Kansas City Ballet Board President Jack Rowe was first introduced to the ballet at the Westport Allen Center, a dilapidated building that was once an elementary school nearly identical to the one he’d attended himself.
“I was invited to attend a lunch with then Artistic Director Todd Bolender, which was followed by watching some of the Ballet’s rehearsal,” remembers Jack. “I’m almost sure they rehearsed in what would have at one time been the Kindergarten room.”
But that didn’t stop Jack from being strongly affected by the experience. “You can’t be that close to the dancers and not realize they are athletes,” Jack emphasizes. “My wife took classes from Miss Tania (KC Ballet’s founder).”
After that visit, Jack and his wife and mother-in-law began attending the Ballet. They became season ticket holders and then donors. Around 10 years ago, he joined the board and this past year he was excited to take the lead.
The 2019-2020 Season
“I’ve been honored and proud this past year to lead this board which oversees a wonderful organization from top to bottom—an organization with not only excellent executive and artistic leadership and staff but also professional artistic performers who are dedicated to their craft,” he says.
This 2019-2020 season was on track to be another successful year in the history of the Ballet.
“Our fall show, Carmina Burana was well received and The Nutcracker brought in eager and excited audiences, as it does each year. The beautiful Swan Lake followed with bonus performances and great reviews. All seemed to be on target for another great year when tragedy unexpectedly struck with the national COVID-19 pandemic. It has had a particular effect on the performing arts. And our Ballet is no exception,” Jack admits.
When asked about how the Ballet’s board is responding to this challenge, Jack maintains: “They are grasping this, understand the seriousness of it, and are not running away. I haven’t had anyone wanting to resign from this board. Instead they are asking, “What can we do?” I feel confident that eventually we’ll come out of this and the board will be stronger for it.”
“I’m also so proud of our organization’s immediate professional response at all levels which has been directed toward the preservation of this 60+ year organization for time to come. More importantly I’m proud of the emphasis on the safety of our staff, company, audience and students.”
Jack knows this pandemic and its effects will continue to be a challenge going forward and will call upon the organization, the supporters in the community, and the board in particular, to see this through together.
“I have always thought Kansas City Ballet’s longtime goal to become ‘a destination for dance’ was a pretty good one. Our plan has been to attract the best performers and to perform the best works and expand within our community,” Jack says. “Based on a very glorious past and a solid foundation I am very confident in our future.”
After all, he says: “I was born in KC. I’ve grown up here in KC. I’m not planning on going anywhere. And neither is the Ballet.”
Photo Credit: KCB Dancers Liang Fu and Danielle Bausinger with Paula Rowe and KCB Board President Jack Rowe. Photographer: Larry F. Levenson.