Kansas City Ballet

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Peter I. Tchaikovsky wrote three classic ballets, but until now, the Kansas City Ballet has only performed two of them: Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Besides completing its repertoire of Tchaikovsky ballets, the company's premiere of The Sleeping Beauty is a case study in how setting a ballet to the great composer’s music requires changing it.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The Nutcracker is a local, and international, holiday tradition. How has the long-running performance transformed over the years here in Kansas City? We reflect on the old and consider the new, with local dancers, choreographers and directors.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A few weeks before The Nutcracker is scheduled to open, in a rehearsal studio at the Kansas City Ballet’s Bolender Center, dancers Amaya Rodriguez and Liang Fu run through the steps for the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Shakespeare’s romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream revolves around the mishaps of two mortal couples, as well as the king and queen of the fairies, Oberon and Titania. An oft-quoted line provides a summary of the plot: "The course of true love never did run smooth."

The Kansas City Ballet's production, choreographed by Bruce Wells, tells the story of magic and mistaken identities — through movement and music. 

Here are five things to know about the production: 

1. There's a 30-year connection

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For five years, the sounds of violins strumming, ballet slippers prancing, and opera singers hitting high notes have filled the performance halls of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. In a live broadcast from the iconic structure's massive foyer, Up to Date visits some of the people who make it all possible.

Guests:

There's always that one friend whose obsession leaks into every conversation. Wendy Perron, dancer, choreographer, and writer, says, "I'd be talking about dance so much that friends would say, 'Just shut up already.'" Despite the advice, Perron has built a career around documenting changes in dance and choreography since the 1970s.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As they rehearsed for an upcoming performance in the apocalyptic “Rite of Spring,” two dancers in the Kansas City Ballet recently got advice from the legendary ballerina who’d helped create the role.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The ballet Swan Lake is a tragic love story. A beautiful princess, Odette, is under a spell, and, by day, turns into a white swan. A handsome prince falls for her, but then he’s tricked into pledging his love for an evil witch, Odile, the black swan. And the spell cannot be undone. 

Veteran dancer Cynthia Gregory made her debut as Odette/Odile in 1967, at the age of 20, on tour with the American Ballet Theatre in San Francisco.

A Year In The Arts In KC

Dec 23, 2015

This was the year the Kansas City Ballet re-imagined “The Nutcracker.” Henry David Thoreau and Barbra Streisand got theatrical treatments, and the Kansas City Symphony had a variety of soloists. On this edition of Up to Date, we turn a critical eye to the arts in the Kansas City area this year.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The coming of the holidays typically means more time with family, which is the best gift to give or receive.

Even so, extra family time can contribute to holiday stress – whether it’s dealing with bored kids on Christmas break or hosting relatives you haven’t seen since the last time you felt this frazzled.

Happily, the holiday season also comes with family friendly entertainments and attractions that provide an alternative to being cooped up with dear ones who might be driving you crazy. I said, might. Whew, that was close.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The mood was intense on Wednesday at the final dress rehearsal for the Kansas City Ballet's world premier of "The Nutcracker."

After nearly two years of planning and collaboration, with artisans from all across the country, artistic director Devon Carney was finally ready to bring his new creation to the stage of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

For more than three decades, Kansas City audiences have gathered at the holidays to watch the classic ballet, The Nutcracker. This year, though, they'll be getting something much different.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye counts out the beats as he directs three dancers darting across the floor in a rehearsal room.

Earlier this year when Jolicoeur-Nye created a pas de deux for Kansas City Ballet’s “New Moves” showcase set to the music of composer Max Richter, it caught the eye of Kansas City Dance Festival’s co-artistic director Anthony Krutzkamp. The two decided to collaborate on a larger work for the festival this weekend that they’re calling "Richter Scales."