a summer camp for kids who want to dance. Alvin Ailey started the camp with the idea that dance could be a vehicle for growth and personal development among the community's youth.