Artistic Director, Kansas City Ballet
William Whitener was appointed artistic director of the Kansas City Ballet in November 1996. He has been active in the professional dance field for three decades as a renowned dancer, teacher, choreographer and director and has worked with the leaders who shaped the face of contemporary American ballet, including Robert Joffrey, Jerome Robbins, and Twyla Tharp. Mr. Whitener has served as artistic director of both Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal.
His early ballet training was with Karen Irvin at the Cornish School in Seattle, Washington. In 1963, at 11 years of age, he was the recipient of a Ford Foundation scholarship to study with the San Francisco Ballet School. As a child, he performed with the Bolshoi Ballet in their production of Ballet School. As a teenager, he was trained by Robert Joffrey, who invited him to join the New York City Opera Ballet and, subsequently, the Joffrey Ballet in 1969. For the next eight years, he performed a wide range of principal roles in ballets by Alvin Ailey, Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Kurt Jooss, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, among others. Read William Whitener's full bio
Hailing from Staunton, Virginia, James Jordan began his formal dance training at the Richmond Ballet during his freshmen year at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Theatre Department. Three years later, he was recruited by Mr. Bolender at North Carolina School for the Arts for his first company of dancers in Kansas City. During and after those next seven years with Kansas City Ballet, Mr. Jordan also performed in Santa Fe and in the New York area. His career then led him to press relations for public television, prior to his return to Kansas City in 1991 as ballet master. In 2000, he received his B.F.A. in dance from the UMKC Conservatory of Dance. Mr. Jordan works with students in the Kansas City Ballet School and stages the ballets of Todd Bolender and Antony Tudor in Kansas City and across the nation.
Karen P. Brown
After a four year hiatus, Karen P. Brown returned to Kansas City Ballet in 2008. A native of Newark, Ohio, she danced with National Ballet of Washington D.C., Pennsylvania Ballet and as a principal dancer and later ballet mistress with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Prior to joining KCB as ballet mistress and school director in 1998, she was ballet mistress of BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio. Since 2004, Ms. Brown served as interim school director for the Washington (D.C.) School of Ballet, participated on the jury for the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition, and been a faculty member of Gulfshore Ballet in Fort Myers, Florida. Ms. Brown participates on guest faculties of many summer programs and continues to work with many choreographers, stage ballets and teach master classes around the world.