The 2019-2020 season was an unprecedented whirlwind. Rather than let it get her down, Company dancer Whitney Huell chooses to reflect on the joys it provided and to look ahead with hope for what is to come.
Looking Back at the Season
“In last fall’s performance, I was in the first cast of Helen Pickett’s Petal, the second cast of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Tulips and Lobster, and Adam Hougland’s Carmina Burana. I enjoyed how vastly different each piece was. Petal required an intense connection to story and an involved interaction with the other dancers in the work. Tulips and Lobster was lighthearted, fun and witty and Carmina evoked a more stoic presentation and angular movements,” Whitney recalls.
In Petal, which was visually stunning as the stage is filled with intense color, Whitney could be sassy. Audiences really responded to some of the more jaw-dropping moves like when Whitney was tossed into the air by two dancers. “So many moments in the ballet made me feel as if I could fly,” she gushes. “In the finale I had the freedom to jump as far and as high as I could.”
The Nutcracker followed in December and was again filled with intense roles for Whitney, including a reprisal of the Sugar Plum Fairy role she had earned in 2018.
However, in February, she had no idea that Swan Lake would be the last performances of the season.
“I definitely think the 2020 performance of Swan Lake was an accomplishment for the entire company, especially the female dancers. It meant a lot to me to perform this ballet for the third time. My experience this time around was different than the last in that I was a Big Swan (Lead Swan) and four years ago I was a Little Swan (Cygnet). This change kept things fresh and offered a new and welcomed challenge for me. Swan Lake was a marathon that we finished strong,” Whitney asserts.
Looking Toward the Future
Since the pandemic began, her apartment has become her studio, equipped with a subfloor and Marley to safely dance at home. Yoga, Pilates and modified ballet classes have kept her physically and mentally healthy.
Whitney appreciates those who donate to Kansas City Ballet, especially right now. “Donors are heroes. They make it possible for dancers to preserve the integrity, evolution and beauty of our art form,” she says.
As for the future, Whitney has no doubts that dance will return stronger than ever.
“The future of dance is for everyone to enjoy,” Whitney says. “And, I’m hopeful we will be performing again soon.”
Photo Credit: Dancer Whiteny Huell and Lamin Pereira in Helen Pickett’s Petal. Photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.