Celebrating Dance in Kansas City

The original brick smokestack was transformed into a skylight.

Kansas City Ballet is kicking off the season by opening its doors and offering free classes for children and adults. It’s also a chance to see what’s cooking dance-wise in the whole city. I love it when the various dance contingents in one city can work together, and Kansas Citians will see this kind of collaboration in action this Saturday, August 27.

This is the sixth year of KC Dance Day. It started shortly after the opening of the extraordinary Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity in 2011. The center houses seven beautiful studios for Kansas City Ballet and its school of 1800+ students, plus a 180-seat theater and administrative offices.

I was lucky to see the center last May when I visited the city. Wherever you are in that building, the views inside and outward are interesting. Originally a 1914 powerhouse that burned coal to generate steam and electricity, the building had been abandoned since the 1970s. KC Ballet employed a design team from BNIM to retain the old structures while providing open, expansive dance spaces, and the result is gorgeous in its functionality. No wonder people from all over the city flock to this building for KC Dance Day.

What they will find is free classes for kids in ballet, jazz, and hip hop, pre-ballet and creative movement for the very young, and a special class called Boys on the Move. Adult classes include Zumba, modern, ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz, flamenco and Pilates.

Kansas City Ballet in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Steve Wilson.

But KC Dance Day is not just about Kansas City Ballet and its school. It’s about the richness of dance all over Kansas City. So you can also see free demonstrations by AileyCamp Kids, the UMKC (University of Missouri, Kansas City) Conservatory Dance Ensemble and Kansas City Youth Ballet. Independent groups like Störling Dance Theater, Seamless Dance Theatre, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, Billie Mahoney Dance Troupe and Allegro Ballroom also get their 15 minutes in the sun. Then there’s the world dance contingent, with groups specializing in dances from Greece, Philippines, Spain and Ireland.

William Whitener, who was director of Kansas City Ballet at the time the Bolender Center was being built, says that KC Dance Day “was KC Ballet's gift to the local dance community…It was a way to support, acknowledge and generate enthusiasm for all kinds of dance in the local area.”

This year the folks who partake of this gift will also get to see a rehearsal of KC Ballet in Bruce Wells’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which opens Oct. 7 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, another architectural wonder. (It helps that Kansas City has an arts-loving mayor.)

For more information on KC Dance Day, click here.

Get more Dance Magazine.

Breaking Stereotypes
Lindsay Martell at a class performance. Courtesy Martell.

More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:

"Is your daughter the dancer?"

"Actually," I say, "I am."

"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"

"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."

Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Taylor Stanley in Apollo. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy New York City Ballet

You nominated your favorite dance moments so far in 2019, and we narrowed them down to this list. Now it's time to cast your vote to help decide who will be deemed our Readers' Choice picks for the year!

Voting is open until September 17th. Only one vote per person will be counted.

Keep reading... Show less
The USC Kaufman graduating class with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Gus Ruelas/USC

Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.

Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:

Keep reading... Show less
Teaċ Daṁsa in Michael Keegan-Dolan's Loch na hEala. Photo by Marie-Laure Briane, courtesy Walker Art Center

The 2019–20 season is here, and with it more performances than any one person could reasonably catch. But fear not: We polled our writers and editors and selected the 31 most promising tickets, adding up to one endlessly intriguing year of dance.

Keep reading... Show less


Get Dance Magazine in your inbox