New Dance Partners.

New Dance Partners 2020 – Virtual Retrospective

September 18, 2020 - September 21, 2020 | Virtual Event

Past Event

Four choreographers and four local dance companies look back on past premieres of works in contemporary and modern dance. All were commissioned and premiered by the Midwest Trust Center at JCCC.

An original film showcases four local dance companies who participated in New Dance Partners over the years. We also shine the spotlight on each company’s artistic director and the choreographer who worked with them in interviews conducted during the “pandemic pause” by Michael Uthoff, New Dance Partners’ Artistic Advisor and Artistic Director of Dance St. Louis.

“The Heart Thieves” (2014)

Robert Moses, Choreographer
Performed by Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company (Mary Pat Henry, Artistic Director)

Program Notes Music: Michael Manring: “Helios,” “La Sagrada Familia,” “Selene” and “Theseus in the Rains”

Dancers: Jessica Higgins, Katie Jenkins, Alessandra Perdichizzi, Kevin Tate, Maleek Washington, Caroline Fogg (apprentice) and John Swapshire (apprentice) | Lighting design: Scott Bolman | Artistic advisor: Michael Uthoff

Choreographer Biography
Since founding Robert Moses’ Kin in 1995 in San Franciso, choreographer Robert Moses has created numerous works of varying styles and genres for his highly praised dance company. His work explores topics ranging from oral traditions in African American culture (Word of Mouth, 2002), the life, times and work of author James Baldwin (Biography of Baldwin, 2003) and the dark side of contemporary urban culture (Cause, 2004), to the nuanced complexities of parentage and identity (The Cinderella Principle, 2010) and the simple joys of the expressive power of pure movement (Toward September, 2009).

Moses has worked collaboratively with artists and organizations, including Julia Adam, Margaret Jenkins, Alonzo King, Sara Shelton Mann, Joanna Haigood, SoVoSo, Marcus Shelby, Keith Terry, Frank Boehm, Will Power, Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble, Bill Morrison, Ann Galjour, David Worm, Kid Beyond and Youth Speaks.

In addition to his work with Robert Moses’ Kin, he has choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey 2, San Francisco Opera, Philadanco, Cincinnati Ballet, Eco Arts, Transitions Dance Company of the Laban Center in London, African Cultural Exchange (UK), Bare Bones (UK), Oakland Ballet, Moving People Dance, Robert Henry Johnson Dance Company and many more. He has choreographed for film, theater and opera, with major productions for the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, New Conservatory Theater, Los Angeles Prime Moves Festival (L.A.C.E.) and Olympic Arts Festival.

Robert Moses’ Kin has received significant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, California Arts Council, San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund and San Francisco Foundation. The company is the recipient of three Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, the Bonnie Bird North American Choreography Award, the SF Weekly Black Box Award for Choreography, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award in Dance. RMK has performed at nationally esteemed venues such as the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Fall for Dance/City Center, Bates Dance Festival, Colorado Dance Festival and Black Choreographers Moving Toward the 21st Century. The company performs its annual home season at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Since 2005, Moses has been Artist-in-Residence and Artistic Director of the Committee on Black Performing Arts at Stanford University, where he has been on the dance faculty since 1995. A highly regarded master teacher and educator, he has taught on campuses and at festivals throughout the United States, including Bates Dance Festival, Colorado Dance Festival, Goucher College, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, University of Texas, and University of Nevada. Moses has been a returning guest artist at the Northwest Dance Project and a mentor with Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange (CHIME). He conducts movement and performance workshops internationally for artists of African descent with State of Emergency Limited in the United Kingdom.

Company Biography
The Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company has been hailed as one of the most exciting and captivating troupes in the Midwest. Wylliams/Henry has been spotlighted in Dance Magazine’s Critic’s Choice issue of “favorite picks across America” and in the National Endowment for the Arts 2008 Report. Presented by the company each season are works by internationally acclaimed choreographers such as David Parsons, Dwight Rhoden, Donald McKayle and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, as well as classics by some of the 20th century’s greatest masters such as José Limón, Hanya Holm and Anna Sokolow.

New works expressing important social issues from the Holocaust to racism are a hallmark of the company. Performances provoke thought and speak to the human spirit. WHCDC is known for its beautiful, athletic style in a repertory ranging from the lyric to the avant-garde. The troupe uses conventional and nontraditional spaces – often in partnership with community organizations – to introduce contemporary dance to new audiences. Wylliams/ Henry connects with a broad spectrum of individuals in both urban and rural communities, while presenting the most powerful and uplifting works from the rich archive of American modern dance.

Wylliams/Henry is proud to call Kansas City home and is honored to be “Artists-in-Residence” at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. The company has been honored by acceptance to the artist touring roster of the Missouri Arts Council, as well as the South Carolina Arts Commission and the Mid-America Arts Alliance touring programs.

Creative Team Biographies
Mary Pat Henry, Artistic Director
Mary Pat Henry has been the artistic director of the London Dance Collective and the Dance Edition in New York City. She has choreographed for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Radio City Music Hall, Off-Broadway, ABC’s television special “Kids Are People Too,” Victoria Arts Festival in Canada, Westminster Cathedral Royal Christmas Benefit for Save the Children Foundation in London, and dance and theater companies throughout Europe and the United States. Henry was recently invited to teach and choreograph at the Conservatory of Music in Tianjin, China, as the first Western dance artist-in-residence and to create a new work for the students for the May Festival in Tianjin.

In addition to teaching master classes for dance companies around the world, Henry was a member of the ballet faculty of New Jersey’s Garden State Ballet, the 14 Dance Theatre of Harlem, New York’s Feld Ballet and the 92nd Street Y in New York City, and was acting director of special programs for the Laban/Bartenieiff Institute in New York. Henry has also been on the ballet faculty of the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance and the Royal Academy of Dance in London, as well as the movement faculty for The Drama Center of London and the Italia Conte Theater Academy.

She has performed with the San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West, at Radio City Music Hall and the Inside/Out Concert Series at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. She has been a guest artist with the South Carolina Arts Commission, Virginia Arts Commission, New York Foundation for the Arts Commissions, New York’s Young Audiences, and in a variety of artist-in-residence programs.

Henry is a respected adjudicator for regional and national dance competitions in the U.S. and Canada. She has served on the board of directors for the American College Dance Festival Association and as a membership chairman for the Central Region. Henry is professor of ballet, associate dean of faculty affairs and former chair of dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.

She holds her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Utah and her Master of Fine Arts from Florida State University. She is the recipient of the 2007 Muriel McBrien Kauffman Award for Artistry/Scholarship, the 1996 Muriel McBrien Kauffman Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 1997 Alberta Dance Festival Teaching Award in Canada.

Michael Manring, Composer
Hailed by Bass Player magazine as “…the leading light among explorers of the bass guitar’s capabilities,” bassist and composer Michael Manring has appeared on hundreds of recordings and performed across the world in venues including Carnegie Hall, Yamaha Hall in Tokyo, and Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. He has two gold records, Grammy and Bammie nominations, a Berklee School of Music Distinguished Alumni Award, two Just Plain Folks Awards and numerous Bass Player Magazine Reader’s Poll awards, including 1994 Bassist of the Year. The San Jose Mercury News referred to Manring as “…a virtuoso electric bassist who’s almost single-handedly redefined the outer limits of the instrument,” and The Philadelphia Inquirer called him “…the hottest bassist today.”

Laura Powell, Costume Designer
Laura Powell is in her 18th year as wardrobe supervisor of the touring company of Radio City Christmas Spectacular. She constructs costumes for dance companies in the Kansas City area, including Wylliams/Henry. She is a member of Theatrical Wardrobe Union Local 810 and has a modern dance and theater degree from Texas Christian University. Tonight’s WHCDC costume design was done in collaboration with Robert Moses and Brendan Barthel.

Dancer Biographies
Jessica Higgins, a native of North Carolina, received her dance training at Raleigh School of Ballet. She has attended Boston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, NC Dance Theatre and Paul Taylor’s summer dance programs. Higgins graduated from Wright State University with a BFA in dance while performing with Dayton Ballet. Since graduation, she has danced with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II and Verb Ballets, and trained with Philadanco’s first company. Recently, she has danced with Buglisi Dance Theatre, Battleworks, Covenant Ballet Theatre, Albano Ballet, Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre, Forces of Nature, Ballet Noir, Neville Dance Theatre, and the Berlin Wall Project. Higgins feels blessed to be dancing with Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company again.

Katie Jenkins is a native of Kansas City and began her training at Graves Talent Company. She was a scholarship recipient of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York City and the Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. Jenkins started her professional career with Wylliams/Henry and has had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Milton Myers, David Parsons, Donald McKayle and Kevin Iega Jeff. She has been a member of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, City Dance Ensemble in Washington, D.C., and TILT Contemporary Dance Company in Maui, and spent four seasons with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in Denver. Jenkins graduated on scholarship with a BFA in dance from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is thrilled to be dancing again – her ninth season – with Wylliams/Henry.

Alessandra Perdichizzi is from Chicago and graduated with a BFA in dance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is a fairly new member of the Wylliams/Henry company after being an apprentice for two years. She looks forward to working with WHCDC.

Kevin Tate was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the Professional Performing Arts High School of NYC and is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Contemporary program. He has trained at Alvin Ailey, Creative Outlet, Pure Elements and Miami City Ballet, among others. Tate made his off-Broadway debut in Tony Kushner’s “Caroline, or Change” at the Public Theater in 2003, which moved to Broadway in 2004. Other theater credits include “Alice In Wonderland” and “Into the Woods” with Disney’s Musical Theater International. Tate has been honored to perform works by Brenda Daniels, Juel Lane, Jamel Gaines, Earl Mosley, Tina Bush, Adrienne Hurd, Clifford Williams, Daniel Gwirtzman, Larry Keigwen, Merce Cunningham, Vernard Gilmore, Susan Jaffe, Gabriel Forestieri and Aszure Barton.

Maleek Washington was born in the Bronx, New York, and was introduced to dance at the Broadway Dance Center and Harlem School of the Arts. After attending LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts, Maleek continued his education at The Boston Conservatory while dancing for Commonwealth Ballet. He joined CityDance Ensemble, a company that performed works by Paul Taylor, Kate Weare and Alex Noreal. During his time with CityDance, Maleek attended SpringBoard Danse Montréal, where he joined Jose Novas’s Company Flak for two seasons of European tours. Recently, Maleek has collaborated with MacArthur Genius awardee Kyle Abraham and his company, Abraham in Motion. He is excited to be working with Wylliams/Henry for the first time. His dance career is dedicated to his grandmother, the late Duella Smith.

Caroline Fogg (Apprentice) was taught under the direction of Patrick Frantz of the Paris Opera Ballet in Southern California and received intensive training with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, Orlando Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. Fogg performed at the opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in 2011 and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2012 and 2014. She graduated with a BFA in ballet and modern dance from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

John Swapshire (Apprentice), was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Central VPA High School and trained at Center of Creative Arts under the direction of Lee Nolting and Alicia Graf Mack. Swapshire made it through the Las Vegas round of “So You Think You Can Dance” and recently performed in China with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Wind Ensemble. John graduated from the UMKC with a BFA in dance and is excited to be performing with Wylliams/Henry.

“Fly Girls” (2019)

Catherine Meredith, Choreographer
Performed by Störling Dance Theater (Mona Störling-Enna, Artistic Director and Choreographer)

Program Notes Music: Josephine Baker and Dinah Washington with Max Richter

Dancers: Tiffany Best as Amelia Earhart; Alex Smith as Louise Thaden; Ivy EuDaly as Ruth Nichols (older); Heidi Loubser as Ruth Nichols (younger); Laura Fiatte as Ruth Elder; Ashley Moehlenhoff as Florence Klingensmith; Alexandra Wilson as Blanche Noyes; The Ninety-Nines: Emmi Aldridge, Brigitte Benyei, Rhiannon Grimes, Rachel Johnson, Danielle Palomino, Caitlyn Pettijohn, Brianna Wheeler, Andrea Wolfe | Costume design: Mona Störling-Enna | Audio recordings: Amelia Earhart and Louise Thaden | Sound: Sean Bergman and Mark Sanders

A special note from Catherine Meredith: The early female fliers of the ’20s and ’30s were tenacious, brave and resilient, proving women could and should have a place in aviation. They risked their lives so that others like them might take advantage of these new opportunities. Following the Women’s Air Derby in 1929, Amelia Earhart saw a need for mutual support and advancement and called for a meeting of licensed female pilots. This became known as “The Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots.” Though they endured and prevailed time and again in the sky despite the rampant sexism they faced on the ground, many of the surviving women battled depression, divorce and addiction as they were continuously cast aside in favor of male pilots. Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that the amazing stories and accomplishments of Louise Thaden, Florence Klingensmith, Bessie Coleman, Blanche Noyes, Ruth Elder and Ruth Nichols remain vastly untold.

Transcriptions of Spoken Word Audio in “Fly Girls”

Transcription One

“Obviously, research regarding technological unemployment is as vital today as further refinement or production have labor-saving and comfort-giving devices. Among all the marvels of modern invention, that with which I am most concerned is, of course, air transportation. Flying is perhaps the most dramatic of recent scientific attainment. In the brief span of 30-odd years, the world has seen an inventor’s dream first materialized by the Wright brothers at Kittyhawk become an everyday actuality. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but to me it seems that no other phase of modern progress contrives to maintain such a brimming measure of romance and beauty coupled with utility as does aviation.

Within itself, this industry embraces many of those scientific accomplishments, which yesterday, seemed fantastic impossibilities. The pilot, winging his way above the Earth at 200 miles per hour, talks by radio telephone to ground stations or to other planes in the air. In thick weather, he is guided by radio beam and receives detailed reports of conditions ahead gleaned through special instruments and new methods of meteorological calculations. He sits behind engines, the reliability of which measured by yardsticks of the past is all but unbelievable. I, myself, still fly a Wass motor, which has carried me over the North Atlantic, part of the Pacific, to and from Mexico City, and many times across this continent. Aviation, this young, modern giant, exemplifies the possible relationship of women and the creations of science. Although women, as yet, have not taken full advantage of its use and benefits, air travel is as available to them as to men.”

Transcription Two

“Here’s the end of a record-breaking flight from Los Angeles to New York. It’s the 10th of December 1930, as the plane taxis to a slow stop at Roosevelt Field. And who steps out of plane but one of America’s leading woman fliers, Ruth Nichols of Cincinnati. Mom’s plenty proud of her daughter, too, for Ruth’s flight established a coast-to-coast record of 13 hours, 22 minutes, which was one full hour better than marks set by Lindy.” – Amelia Earhart

Transcription Three

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have brought you into the main dining room of the advertising club of New York, 35th Street and Park Avenue, to hear the voices of women today. This is a rather unusual occasion. The room is full of distinguished women – women who have accomplished great things already in life. And the luncheon is being given to the guest of honor, Mrs. Louise Thaden, who has already won the Bendix prize at the transcontinental air race, won by herself, won by herself, won by herself, won by herself, won by herself, won by herself, won by herself, won by herself, won by herself, won by herself.”

Transcription Four

“She has achieved greatly and so shown to the world that woman may win an outstanding place for herself in mankind’s newest high endeavor, the conquest of the air. By her courage and self-sacrifice, she has established a place for woman in aviation.” – Amelia Earhart

Transcription Five

“Then she’s off for higher skies than any woman before her has ever seen. Ms. Nichols is aloft for one- and one-half hours, then brings home the big scarlet and cream-colored Lockheed Vega for perfect landing at Jersey Field. Fighting fatigue and thinning air, Ms. Nichols’ daring flight is huge success. For 10 days later, National Aeronautic Association accepts her climb of nearly 30,000 feet as an official record. And Ms. Nichols adds to her many laurels as one of America’s finest fliers.”

Transcription Six

“’Well if I should bobble, it’ll be doing the thing I have always most wanted to do.’ And I also am positive that, knowing the type of person Amelia is, it was met with courage and with strength and without panic and without fear.” –Louise Thaden, recalling a conversation she had with Amelia Earhart just before her ill-fated flight.

Special thanks to the International Women’s Air and Space Museum in Cleveland and Michael Sharaba for allowing access to these audio recordings.

Choreographer Biography
Catherine Meredith’s work has been commissioned by Santa Monica College, Mercyhurst University, Kent State University, The University of Akron, Ohio Northern University, Verb Ballets and the Dancing Wheels Company. She has presented at The Kennedy Center, AVAYAVA Festival (India), American Dance Guild (New York City), White Wave DUMBO Dance Festival, TED Talks, Dance St. Louis, HATCH Series at Jennifer Muller/The Works, Playhouse Square, Cain Park, Ohio Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pavilion-Nautica and The American Dance Festival (North Carolina).

Throughout her career, Meredith has worked in television, film, musical theater and on the concert dance stage touring nationally and internationally with such companies as Cortez & Co. Contemporary/Ballet, Verb Ballets, Karen Reedy Dance Company and most recently, The Glue Factory (Corningworks). She has performed in works by Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Talley Beatty, Paul Taylor, David Rousseve, David Parsons, Shapiro & Smith, Beth Corning and Hernando Cortez, with principal roles in Heinz Poll’s “Bolero,” Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring,” Ulysses Dove’s “Vespers” and Dianne McIntyre’s “In the Groove and Over the Top.”

Meredith has been on faculty at Slippery Rock University, Joffrey Ballet, Brooklyn Music School, Pineapple Studios (United Kingdom) and Cuyahoga Community College. She received an MFA from the American Dance Festival/Hollins University and is a board member of OhioDance.

Company Biography
Störling Dance Theater is celebrating its 24th season in Kansas City. Mona Störling-Enna moved to Kansas City in 1995 to launch her vision of a dance company made up of diversely skilled artists. With beauty and story as her skill set, Enna and her background in dance, painting and design, set out to enrich the community with stories and visions that would inspire others with specific concepts of relationships, community and hope.

Störling Dance Theater’s first major work, “The Prodigal Daughter,” premiered at the Kansas City Lyric Opera in 2001 and was chosen as one of the top 15 productions for the year by the Kansas City Star. Besides a collection of beautiful repertory work, Störling Dance Theater became known for its narrative works, including “Sower,” “Butterfly,” “Her Last Prayer” and “Suspended Grace.”

Störling Dance Theater is housed at The Culture House in Olathe, where its Conservatory of the Arts welcomes more than 800 students per week to study dance, theater, music and art from Kansas City’s top professionals.

Artistic Director and Costume Designer
Mona Störling-Enna grew up in northern Finland with a father who was a successful regional artist. Ingmar Störling was well known for painting seascapes, handcrafted and painted grandmother clocks, and custom furniture. Enna grew up under his tutelage, drawing and painting as soon as she could hold a pencil. Beginning to work with oils at the age of 5, she became the youngest student to be enrolled in the national art school, Nordiska Konstskolan.

She left the conservatory to follow her growing interest in dance, which opened up a world of possibilities for her costume designs. As a costume designer, Enna’s passions are to use hand-dyed fabrics, natural colors and, when called for, whimsical creations. She has designed and created more than 400 costumes for her work with Eternia Dans Teater in Sweden and Störling Dance Theater.

Dancer Biographies
Brigitte Benyei, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, began her dance training at Minnesota Youth Ballet. Benyei went on to the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, graduating with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography. She had the privilege to perform original works by Gary Abbott, Mary Pat Henry, DeeAnna Hiett, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Ron Tice and Paula Weber, as well as the first violin soloist repertoire from George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco. As a freelance dancer in Kansas City, Benyei was cast in the Kansas City Lyric Opera’s production of “Pearl Fishers.”

Tiffany Best is an American dancer, choreographer and dance instructor. She grew up dancing in Kansas City at DanceWorks. As a founding member of Störling, she performed works by Stephen Wynne, Steve Rooks, Amy Meyers Obregon and Drew Davidson. She trained at Hubbard Street and Gus Giordano, while dancing with VADCO/Valerie Alpert, Ford Saliba Dance Company, Chicago Dance Crash and Keith Givens Dance Lab. Best also danced in Denver for the Terrell Davis-Davis Contemporary Dance Company, Chris Harris-Louder Than Words Dance Theater, and Jacob Mora-Moraporvida Contemporary Dance. Tiffany is a proud mother of five and attributes her ability to combine motherhood and a dance career to her husband, faith life and the grace of God.

Laura Fiatte is originally from New Harbor, Maine, and received a BFA from The University of Hartford as a Dance Pedagogy major. She was instructed by Peggy Lyman (Martha Graham), Katie Stevinson-Nollet (Contemporary), Hilda Morales, Susan Brooker and Adam Miller (Ballet). Fiatte has danced with Störling Dance Theater for nine seasons and performed many lead and supporting roles, including Corrie in “Underground,” “High Heel Shoe Blues,” and the lead wife in “Suspended Grace.” Most recently, Fiatte performed with Kansas City Contemporary Dance and Seamless Dance Theater for their spring and fall performances.

Rhiannon Grimes’ passion for the way dance speaks to people began almost as soon as she could walk. She attended Belhaven University and graduated with a BFA in dance. Grimes worked with choreographers Nicole Marquez, Cynthia Newland, Caleb Mitchell, Brittany Nunez, Erin Rockwell and Laura Morton-Zebert. She also performed in Donald McKale’s “Songs of the Disinherited” under the instruction of Stephanie Powell and in Randall Flinn’s “Amazing Grace.” Grimes joined Störling Dance Theater in 2013 and always performs with the same passion that carried her into dance as a child.

Rachel Johnson received her dance training in Omaha, Nebraska, at Adair Dance Academy. In 2014, she began training and performing with Ballet Nebraska II. She graduated from Störling’s Artist Development Program, where she had the joy of growing her skills as a performer and choreographer. Johnson is honored to continue growing as an artist under the direction of Mona Enna and loves teaching at The Culture House. She dreams of evangelizing through the arts and is grateful to be a part of the incredible Störling community.

Caitlin Pettijohn received her early training at the Washington School of Ballet in Washington, D.C. While living in Idaho, she studied under wonderful teachers at the Festival Dance Academy. At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Pettijohn performed in Balanchine’s “Serenade” and “Valse Fantaisie” and Phillip Jerry’s “Our Town.” Graduating summa cum laude with a BFA in dance, she was accepted into Störling Dance Theater, where she has lived happily ever after. Roles including The Prostitute in “Prodigal Daughter,” Mrs. Walker in “Underground,” and performing in “High Heel Shoe Blues.”

Alexandra Wilson’s formal training began at DanceWorks Conservatory. She received a BFA in dance from the Conservatory at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on full scholarship. A company member since 2006, her memorable roles with Störling include Hannah, the Quaker, Mrs. Walker and Elise Walker in “Underground,” Roxy in “Prodigal Daughter,” First Wife in “Suspended Grace,” Kamikaze Mama, Mother and lead City soloist/pas de deux in “Butterfly,” and soloist in Störling’s collaboration with Spire Ensemble. Wilson is the proud wife of Jereme Wilson and mother of three children. She is extremely thankful to God to share her God-given talents and passion for dance with audiences and students at Culture House.

Andrea Wolfe began her training at Danceworks Conservatory. She spent most summers at dance intensives, including American Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, KC Ballet and The Glenda Brown Choreography Project. Andrea received a four-year ballet scholarship to the University of Utah, where she graduated with a BFA in Ballet Performance and Teaching. She danced professionally with Utah Contemporary Ballet, Spirit & Truth, Durham Ballet Theatre, Winston-Salem Festival Ballet and High Point Ballet. Wolfe returned to Kansas City in 2018 with her husband, Adam, and their daughter Charlotte. She is excited to be dancing with Störling in her fifth season and finds no greater joy than dancing for the Lord.

Emmi Aldridge (Apprentice) began her dance training with the Homeschool Dance Program, directed by Amber EuDaly Eames, Rachael EuDaly Gravity and Rachel Plante EuDaly. Upon graduating from high school in 2017, Aldridge continued her education with Störling’s Artistic Development Program, directed by Kathleen Schuler. She is excited to be dancing with Störling as an apprentice. She will also be a guest artist with Störling Moves Dance Collaboration. During this season, Aldridge looks forward to telling stories and learning to become a better artist.

Ashley Moehlenhoff (Apprentice) began her training at Miller Marley School of Dance and Voice. She spent summers at American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Oberlin Dance Collective, Oklahoma City Ballet and Kansas City Ballet. Summer study included Roser Muñoz and Joan Boix at Centre de Dansa de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, where she performed Uwe Sholz’s “Santus Y Ave Verum,” and Austin Hartel’s “Sunrise on Hatteras.” Moehlenhoff graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BFA in Ballet Pedagogy and a minor in General Business. After graduating, she performed two seasons as a company member with Ballet Quad Cities.

Danielle Palomino (Apprentice) earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she rigorously studied in ballet and modern dance. Palomino has spent three seasons performing with Seamless Dance Theatre and is an apprentice with Störling Dance Theater. Danielle has trained across the United States with companies such as The Barton Movement, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, Mam-Luft and Company and Royal Flux.

Alexandra Smith (Apprentice) is originally from Solon, Iowa, where she trained at the University of Iowa Youth Ballet. Upon moving to Kansas City, she began her degree in dance performance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has performed with the university, worked with guest artists Cleo Parker Robinson, Kevin Iega Jeff and Nilas Martin, and attended summer programs with the Kansas City Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Contemporary Ballet, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre. In 2019, Alexandra graduated cum laude with a BFA.

Brianna Wheeler (Apprentice) began her dance career at Greenleaf Performing Arts Academy at age 7, where she instantly fell in love with movement. She recently graduated from Störling’s Artist Development Program. She has choreographed many musical theater productions, and her choreography has been performed in the Kansas City area and Germany. Wheeler teaches ballet, jazz, contemporary and modern dance and loves every second of it! She recently joined Störling Dance Theater and is thankful to be a part of such a supportive and artistically brilliant group of dancers.

Ivy EuDaly (Guest Artist from Störling Moves Dance Collaboration) began her ballet training at Colorado School of Dance and later continued at Classic Dance Academy. EuDaly moved to Kansas City to study under Störling’s Artist Development Program. She trained under Mona Störling-Enna, Kathleen Schular, Marc Wayne, Hannah Anderson, Suzanne Ryan-Strati and Tobin James. She graduated in 2016 and traveled to Paris to dance and teach. Upon her return, she performed with Störling Dance Theater for two seasons and is currently dancing with Störling Moves Dance Collaboration. EuDaly has also studied at Bill Evan’s Teacher Institute (BETI) in New Mexico, as well as under the directors of National Dance Institute (NDI) New Mexico.

Heidi Loubser (Guest Artist from Störling Moves Dance Collaboration) began dancing in her hometown of Pretoria, South Africa. She received her early training in Michigan at Brighton School of Ballet and began exploring contemporary movement. Loubser graduated with a two-year certificate from Störling’s Artist Development Program. She has studied with Ad Deum Dance Company and Ballet Magnificat and is on scholarship with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and Inlet Dance Theatre. She recently performed with Chadash Contemporary Dance Movement in Denver. She has performed throughout Germany and in Project Dance Paris. Loubser is grateful for the opportunity to perform with Störling Dance Theater.

“Assembly” (2019)

Gregory Dolbashian, Choreographer and Composer
Performed by Owen/Cox Dance Group (Jennifer Owen, Founder and Artistic Director)

Program Notes Music: Gregory Dolbashian (original composition and arrangement featuring samples from Loscil and Peter Martinez) | Costume design: Hollie Hermes

Dancers: Elysa Hotchkiss, Emily Mushinski, Laura Jones Wallner, Michael Davis, Demetrius McClendon, Christopher Page-Sanders

A special note from Gregory Dolbashian: “Assembly” takes its audience through a daring display of deep connections between its characters through both real and imaginative circumstances. The events on stage act as a magnified looking glass of interactions that provide an opportunity for us to recognize and reframe ourselves in each other. I invite you to locate yourself in the performer to recognize your own dramas translated in the fierce, physical language and to see yourself falling and flying and represented as the hero of your own existence. A blend of contemporary dance and theatrical expression, “Assembly” offers up a dynamic and engaging treatment of live performance and the body’s role in providing the illustrative shape of our stories.

A special note from Jennifer Owen: It’s been a joy working with Greg on this piece and seeing his process unfold. He worked very closely with the dancers and created the work specifically for them, drawing from each of their personalities, strengths and connection with one another.

Choreographer Biography
Born and raised in New York City, Gregory Dolbashian made his professional stage debut at age 8 with the Glimmerglass Opera Company and in the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson world tour of “Einstein on the Beach.” Dolbashian received his dance training at the Alvin Ailey School, then graduated cum laude from the State University of New York Purchase Conservatory of Dance. He debuted his own company, The DASH Ensemble, in December 2010 at The JOYCE SoHo. The company has gone on to perform at The JOYCE Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Guggenheim Works and Process Series, Central Park Summer Stage and Jacob’s Pillow, as well as tour domestically across the United States.

His artistic awards include winner of The Pretty Creatives Competition for Northwest Dance Project and The Hubbard Street 2 International Choreographic Competition, second place in Ballet Austin’s New American Talent competition, and the audience prize at DanceNOW at Joe’s Pub in 2014 and again in 2017. Company commissions include Atlanta Ballet, TU Dance in Minnesota, Zenon Dance Company, Ballet Austin, LA Contemporary Dance Company, Hubbard Street 2, St. Louis Ballet, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance in Dallas, Northwest Dance Project in Portland, Dance Ethos in Pennsylvania and for St. Louis Ballet.

Dolbashian has also received commissions from American Dance Festival as a featured choreographer in The Footprints Program and the City of New York for a large-scale commission in Madison Square Park. He has created multiple works for principals and soloists that include Jeffrey Cirio, Daniil Simkin and Hee Seo, with national and international premieres. College commissions include the Juilliard School, NYU Tisch, SUNY Purchase, DeSales University, The Hartt School, Point Park, Fordham/Ailey, Long Island University, University of Hawaii, Florida Southern College and James Madison University. Dolbashian also teaches workshops and creates work all over the country at competitive studios and professional training programs, including LINES Ballet, E.M.I.A, Mid Pacific Institute, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, and MOVENYC.

As a soloist and performer, Dolbashian has performed in multiple DASH repertory shows. His solo work was presented at American Dance Festival in his one-man show “Awkward Magic.” Alongside fellow choreographer Loni Landon, Dolbashian is the co-founder of The Playground NYC, a choreographic initiative voted “25 to Watch in 2013” by Dance Magazine.

Company Biography
Owen/Cox Dance Group’s mission is to create new music and dance collaborations, present high-quality contemporary dance performances with live music, and to engage a wide audience through affordable live performance, education and outreach programs. With this mission in mind, founders Jennifer Owen and Brad Cox bring together some of Kansas City’s most talented artists to perform contemporary dance with live music. With diverse backgrounds ranging from the Bolshoi Ballet and Leningrad Chamber Orchestra to Alvin Ailey and Dave Brubeck, these dancers and musicians form a highly skilled and multifaceted corps. The collaborative results speak for themselves: fresh and vibrant new works that are classical in form but contemporary in expression.

Artistic Director Biography
Jennifer Owen’s ballet career has taken her around the globe. After training with Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, she went on to dance with the Russian State Ballet, Moscow Renaissance Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet and BalletMet. She also had the unique experience of appearing as a guest artist with the National Ballet of Turkmenistan.

Owen has danced in notable roles, including the title role in “Giselle,” Kitri in “Don Quixote,” principal roles in George Balanchine’s “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” and “Donizetti Variations,” and the central pas de deux in Todd Bolender’s “Arena.” Owen has choreographed more than 50 new works for Owen/Cox Dance Group, as well as nine works for Kansas City Ballet’s “In the Wings” choreographic workshop and a winning entry for the 2006 Columbus Choreography Project. Owen is the recipient of a 2000 Princess Grace Honorarium. In 2014 she and her husband, Brad Cox, welcomed their daughter, Cecilia.

Dancer Biographies
Emily Mushinski, originally from the Kansas City area, is excited to join Owen/Cox Dance Group for another season. She studied at American Dance Center under the instruction of Kristopher Estes-Brown and Jennifer Tierney. She furthered her training at summer intensives with Joffrey Midwest, Boston Ballet, LINES Ballet, Ballet X, and Trisha Brown Dance Company. In 2017, she graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Purchase College, where she was the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award. She also studied for a semester at Codarts University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Mushinski has performed works by choreographers such as George Balanchine, Trisha Brown, Bela Foldi, Gabrielle Lamb, Matthew Neenan, Taryn Kaschock Russell, Kameron Saunders and Manuel Vignoulle. In 2018, Mushinski trained and performed with Budapest Dance Theater in Hungary. She is currently the director of Blink Verse Inc. – a nonprofit with the mission of building faith and growing community through performing arts and physical education. Emily teaches dance and yoga and travels as much as possible with her husband, Nathan.

Elysa Hotchkiss was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, where she received her early training with the Lake Erie Ballet School. Hotchkiss received a full scholarship from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s graduate program and was hired from the program into Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as a company member. She was promoted to soloist in 2011. Hotchkiss danced for the Kansas City Ballet for four seasons and most recently was with the Moving Arts as part of their 2019 summer company. Throughout her career, Hotchkiss has enjoyed performing roles such as Myrtha in “Giselle,” Gamzatti in “La Bayadere,” Mercedes in “Don Quixote,” Lady Capulet in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the principal pas de deux in Balanchine’s “Agon,” and the Sylvie pas de deux in William Forsythe’s “In the Middle Somewhat Elevated,” as well as feature roles in Dwight Rhoden’s “Carmina Burana,” Jiri Kylian’s “Petite Mort” and Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” and “Nine Sinatra Songs.”

Laura Jones Wallner, originally from Hamilton, Montana, started dancing at age 6. She attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ School of Dance, graduating from their high school Classical Ballet program. Wallner also studied with the Boston Ballet and Houston Ballet. She danced professionally with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet II and with the Missouri Contemporary Ballet. Since moving to Kansas City, she has danced extensively with Quixotic and with Owen/Cox Dance Group.

Michael Davis began his ballet training at the Marya Kennett Dance Centre in Goshen, New York, at age 10. After attending summer courses at The Rock School for Dance Education in Pennsylvania, he was accepted into their year-round residency program on a merit scholarship. Upon graduating from The Rock School, Davis joined Oregon Ballet Theatre in 2007 and danced for two years under the direction of Christopher Stowell and Damara Bennett. He has performed in various works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp and Jerome Robbins.

Demetrius McClendon, born and raised on the south side of Chicago, began dancing with street hip-hop at age 15. He began his formal training at Northern Illinois University under the tutelage of Randall Newsom and Judith Chitwood. Since graduating in 2011, he has danced professionally with DanceWorks Chicago, TU Dance, Owen/Cox Dance Group and as a guest artist with Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance, Twin Cities Ballet and Minnesota Opera. He embraces dance as a spiritual practice and uses the arts in conjunction with his passion for social justice to inspire revolutionary change.

Christopher Page-Sanders, originally from St. Louis, received his formal dance training from the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) and the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is the co-founder/artistic director of Nu-World Contemporary Danse Theatre, but has had the opportunity to dance with companies such as the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Hannah Kahn Dance Company, Leah Glenn Dance Theatre and Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. He teaches and choreographs for a variety of arts organizations and is happy to return to Owen/Cox Dance Group for yet another season!

“The Uneven” (2017)

Matthew Neenan, Choreographer
Performed by The Kansas City Ballet (Devon Carney, Artistic Director)

Program Notes Music: Phillip Glass (sections from Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, The Concerto Project: Vol. IV) | Costume design: Lisa Choules | Lighting design: Burke Brown | Artistic adviser: Michael Uthoff

Dancers: Danielle Bausinger, Kaleena Burks, Elysa Hotchkiss, Taryn Mejia, Emily Mistretta, Angelina Sansone, Sarah Joan Smith, Humberto Rivera Blanco, Michael Davis, Charles Martin, Lamin Pereira dos Santos, Gustavo Ribeiro, Cameron Thomas

Choreographer Biography
Matthew Neenan began his dance training at the Boston Ballet School with noted teachers Nan C. Keating and Jacqueline Cronsberg. He later attended the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts and the School of American Ballet in New York. Neenan also danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet in numerous principal roles in the classical, contemporary and Balanchine repertoire. In 2007, Neenan was named Choreographer-in-Residence at the Pennsylvania Ballet.

His choreography has been featured and performed by the Pennsylvania Ballet (17 commissions), BalletX, The Washington Ballet, Ballet West, Ballet Met, Colorado Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Milwaukee Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Tulsa Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet and Juilliard Dance, among many others. He has received numerous awards and grants for his choreography from the National Endowment of the Arts, Dance Advance funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Choo San Goh Foundation, and the Independence Foundation. Neenan received the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute’s Fellowship Initiative Award, and in 2008, a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, his fourth time to receive the fellowship. In October 2009, was the grand-prize winner of Sacramento Ballet’s Capital Choreography Competition and was also the first recipient of the Jerome Robbins NEW Program Fellowship for his work “At the border” for Pennsylvania Ballet.

Neenan co-founded BalletX with fellow dancer Christine Cox. BalletX had its world premiere at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in September 2005 and is now the resident dance company at the prestigious Wilma Theatre. BalletX has toured and performed Neenan’s choreography in New York City at The Joyce Theater, City Center, The Skirball Center, Symphony Space and Central Park SummerStage, Vail International Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Festival, The Cerritos Center, Laguna Dance Festival, Spring to Dance Festival in St. Louis, and internationally in Cali, Colombia and Seoul, South Korea.

Company Biography
Founded in 1957, Kansas City Ballet is a 30-member professional ballet company under the leadership of Artistic Director Devon Carney and Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley. The company’s mission is to establish Kansas City Ballet as an indispensable asset in its community through exceptional performances, excellence in dance training and quality community education programs for all ages.

The ballet is home to Kansas City Ballet School with an enrollment of more than 2,000 students and which offers professional training for the career-minded student, as well as for those simply seeking a healthy lifestyle. Through the professional company, second company (KCB II & Trainees), and community service programs such as Reach Out and Dance (ROAD), the ballet seeks to nurture and develop artists, audiences and students in values inherent in the creativity, diversity and joy of dance. Our home is the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity. Our Resident Company status at the world-class Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has positioned Kansas City as a destination for dance.

Creative Team Biographies
Devon Carney, Artistic Director
Devon Carney joined Kansas City Ballet after 10 years with Cincinnati Ballet as Associate Artistic Director. His early training was with Harvey Hysell of New Orleans. Carney was a principal dancer with Boston Ballet for 12 of his 20 professional performing years, where he performed leading roles in well-known classical ballets and 20th Century classical works, and in roles by cutting edge choreographers such as Mark Morris, Maurice Bejart and Merce Cunningham. In addition, he performed a diverse Balanchine repertoire and toured extensively with greats such as Rudolf Nureyev, Fernando Bujones and Cynthia Gregory. With Boston Ballet, he was ballet master and artistic director of their summer dance program for eight years.

Carney’s teaching credits include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet and many others. He has choreographed for Boston Ballet, Ballet Met, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Kansas City Ballet. In the summer of 2011, Carney choreographed for the Cincinnati Opera for the opera “A Flowering Tree” by John Adams. Opera News said, “Devon Carney’s choreography was both athletic and exquisite.” With Cincinnati Ballet, he created more than 20 original works, including “Blue Rondo” and “World Citizen.” A review of those pieces said, “Carney’s work is not only well-crafted but moody and intense with a palpable sense of loneliness. His work grows more confident and more skillful with every piece he creates.” (David Lyman, Cincinnati Enquirer).

Carney also created “Boot It Up!,” which was performed with the live musical accompaniment of rock and roll legend Peter Frampton and his band. Additionally, he created a full-length world premiere of “Dracula” and has created his versions of the great classics “Giselle,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and the one-act ballet “The Steadfast Tin Solder.” He choreographed “Die Fledermaus” and “La Traviata” for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

With the Kansas City Ballet, he created “Opus I” in 2013, “Giselle” in 2014, and presented his full-length “Swan Lake” in 2016 and “The Sleeping Beauty” in 2017. He also world-premiered a brand-new production of “The Nutcracker” in 2015 and “Romeo and Juliet” in 2017.

Lisa Choules, Costume Designer
Lisa Choules is costume designer for the Kansas City Ballet and founder of Elevé Dancewear, an original line of dance clothing. She has designed costumes for numerous dance companies, including Kansas City Ballet and Eugene Ballet. Prior to founding Elevé, Choules enjoyed a long ballet career with companies such as L.A. Classical Ballet, Utah Ballet, Utah Regional Ballet and Kansas City Ballet. She has danced principal roles such as the Lilac Fairy in “Sleeping Beauty” and Odette in Act II of “Swan Lake.” More information on Elevé Dancewear can be found at

Kristi Capps, Ballet Master
Kristi Capps began her professional career with the Atlanta Ballet and then joined Cincinnati Ballet. Rising quickly through the ranks to principal, Capps delighted audiences performing the principal role in ballets such as “Coppelia,” “Don Quixote,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Giselle,” “Swan Lake,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Cinderella” and many of George Balanchine’s ballets. She performed the leading role in George Balanchine’s “Chaconne” with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Capps has been a guest artist with companies and galas such as the Chautauqua Ballet Company, International Ballet Festival of Miami, International Dance Festival in Vail, and with Angel Corella and Stars of American Ballet in Spain. Mrs. Capps performed original works by Luca Veggetti at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum’s “Works in Process” series, as well as additional works of Veggetti’s with the Morphoses Dance Company in Paris. She was part of the faculties of the Cincinnati Ballet Academy and Colorado Ballet Academy, as well as a guest teacher at numerous universities and ballet academies throughout the country. Capps served as ballet mistress in residence for Kansas City Ballet’s 2013-2014 season during the production of “Dracula,” as well as a repetiteur for its spring production of “Cinderella.”

Parrish Maynard, Ballet Master
Parrish Maynard danced with American Ballet Theatre, where he was invited to join by Mikhail Baryshnikov, and was a principal dancer at The Joffrey Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. In addition to being a recipient of the Princess Grace Award and the Presidential Scholar Award, he was a silver medalist in the International Ballet Competition. Maynard has performed in Dance in America’s American Ballet Theatre Now, danced Nacho Duato’s “Romanso,” and danced San Francisco Ballet Lar Lubovich’s “Othello” in the role of Iago which was created for him. In 2005, Maynard joined the faculty of San Francisco Ballet School. In his 10 years with the ballet school, Maynard choreographed more than 20 ballets, some of which have been danced by companies around the world, including Royal Ballet School, Royal New Zealand Ballet and National Ballet of Canada.

Dancer Biographies
Danielle Bausinger was born in New Jersey and started dancing at the age of 3. Shortly thereafter, her family moved to California where she continued training. While attending San Francisco Ballet School, Bausinger performed many works by renowned choreographers. She also had the opportunity to perform with the San Francisco Ballet. Bausinger joined Cincinnati Ballet in 2006 and performed roles as Myrtha in “Giselle” and “Third Movement Principal in Symphony in C.” With Kansas City Ballet, she has been featured as the Queen of Hearts in “Alice (in wonderland),” Sanguinic in “The Four Temperaments,” and Milady de Winter in “The Three Musketeers.”

Humberto Rivera Blanco, originally from Havana, Cuba, began his ballet training at the age of 8 at the National School of Ballet of Cuba. In 2014, he joined the National Ballet of Cuba under the artistic direction of Alicia Alonso. There, Mr. Blanco danced in many ballets such as “Giselle,” “Paquita,” “Don Quixote,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Majismo.” Upon moving to Miami in 2015, he studied at The Art of Classical Ballet under the direction of Magaly Suarez and performed roles in “Le Corsaire” and “The Nutcracker.”

Kaleena Burks was raised in Fort Lauderdale, where she received training from Magda Aunon and Magaly Suarez. In 2005, she was awarded first place in the preprofessional division of the American Ballet Competition and has since been invited to perform in many galas, including the International Ballet Festival of Miami. Burks has danced with Cincinnati Ballet, Columbia Classical Ballet, and the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami. With Kansas City Ballet, Burks has been featured as The Chosen One in “Rite of Spring,” Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” Myrtha in “Giselle,” Lilac Fairy in “Sleeping Beauty,” Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella,” Helena in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” along with principal roles in “Serenade,” “Interplay,” “Mercury,” and “Diving Into the Lilacs.”

Michael Davis began his ballet training at the Marya Kennett Dance Centre in Goshen, New York, at the age of 10. After attending summer courses at The Rock School for Dance Education in Pennsylvania, he was accepted into their year-round residency program on a merit scholarship. Upon graduating from The Rock School, he joined Oregon Ballet Theatre in 2007 and danced for two years under the direction of Christopher Stowell and Damara Bennett. Davis has performed in various works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Jerome Robbins and Christopher Wheeldon.

Elysa Hotchkiss was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, and received her early training with the Lake Erie Ballet School. In 2003, she was offered a full scholarship to attend Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s graduate program. She then joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as a company member in 2004 and was promoted to soloist in 2011. As a dancer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, she enjoyed performing such roles as Gamzatti in “La Bayadere,” Mercedes in “Don Quixote,” Myrtha in “Giselle,” Russian Girl in “Serenade,” the lead in Dwight Rhoden’s “Carmina Burana,” Lady Capulet in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s “Romeo et Juliette,” the Sugar Plum Fairy in Terrence Orr’s “The Nutcracker,” Flora in “Dracula” and the principal pas de deux in Balanchine’s “Agon.”

Charles Martin received his primary training from Penny Askew at the Western Oklahoma Ballet Academy in Clinton, Oklahoma. He also studied intensively at American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet School in New York and the Glenda Brown Choreography Project. Martin has had 12 choreographic works selected for the Regional Dance America/Southwest Festival concerts – two receiving special recognition from the Monticello Foundation. With Kansas City Ballet, he has been featured in soloist roles in Brahms’ “Paganini,” “Piano Concerto #2,” “Lambarena,” “Concerto Grosso,” The Moor’s Pavane,” “Romeo & Juliet,” “Common People,” “Tom Sawyer,” “Dracula,” “Alice (in wonderland),” and “Giselle.”

Taryn Mejia was born in Kansas City and began her training at the age of 3. She continued her training at the Kansas City Ballet School and the School of American Ballet and was featured in “Serenade” for the SAB workshop. After a short apprenticeship with New York City Ballet, Mejia was given her Corps de Ballet contract, performing numerous Balanchine and Robbins ballets including “Stars and Stripes,” “Jewels,” “West Side Story Suite” and “The Cage.” She also originated roles for Christopher Wheeldon and Susan Stroman. Mejia is in her sixth season with the Kansas City Ballet and has been featured in “The Nutcracker,” “Alice (in wonderland),” “The Four Temperaments,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Theme and Variations.”

Emily Mistretta began her training at Inland Pacific Ballet Academy in Montclair, California. In 2005, she attended Boston Ballet’s summer dance program, where she was asked to join the Boston Ballet School and received a tuition scholarship with generous funding from Jack Rugheimer. Mistretta joined Boston Ballet II, and she was promoted to Corps de Ballet in 2008. She has been featured in several works throughout her career with Boston Ballet, including various works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, Florence Clerc’s “La Bayadère,” Michel Fokine’s “Les Sylphides,” “Sleeping Beauty,” Jiří Kylián’s “Bella Figura,” “Wings of Wax,” “Tar and Feathers,” “Symphony of Psalms” and Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti.”

Lamin Pereira dos Santos was born in Rio de Janeiro and started dancing at Centro de Danca Rio. In 2007, Pereira was hired by The Ballet of Municipal Theatre of Rio de Janeiro to perform in Achcar’s production of “The Nutcracker” as a soloist. He was awarded a full tuition scholarship to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. In 2011, he joined The Washington Ballet Studio Company where he performed Prince Desire in “Sleeping Beauty.” From there, Pereira joined the Orlando Ballet, where he performed leading roles such as Romeo, Paris, Prince Sigfried, Escamillo, and Don Jose. With Kansas City Ballet, he has performed featured roles in “Giselle,” “Alice (in wonderland)” and “The Four Temperaments.”

Gustavo Ribeiro was born in Vitoria, Brazil. He began his ballet training at age 12 at Expressao e Arte Studio de Danca. He graduated from Orlando Ballet School in 2014 and began his career with Washington Ballet under the direction of Septime Webre. Ribeiro was the youngest dancer to join Alberta Ballet, where he performed featured roles in the 2015-2016 season. Ribeiro has received many top honors and dance awards in Brazil, the U.S. and Canada. He was a Youth America Grand Prix finalist and a TOP 12 in New York. He has performed many principal roles in “La Bayadere,” “Don Quixote,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Nutcracker,” “Alice (in wonderland),” “Swan Lake,” “Le Corsaire,” “Happy Little Things” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Angelina Sansone left her parent’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, at age 14 to attend the Harid Conservatory. After graduation, she spent two seasons with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago where she appeared in Robert Altman’s 2003 film “The Company.” Following her stay with Joffrey, Sansone worked toward her bachelor’s degree in ballet at Indiana University before joining Kansas City Ballet in 2005. Throughout her career, she has performed leading roles in “Apollo,” “The Concert,” “Lark Ascending,” “Afternoon of a Faun,” “Dark Elegies,” “Mozartiana,” “Giselle,” “Petal,” “Rite of Spring” and the title role in “Romeo & Juliet.” During the off-seasons, Sansone has enjoyed guesting with Motion Dance Theatre and Kansas City Dance Festival.

Sarah Joan Smith, from Columbia, South Carolina, began her training at the age of 8 in Kiev, Ukraine. She continued dancing at Columbia Ballet School with Anita Ashley. Smith attended summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, San Francisco Ballet and Boston Ballet. She attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2010. Following graduation in 2012, she became a trainee with Boston Ballet. In 2013, Ms. Smith joined Richmond Ballet’s second company under Stoner Winslett and Igor Antonov. She enjoyed performing in many ballets, including “Mozartiana,” “Valse Fantaisie,” “Carmina Burana” and “Rite of Spring.” She was a featured soloist in “Don Quixote,” “The Nutcracker” and works by Val Caniparoli.

Cameron Thomas began his dance training in 2008 at the Draper Center for Dance Education in his hometown of Rochester, New York. In 2013, he became a trainee with the Rochester City Ballet. Thomas received a full scholarship to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. In 2016, Thomas joined Kansas City Ballet II under the direction of Anthony Krutzkamp and Devon Carney. He was promoted to Apprentice with the Kansas City Ballet for the 2017-2018 season. With Kansas City Ballet, Thomas has performed in Bruce Wells’ “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Devon Carney’s “The Nutcracker” and “Sleeping Beauty,” and George Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations.”

Donor Appreciation

  • Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission’s Creative Economy Project Support, Kansas Department of Commerce
  • Richard J. Stern Arts Foundation, Commerce Bank, Trustee
  • George H. Langworthy, Sr.
  • Adrienne Kilbride
  • G. Mark Sappington and David McGee
  • National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works Arts Engagement in American Communities
  • Supported in part by the Arthur and Alma Yardley Endowment in the JCCC Foundation

Thank you, also, to JCCC, the Midwest Trust Center production crew and JCCC Video Services.