Barbara Nash credits her Grandmother with cultivating her love of the arts. Growing up in Chicago, Barbara’s grandmother took her to many arts events including the symphony, plays, and the ballet. At the age of 6, Barbara began ballet lessons. She continued the lessons until age 10.
These early experiences made a strong impression on her. When Barbara married Bob Nash in 1979, Bob was active on Kansas City Ballet’s board. He brought her into the fold and they served on the board together for two years. “I fell in love with ballet all over again,” she recalls.
Kansas City Ballet had just hired New York City Ballet Alum Todd Bolender as Artistic Director. The first introduction of the company under Todd was a gala. And the first thing anyone saw was Todd Bolender’s presentation of George Balachine’s Serenade. “The stage was a beautiful blue color with white costumes,” Barbara remembers. “I had gotten to watch the dress rehearsal where tears just started coming down my cheeks. It’s the most fabulous ballet!” She again was moved to tears when she saw Serenade for only the second time last October during the company’s return to the Muriel Kauffman stage at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It had been 20 months since the company had performed there due to the pandemic.
Barbara remembers when Muriel Kauffman was on the Ballet’s board with them. “We were all one board, we all contributed. Bob and I loved being part of all of it. We worked hard and felt valued. And we did anything and everything,” she says. “We were learning so much about ballet, attending rehearsals and talking with dancers. Todd would come to our house for dinners. Looking back, we were so lucky to be in that position,” Barbara admits.
Barbara and Bob spent many years enjoying ballet together. They also financially supported the Ballet. “Bob would say, ‘If you learn something, it’s worth every dime’,” she says. “You guys have no idea the impact you have. I learn something new and incredible every time.”
“I get so much in return. I’m not a wealthy person, but I am so very grateful and I learn a lot. I’m happy to help as best as I can, as often as I can. Please understand I’m the one who’s benefitting here,” she emphasizes.
As her grandmother did before her, Barbara has nurtured a love of the arts in her sons and grandchildren. And, as she knows, what a difference that can make to future audiences.
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Top Photo: Barbara Nash with her son attending a 2021 performance of Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by: Grace Ingham