Kimberly Cowen, Interim School Director
Kimberly Cowen, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, received most of her ballet training from Nathalie LeVine. She has also studied at St.Louis Ballet under Ludmila Dokoudovsky and Antoni Zalewski, at Pacific Northwest Ballet with Fleming Halby and Nina Danilova and at The Joffrey Ballet with Francesca Corkle and Winthrop Corey. She studied at the Kansas City Ballet School with Todd Bolender, Una Kai and Lisa Dillinger before joining the Kansas City Ballet in 1991, where she danced for 20 years. Ms. Cowen has danced as Swanilda in Coppélia, Odette in Swan Lake, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the title role in Giselle, Carmen and Romeo & Juliet. She has had the pleasure of dancing a wide variety of styles by famous choreographers such as George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Anthony Tudor, Todd Bolender, David Parsons, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, Vincente Nebrada, Nacho Duato, Margo Sappington, Trey McIntyre, Jessica Lang, Val Caniparoli, Mary Wigman and William Whitener. Ms. Cowen began teaching at the Somerset Ballet in 1998 and joined the KCBS staff in 2002. Ms. Cowen is responsible for the students of the Upper School and is the director of the Kansas City Youth Ballet. She is dedicated to teaching the next generation of dancers and passing on all she has learned in her time as a student and a professional.
Hyuk-Ku Kwon, KCYB Ballet Master
Hyuk-Ku Kwon studied ballet at Sejong University in Korea. He took a Silver Medal in 1991, and a Gold Medal in 1993 in the Korean Dance Association Competition, and a Gold Medal in the First Kirov-Universal Ballet Competition. He joined Universal Ballet in 1992, was promoted to soloist in 1994 and to principal in 1996 dancing principal roles. In 2001, he participated as a guest in the World Stars at Opera International Ballet Gala in Budapest. Hyuk-Ku danced principal roles with Ballet Arizona before joining Eugene Ballet. With the company, he has danced many principal roles including Prince Desiré in The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming in Cinderella, Oberon in Toni Pimble’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the title role in Bruce Steivel’s Peter Pan and the Golden Slave in Dennis Spaight’s Scheherazade. He performed at the company’s Alaska Dance Theatre residency and White Bird’s 4X4 Project. In 2009 Hyuk-Ku took on the role of ballet master, teaching and coaching younger dancers in the classics with Eugene Ballet.
Rose Taylor, Head of Lower School
Rose Taylor-Spann is returning to Kansas City after dancing with Houston Ballet Academy. While teaching at Houston Ballet, Rose trained under and developed several early childhood programs with Priscilla Nathan-Murphy and Cheryne Busch. Rose also served as Associate Artistic Director for Claire School of Dance in addition to developing several after school programs in the Houston area. Originally from Kansas City, Mrs. Taylor-Spann trained with Jane Pierce at Somerset Ballet School, School of American Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and served as a Student Apprentice for Kansas City Ballet. Rose continues to dance professionally and is eager to share her experience and love for the art form with the students of Kansas City Ballet School.
Marcus Oatis, Johnson County Manager
Marcus Oatis, a native of Kansas City, began his dance education with the summer program Ailey Camp. This program afforded Marcus the opportunity to study at additional programs including Smith Sisters Dance Studio, The Center Dance, Kansas City Ballet, and the Ailey School. While completing his Bachelors in Music Performance, Marcus began studying under the tutelage of John Fagan and Sara Mau. In 2008, Marcus joined the Kansas City Ballet under the direction of William Whitener. Marcus was able to perform works by esteemed choreographers such as Val Caniporall, Bruce Marks, Peter Martins, Robert Hill, Ib Anderson, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, and Yuri Possokhov. Marcus’ most notable roles were the Russian in Todd Bolender’s The Nutcracker, Jessica Lang’s Splendid Isolations III, the Moor in Jose Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane, Jerome Robbins Afternoon of a Faun, and Balanchine’s Serenade. Marcus has also performed with the Owen/Cox Dance Group, Arcanium Dance Project, and Central Dance Theatre. Additionally, Marcus is very active in the dance community as an instructor and choreographer. Marcus has served as the Rehearsal Director for Owen/Cox dance Group and has taught and choreographed for various studios including Omaha Academy of Ballet, Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, Ailey Camp, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet School.
Skyler Taylor, School Registrar
Skyler is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, where she earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance. Skyler received her early dance training from her mother and instructor, Marica Kolich-Taylor; Joffrey principal dancers, Robert and Miyoko Thomas; The American Dance Center; and Kansas City Ballet School. As a Student Apprentice with Kansas City Ballet she performed in Todd Bolender’s The Nutcracker, La Fille Mal Gardee, and Voyager. Skyler has toured in The Nutcracker with the Albany Berkshire Ballet Company in Albany, NY and performed with the Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Theater in Kansas City, MO. Her most memorable roles have been in Paula Weber’s White, Garry Abbot’s Desire, and Salvador Aiello’s Afternoon of a Faun. Skyler has been on full scholarship at The Ailey School in New York, Kansas City Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet School in New York, and the RDA Craft of Choreography Conference in Carlisle, PA. In 2010-11, Skyler danced as an Apprentice with the Sarasota Ballet Company in Sarasota, Fl. She also was the assistant to the Education Director and an instructor with the Sarasota Ballet School. With over 10 years of experience, Skyler has taught at numerous schools including: Paseo High School for the Performing Arts, The American Dance Center, and the Dance Studio of Iowa. Skyler truly enjoys teaching all ages and dance styles and is dedicated to education in the arts. She feels privileged to be on staff at Kansas City Ballet.
Lynley Schaffer, Administrative Assistant
Lynley Schaffer, originally from the Philadelphia area, fell in love with the arts at the young age of 10, when she began taking classes at a local dance studio. New Horizons Dance Alliance, formerly Broadway Dance Academy, gave her the opportunity to study various dance disciplines. Through the direction of George Thompson and Tara Keating, formerly with Pennsylvania Ballet, she developed a strong passion for ballet. At 14 Lynley was accepted into the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts’ dance program and spent her high school career studying ballet and modern under teachers Kim Maniscalco, Amy Lawrence, Yu Hong, and Dana Nederostek. Lynley attended classes and summer programs at Joffrey Ballet, Virginia School for the Arts, STEPS in New York, and Koresh School of Dance. Following a mentor from VSA, Lynley found her way out to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to study under Paula Weber, Ron Tice, DeeAnna Hiett, and Sabrina Madison-Cannon. At UMKC, she danced in numerous pieces including Balanchine’s Valse Fantasies, Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, andPaula Weber’s To Each Her Own. As Conservatory Dance Association President, she was responsible for sending UMKC to Regional College Dance Festivals in 2011 and 2012 and organized their trip to the Kennedy Center for Nationals. In May of 2012, Lynley graduated with a BFA in dance began working as a Ballet Instructor and Administrative Assistant at the Kansas City Ballet School. She is happy to be bringing dance into the lives of Kansas City’s dance students.
Ann Dubois, Johnson County Administrative Assistant
Studio Specific Teachers:
• Jeffrey Ruckman (Pianist)
Amara Afuvai is a San Francisco native, who has happily called the Kansas City area her home since 1997. No stranger to the stage, Amara has performed professionally as a Polynesian dancer (her dance background & first love since the age of three), & has also appeared in many local community musical theatre productions. Now she brings to the “stage” a new love – Zumba! So ditch the workout & join the party! Her certifications include Zumba Basics I & II, Zumba Gold, Zumbatomics, Zumba Toning, & Hot Hula Fitness. Amara is thrilled & humbled at the opportunity to teach Zumba at The Kansas City Ballet School.
Chelsea Brown began her training locally at The Culture House Academy of Performing Arts, graduating from their pre-professional Artist Development Program. She received a scholarship to study as a dance major at Oral Robert’s University, graduating with a BA in Dance Performance. At ORU she had the pleasure of performing under local and guest artists such as Amy McIntosh, Roman Jasinski, David Parsons and Bill Evans. Chelsea thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to translate her love of dance through teaching at the Kansas Ballet School.
Black Belt Certified Nia Instructor
Nia has been moving my life since I stepped into my first class as a student in early 2001. In August of that year, I received my White Belt certification and began my teaching journey with Nia. In July, 2009, I became Black Belt certified. I am passionate about sharing the many joys and benefits of Nia with my students and love bringing Nia to new groups. Within Nia’s limitless possibilities, I have found other passions: working with women in cancer recovery and with patients at the Midwest Center for Eating Disorders at Research Medical Center.
I currently teach eight classes a week in the greater Kansas City area. For the past three years, I have presented movement sessions at retreats produced by Spirit Path at Unity World Headquarters in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, as well as women’s retreats and even a family reunion! Bringing Nia to the Todd Bolender Center is another highlight of my Nia journey. My claim to fame as a native Kansas Citian may be my experience as a member of the very first cheerleading squad for the Kansas City Chiefs. My family life includes my husband, two sons and daughters-in-law, three grandchildren and Molly, the dog.
Christina Burton is a graduate of the University of Missouri in Kansas City with a BFA in Dance with an emphasis in Musical Theatre. She is member of Actors Equity Association. Regional musical theatre credits include: Everyday Rapture(Regional Premier) – Lindsay/Mennonette, Cinderella - Ensemble, 1776 – Hewes/Dickinson, Kiss Me Kate – Hattie, The Man of La Mancha – Aldonza, The Most Happy Fella- Ensemble, Pippin – Player, Footloose – Urleen/Dance Captain, Working – Ensemble, Grease – Cha Cha, Cats – Exotica, Jekyll and Hyde – Lady of the Night. Christina has been a Guest Artist for Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company. She has choreographed and performed in numerous industrials with EPIC Entertainment Inc. and is the director/choreographer for Starlight Theatre’s Starlight STARS of Tomorrow. Her choreography credits include: A Christmas Cabaret, Jekyll and Hyde, Blood Brothers, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Working, The Most Happy Fella, Grease, Xanadu, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards and most recently Starlight’s Children’s Theatre production of Disney’s Aladdin at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. Christina is Adjunct at UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance and is also a certified ZUMBA® fitness instructor.
A native of Kansas City, Ms. Butterfield received a dance scholarship at the University of Missouri-Kansas city with the honors of receiving the UMKC Conservatory Chancellor’s Scholarship and graduated with a BFA in Dance. She has also received scholarships to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Gus Giordano and was accepted into the MidAmerica Dance Company. Ms. Butterfield has dance in ballets such as Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Carmina Burana. She has performed and competed nationally earning awards for her dancing and choreography. She has also appeared in the theatrical productions of Guys and Dolls and the Wizard of Oz. She has studied with Tatiana Dukoudovska, Mary Pat Henry, Paula Weber, Laura Reinschmidt, Gus Giordano and the late Leni Wylliams.
A graduate with distinction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Dance Division & L’Academia del Arte-Barcelona, Spain. Tamara was Artist-in-Residence for the University of Kansas and the Leavenworth public school system, as well as a faculty member of the Conservatory of Music UMKC 1994-2000. She was delighted to be on faculty with KCB’s Summer Intensive for the past three years and this will be her sixth year with the Kansas City Ballet School’s Academic program and begins the second year with adult instruction in the open adult flamenco classes.
Her performance resume includes work with the Frankfurt Opera of Germany, the Kansas City Lyric Opera, Salina Symphony and Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City & St Louis Guitar Societies and numerous festivals. She’s worked for decades throughout the area and region as a pioneer in bringing flamenco and Spanish dance to this area. Because of her experience as an educator and working artist, she was appointed to the Missouri Arts Council from 1994 to 1999. Tamara is currently on the Missouri Arts Council Touring Artist Roster with Ole’ Music and Dance of Spain, she performs as a guest artist with Ron Radford’s Viva Flamenco!, Las Tres Gitanas and Alma Flamenca.
Noelle originally received her dance training in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma, and danced with the Oklahoma Festival Ballet. Knowing she had an innate interest in dance medicine, Noelle received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Miami School of Medicine. Pilates has been a part of life since Noelle experienced a dance injury in 1992. This interest has blossomed into being nationally Pilates CertifiedTM and today Noelle works as a Polestar Pilates Principal Educator, teaching courses in Kansas City and across the country. Her dance medicine experience spans from Broadway shows to being on the Miami City Ballet therapy staff before moving to Kansas City in 2006. In addition to being on the Kansas City Ballet School staff and medical team, Noelle has guest taught across the US and in Mexico.
Sean Duus, a native of Mesquite Texas, began teaching in the Kansas City Ballet School in 1987. Sean received his early dance training from George Skibine, Marjorie Tallchief and Kevin Brown, and received scholarship offers from The School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Sean was a principal dancer in the Kansas City Ballet from 1986- 2001.He danced the principal male role in numerous ballets including: The Nutcracker, Coppelia, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Apollo, Con Amore, Combat, Sleeping Beauty, Serenade, The Still Point, An American in Paris and Firebird. He had the great opportunity to work with many great choreographers such as Todd Bolender, Alvin Ailey, Margo Sappington and Ann Reinking. Sean was certified as a teacher in Jacques D'Amboise's National Dance Institute teacher training program in Santa Fe in 2000, and teaches the Kansas City Ballet's "Reach Out and Dance" program which brings dance education to public schools in the Kansas City Area. He is a frequent teacher of master classes and Ballet workshops throughout the United States.
Kim is a co-founder of WordOne Arts, Inc., a Bible-based performing arts ministry for children in the greater Kansas City metro area, notably those with ongoing financial burden. She trained with Somerset Ballet in Prairie Village, KS followed by Louisiana Tech University in musical theater while earning her Early Childhood Education degree. She has taught preschool, specialized in early intervention for 0-36 month olds and directed children's ministries. Kim has choreographed youth and adult productions at churches, camps, schools, cultural arts centers, professional arts organizations and community theaters including Shawnee Mission’s The Theatre In the Park. She has been a certified personal trainer with The American Council on Exercise since 2000 and emphasizes training in Pilates Mat and Reformer. She is blessed to teach, raise her family and worship through performing arts.
Maureen's early ballet training came from Jane Pierce at the Somerset Ballet Centre. She studied at the Milwaukee and Joffrey Ballet schools, both on full scholarship. She attended the University of Kansas on full scholarship and received a BA in Dance. After graduation, she danced with the Dallas Dance Consortium and spent four seasons as a dancer in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in Myrtle Beach and Branson. She is so happy to be returning to teaching after taking time off to be a stay home mom to 4 lively children!
Patricia Gray is a 500 RYT and has taught yoga for 20 years. She began yoga in her teens studying with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She co-directed one of Kansas City’s first yoga studios, The Yoga Center, and in 1999 co-founded the Yoga Gallery. She spent six weeks in India with Rotary International allowing her a chance to study the roots of yoga. Patricia is certified to teach the Bikram Yoga system, she studied Ashtanga extensively and flowing, Vinyasa styles. Working for a chiropractor for 6 years afforded her skills to assist specific physical limitations and injuries. Her classes are a blend of styles (flow/vinyasa) emphasizing patient breathing. This allows for an accessible, meditative practice designed to heal. Patricia’s love of yoga, breathing, and meditation stems from experiencing and witnessing what a dedicated practice can create; full spectrum health benefits, inside out. (For information on her Meditation and breathing workshops, visit Beingontosomething.org)
Nadia Iozzo, originally from Toronto, Ontario, received the prestigious RAD Solo Seal Award before moving on to spend four years at Alberta Ballet. Now in her sixth season with Kansas City Ballet, Ms. Iozzo has performed leading roles in Balanchine's Serenade, and Who Cares?, Trey McIntyre’s The Naughty Boy and Yuri Possokhov’s Firebird; along with soloist roles in Ib Anderson’s Romeo & Juliet, Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, Paul Taylor’s Company B, and Peasant Pas in Giselle. She can be found in the CBC TV special The Secret of the Nutcracker, as well as the Jean Grand-Maître/Joni Mitchell production, The Fiddle & the Drum, which she performed as a guest artist at the Luminato Festival in Toronto. Miss Iozzo has adjudicated dance competitions, choreographed and taught for various dance schools across North America. She has also coached successful Solo Seal candidates, including dancers appearing on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. In July 2008, Miss Iozzo hosted Creating Dance For a Cure, a dance performance in Toronto that raised funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
Leslie Kelly studied ballet at the Somerset Ballet Centre in Prairie Village until graduating from high school. She continued her training in Topeka, KS at the June Landrith School of Ballet while completing her Bachelor's degree at Washburn University. She has attended the Joffrey Midwest Workshop summer program as well as dance workshops taught by David Howard and Rebecca Wright. She has danced with the Metropolitan Ballet of Topeka, Evansville Dance Theatre and Louisville Ballet. Leslie has been teaching ballet in Kansas City since 2000 and Prairie Village Campus Manager since 2004. Previously she was on the staff at Evansville Dance Theatre teaching Pre-Ballet through Advanced ballet students.
Flo Klenklen began her association with the Kansas City Ballet as a dancer under the direction of Tatiana Dokoudovska while earning a B.F.A. in dance and pedagogy at the Conservatory of Music, UMKC. In 1981 when Todd Bolender took over as artistic director and opened a school, Flo gladly hung up her pointe shoes when asked to teach and work as administrator for the school. Fueled by the great artists who helped Mr. Bolender organize the school: Diana Adams, Una Kai, Jonathan Watts, along with many guest teachers, Flo enjoyed teaching a full schedule, assisted in Nutcracker rehearsals, in Kansas City and St Louis, and organized summer courses in both cities. In 2000 Flo retired from the school and for the next five years organized a summer course in Crested Butte Colorado in conjunction with the company performing at the Crested Butte Music Festival under the direction of William Whitener.
Taryn began dancing in Iowa City, IA, at Terpsichore School of Dance and the University of Iowa Dance Forum, and continued her training in Kansas City at Somerset Ballet Centre and at the Kansas City Ballet School, as well as at various summer dance programs around the country. She has also had the privilege to train extensively in New York, at Steps On Broadway and at Peridance Capezio Center. Taryn has been teaching ballet for over eight years and is an American Ballet Theatre certified teacher, having successfully completed the ABT teacher training intensives in Primary through Level 7 and Partnering, of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Taryn is also a Pilates instructor, fully certified in mat and all equipment through Stott Pilates, as well as through the Kane School. She received her Pilates training and certifications in NYC, where she also attended the Functional Anatomy for Movement and Injuries (FAMI) workshop at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2010 and 2012. Taryn greatly enjoys teaching people of all ages and abilities, and is very happy to be a part of the Kansas City Ballet School.
Susan Lewis began her ballet training in Massachusetts under the direction of Jaqueline Cronsberg of The Ballet Workshop. She spent four summers studying at the School Of American Ballet before attending full time at age sixteen. Susan was hired by Todd Bolender to join the Kansas City Ballet in 1985 where she spent her entire career dancing various roles as a principal with the company. Susan began teaching for the Kansas City Ballet School in 1991, and continued teaching upon retirement with the company in 1996.
Caitlin (Cooney) Mack, a native of Seattle, trained at Pacific Northwest Ballet School for 11 years on full scholarship. She performed with the company in a variety of ballets includingThe Nutcracker, Cinderella and Don Quixote. Ms. Mack spent summers at the School of American Ballet and the Rock School of Pennsylvania. Since joining Kansas City Ballet, some of Ms. Mack's most memorable performances have been in Lambarena, Nine Sinatra Songs, As Time Goes By, The Moor's Pavane, Company B, Brahms Paganini, The Catherine Wheel Suite, Who Cares?,and the Cowgirl in Rodeo. Ms. Mack has also been a guest artist and guest teacher with Ballet Bellevue. In In 2007, she founded a Youth Theatre Camp in Seattle, Washington, where she enjoys creating performing opportunities, and educating youth on the importance of the arts. This will be Ms. Mack's tenth season with Kansas City Ballet, and 8th year teaching at Kansas City Ballet. She has found great joy performing as a professional ballet dancer, and loves teaching dancers of all ages at Kansas City Ballet.
Billie Mahoney, Kansas City native, nearly forty years in New York City with a performing career on the variety stage and in film and television. Highlights: featured act with Lionel Hampton and his band in night club and theater tours including New York’s Apollo Theater; personal appearances with Bob Hope; musical theater with Bob Fosse; featured with Ringling Bros. Circus at Madison Square Garden as champion baton twirler; USO in Korea and Japan. Major television includes The Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Arthur Godfrey and Friends, Caesar’s Hour, and The Tonight Show. Danced with Gregory Hines at the Folly Theater, 2001, where he called her a “Legend in tap dance”; Featured in the Palm Springs Follies, California, 2002-03.
Teaching highlights: Modern Jazz and tap dance classes in NYC Broadway studios (25 years); the dance faculty of The Juilliard School where she assisted José Limon and directed the Limon Dance Company on tour of the Soviet Union; taught at universities world wide: Queens College, CUNY (1973-76); associate professor and Coordinator of Dance, Northern Illinois University (1989-92); a Labanotation specialist, has notated works of Balanchine, De Mille, José Greco, Bob Fosse and Jack Cole. Master’s Degree in Media Studies, The New School, NYC, 1982. Currently: adjunct UMKC Conservatory of Music & Dance, and on faculty at City In Motion. Producer/host of cable TV show, DANCE ON: with Billie Mahoney, which aired fifteen years in New York City, now produced at the Todd Bolender Center airing on the UMKC cable channel 17, KHEN. Hosts bi-monthly Jazz Tap Jams at the Uptown Arts Bar.
Peggy Ply started ballet training in McAllen, TX at the age of 8 training for 11 years with Mary Kathryn Daugherty a former member of Ballet Russe. Peggy graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in dance. After dancing throughout Texas and Mexico, Peggy relocated to Kansas City and began dancing with Victoria Smith Company and would later become one of eight in the professional wing of what in now Kansas City Ballet founded by Tatiana Dodoudovska. She was also was one of the original dancers with Westport Ballet where she also taught and choreographed. Other teaching credits include Somerset Ballet under the direction of Jane Pierce and the University of Kansas City Missouri. She was casted as The Mother in Mona Enna’s “Butterfly” with Starling Dance Theater and was casted in “Anela en Rouge” a documentary directed by Kansas City native, Cara Myers. Peggy praises God for her health, a long career, and her family who gives her love and support.
Stephanie received her early dance training at Somerset Ballet Centre in Prairie Village, Kansas under the direction of Jane Pierce. Her studies continued at Milwaukee Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and as a scholarship recipient at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Stephanie earned her Bachelor of Science in Arts Administration with a concentration in Dance Performance on scholarship at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. While attending Butler, Stephanie danced with the Butler Ballet Company, Ballet Internationale, the Indianapolis Opera, and Dance New Amsterdam (formally Dance Space Center) in New York City. Upon the completion of her undergraduate degree, Stephanie returned to Kansas City to work and teach with Kansas City Ballet during the original acquisition of Somerset Ballet, now the Johnson County Campus. Stephanie continued teaching dance throughout Oklahoma and Tennessee before completing her Masters in Business Administration at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee. She is thrilled to be back home in Kansas City and once again teaching at the Kansas City Ballet School.
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, BalletMet, and had the unique experience of appearing as a guest artist with the National Ballet of Turkmenistan. Notable roles Owen has danced include the title role in Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote, principal roles in George Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Serenade, and Donizetti Variations, and the central pas de deux in Todd Bolender's Arena. Owen is Artistic Director, dancer, and choreographer for the Owen/Cox Dance Group. She has choreographed over thirty-five new works for the 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.
Tina Ray has fond memories of her first ballet class at the age of 3 with Gardner Schneider-Cole in Slidell, LA. As a young student she danced with the Picayune Ballet Company and performed throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, including the1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. She studied dance at the University of Southern Mississippi before opening her own school of dance where she directed the Picayune Youth Ballet Company for 10 years. She received her teacher’s training from the International Ballet School in Jackson, MS and enjoyed spending several summers studying ballet in New York with various teachers. She danced with the New Orleans Ballet, under the direction of Allison Gonzales from 1994 to 1999. Tina enjoyed dancing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Billy the Kid, and Sleeping Beauty as The Lilac Fairy. Tina’s students were often featured in the New Orleans Ballet’s performances. While with the New Orleans Ballet, she enjoyed teaching and performing with the outreach program for the Orleans Parish Public Schools which brought dance education and appreciation to elementary school students who would not otherwise have the opportunity. Tina loves sharing her lifelong passion of ballet with her students. She is thrilled and honored to be teaching for The Kansas City Ballet School.
Suzanne Ryan Strati
M. Suzanne Ryan Strati studied ballet under George de la Pena, Todd Bolender, and Una Kai and modern under Bill Evans, Armando Duarte, David Dorfman, Tyrone Aiken, Alan Sener, and Bella Lewitsky. At the age of 19 she had her first professional dance contract under Neil Hess in Texas. Later she toured with the Bill Evans Dance Company, performing modern, jazz, and rhythmic tap in the United States and Japan. Suzanne studied Evans, Limon, Horton, Cunningham, Graham and Falco modern dance techniques. Suzanne holds a Master’s of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography from the University of Iowa, where she studied dance pedagogy in modern and ballet, and taught modern dance and tap for 3 years. Her continued interest in education led her to the Bill Evans Summer Teacher’s Intensive, Avodah: Dance Midrash with JoAnne Tucker and sessions with Carol Roderick of Colorado State University. Suzanne’s choreography has been performed in eight states (including New York) and internationally, most recently in London and at the Lone Star Ballet in Texas. Suzanne directed 3 dance companies including her own company called Ryanstrati & Company featuring dancers with and without disabilities, which is her passion.
Erin Sexton fell in love with dance at age 3, realizing she could make her Mom laugh to the point of tears just by shaking her hips. Sidetracked when her studio closed at age 11, Erin fell in love with dance once again as a Theatre Major in College. She began studying with Natalie Rast and at Joel Hall in Chicago while performing with the Piven Theatre Workshop and at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Since then, Erin has taught dance and yoga and led dance theatre workshops for students of all ages. Erin feels blessed to be teaching at KCBS.
Lisa is a former ballet and modern dancer who performed professionally with local dance companies starting with the Kansas City Civic Ballet (now known as the Kansas City Ballet). During this time she received her dance education through UMKC’s Conservatory of Dance under the leadership of Tatianna Dokoudovska, the founder of the Kansas City Civic Ballet. In later years, her dance experience continued with Westport Ballet and City in Motion. She has also performed with the Lyric Opera,Missouri Repertory Theater, as well as in Starlight Theater productions. After many
years of performing, she turned her passion for dance towards choreography and staging of various local productions, most recently The American Girl Fashion Show. Lisa is a Stott’s Pilates instructor, trained in Mat, Reformer, and Cadillac.
Tracy Terstriep enjoyed a long career as a dancer and actress in New York City, Los Angeles and on national an international tours. Her credits include leads and features on Broadway stages, in film, television and commercials. Ms. Terstriep got her professional start working for Disney, as a Radio City “Rockette” and in the first national tour of The Will Rogers Follies. Theatrical highlights include the original Tony award winning companies of Fosse, A Christmas Carol, and The Producers (understudy to the tony award-winning lead “Ulla”). She has worked closely with the current Broadway choreographers Jerry Mitchell, Susan Stroman, Andy Blankenbeuhler and Sergio Trujillo, as well as with the legends Tommy Tune, Gwen Verdon, Ann Reinking, and Donald Sadler. In addition Ms. Terstriep is a classically trained actress. She has studied and worked with the Public Theatre/NY Shakespeare Festival and Wynn Handman of the American Place Theatre. Her choreography can be seen in the PBS Emmy-nominated Winter Dreams: The F.Scott Fitzgerald Story, in the independent film True Bromance and in sketches on The David Letterman Show. At the university and conservatory level she has taught master classes in theater and dance. She has served as adjudicator for aspiring performing artists nation wide. Tracy now resides in K.C. with husband Pete Herber and their two young children, is finishing a Masters degree in Theatre History and Dramaturgy at UMKC.
Lisa Thorn Vinzant
Lisa received the majority of her training as a scholarship student at the North Carolina School of the Arts. She is also a graduate of the University of Missouri, Conservatory of Music and Dance with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Lisa danced for the Kansas City Ballet from 1988-2005, performing a wide variety of principal roles and revered for her artistry and musicality. In 2004, she became the Associate Ballet Mistress for the Kansas City Ballet and served in that position until 2008, when her son was born. Lisa has also danced professionally with the Albany/Berkshire Ballet, Owen/Cox Dance Group, Pennsylvania Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Starlight Theatre , Wylliams/Henry Danse Theatre and Quixotic Fusion. She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. In addition to her dancing and teaching career, Lisa has choreographed for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's 2010 production of Rigoletto, Kansas City Ballet’s “Ballet In the Park” and "In the Wings" series, the Lee’s Summit Symphony “Holiday Magic”, and the Kansas City Youth Ballet. In 2005 Lisa was invited to attend the Craft of Choreography Conference as an emerging choreographer.
Leanna (Doughty) Uniak
Leanna Uniak is a graduate from the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music where she was a dance major and received her BFA (bachelor degree of fine arts). At the University of Cincinnati Leanna studied classical ballet and modern dance, under the instruction of Carol Iwasaki, Oleg Sabline and James Truitte. Leanna has been teaching in Kansas City since 1996 years. She began teaching with Jane Pierce at Somerset Ballet School which was later acquired by the Kansas City Ballet School. She greatly enjoys teaching ballet, modern and choreographing.
During her professional career, Ms. Weber performed solo and principal roles in more than 45 major works, which include such classics as Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and Coppelia and contemporary works such as Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, de Mille’s Fall River Legend, Butler’s Carmina Burana, and Ailey’s The River. She has been a member of the Milwaukee Ballet (principal), the Lyric Opera of Chicago (soloist), Chicago Ballet and the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre.
Her choreography has been performed by the Kansas City Ballet, Albany Berkshire Ballet, Kansas Regional Ballet and Wylliams/Henry Danse Theatre. Ms. Weber received her BA degree in dance from Butler University and her MFA degree from Smith College and has studied ballet with such masters as Maria Tallchief, Jean Paul Comelin, Dermot Burke, Basil Thompson, Marjorie Mussman and Maggie Black.
Mr. Bates is a songwriter/arranger who studied at UMKC with Gerald Kemner (composition) and Ruth Ann Rich (piano.) Mr. Bates brings a unique creative energy to the ballet classroom in that he has composes many of the pieces he uses in class. His standard repertoire is drawn from a large source of influences and styles in order to give students a variety of musical experiences. Mr. Bates also serves as the Assistant Choir Director /Accompanist for the Center School District and is the pianist for the First Baptist Church of Independence. He has played for KCBS since 1999.
If you’ve ever wondered who sings that “Shawnee Mission Kia!” commercial, Sam does. A graduate of William Jewell College with a Bachelor of Science in Theory/Composition and Piano Performance, he has also written music for numerous TV/Radio spots as well.
As a composer, he has published two instrumental works with several more being prepared for submission. As a pianist, for six years he accompanied the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts’ Ballet Department, with even more time invested into church music from the age of 12. He is an accompanist with the Lyric Opera Education Office and continues to play for various vocal studies, recitals, festivals, contests and concerts. During the summers out at Kauffman Stadium, pay special attention to the house organist! Sam lives in the Brookside area of Kansas City with his wife, Ana, and their four teenage children.
Irina Brouhard was born in the southern Ural Mountains of Central Russia. She began playing the piano at the age of 7. She attended Magnitogorsk College of Music graduating Suma Cum Laude and was only one of only 20 accepted at Novosibirsk Conservatory of Music. After graduation, Irina went to the Armenian University as Concert Master for the Choral Department. In 1998, Irina accepted a position at the Magnitogorsk Ballet and Opera Theater as a Concertmaster but quickly rose to the position of Artistic Director. Irina also was Concertmaster at Magnitogorsk Conservatory of Music, a member of the Philharmonic Society of both Magnitogorsk and Chelyabinsk, and performed all over the Ural region and Siberia, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Bridget Clonts moved to Kansas City in 2006 and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in piano from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. She received a Bachelor of Music in piano with honors from UMKC in 2010 under the tutelage of Dr. Jane Solose. Having won awards on the state and regional levels, she remains active as a collaborative and solo pianist. Her work as an accompanist for the dance department at the UMKC Conservatory has led to an interest in ballet accompanying, which she continues to pursue through her work at UMKC and KCBS.
Ms. Inna Daniels was born in the former Soviet Union and earned her Master of Arts in Piano from the Baku Conservatory of Music. Her principal training was in solo piano performance, accompaniment and music instruction, with further studies in music composition. Prior to moving to Kansas City she worked as a musical educator, and an accompanist for the state rhythmic gymnastics team, as well as a ballet company. She also worked as a principal pianist at the National Academic Theatre and College of Ballet in Armenia. Inna has been an employee of the Kansas City Ballet (formerly State Ballet of Missouri) since September of 1993. She is employed as a professional musical accompanist for both the training academy and the ballet company. She has also worked for ballet companies such as Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Salt Creek Ballet in Chicago, Houston Ballet and Miami City Ballet.
Jennifer Edmondson is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Music Composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory (UMKC). A recipient of UMKC’s Graduate Award in Ballet Accompanying, she currently accompanies intermediate and advanced classes for the Dance Division. Beyond this education, Jennifer has benefited richly from studying with Ramona Pansegrau, current music director of the Kansas City Ballet. In addition to her work as a ballet pianist, Jennifer is an active soloist. She has performed with the Des Moines, Fort Dodge, and Iowa State University Symphonies, with performances featured on WOI Radio (an Iowa Public Radio station). She currently studies with Dr. Robert Weirich. Jennifer has also been recognized as a composer, receiving several awards from the Iowa Composers Forum and an honorarium from the Musical Analysis Creative Research Organization in 2008. While at UMKC, she has studied composition with Dr. James Mobberley, Dr. Chen Yi, Dr. Paul Rudy and Dr. Zhou Long.
Mr. Puckett has been performer in many musical venues from the Classical Concert stage to the Rock Music Arena, and has worked with several ballet schools in Santa Cruz, CA and the University of California. A working musician for over 30 years, he is also a Studio Owner/Engineer in North Kansas City and a Sound Designer supporting the Electronic Music Industry. A composer as well as a pianist, Will has many original pieces, arrangements, and music for dance and film ranging from whimsical to more serious moods.
Ms. Tyson grew up on a farm in SW Kansas and after graduating from Tabor College in Hillsboro, KS went on to study at the Conservatory of Music at UMKC earning a M.M. degree in Piano Performance, having studied with Dr. Ruth Anne Rich. She has taught private piano for over 40 years and enjoys teaching all ages with various levels of skill. Music/Arts Institute in Independence includes Ms. Tyson as one of their contracted accompanists. In addition to her accompanying and teaching career, she continues to enjoy solo performances at the Independence Music Club and as the accompanist for the Jacomo Chorale. She considers it an honor to have been involved in the well-known Multiple Piano Festival in Independence for four years as a teacher, coach, and parent of students in performance. Her community involvement includes accompanying several classes at the renowned K.C. Ballet School and for the Jacomo Chorale. Besides the joy of musical interaction with gifted and inspiring musicians, Ms. Tyson enjoys being a part of the KC Ballet School because it allows her to observe the developing personalities and progress of the Pre-Ballet and Children’s classes. She is privileged to be the rehearsal accompanist for the Messiah Festival Chorus in Independence for 30 years and will be so excited to perform vocally with the chorale at the Kaufmann Performing Arts Center under the direction of Maestro Steven Jarvi.