Kansas City Ballet continues its history of creativity
Val workshopped Jekyll & Hyde at Kansas City Ballet on three different occasions, which gave him easy access to continue his collaboration with Ramona and add in the KCB dancers.
“I was lucky enough to work closely with Val and Ramona in the creation of this ballet before and after it premiered in Finland,” KCB Company Dancer Emily Mistretta stated recently. “Creating (the character of) Nellie with Val was such a seamless collaboration, trying out steps to see how they felt in the body, listening to what he was looking for from her movement quality, but most especially what she brings to the story.”
KCB Company Dancer Cameron Thomas, playing the role of Mr. Hyde, also feels fortunate to have been one of just a few KCB dancers who was part of the early choreographic process with Val.
“Seeing many of those ideas that we developed now manifested in the full work makes the ballet feel that much more personal,” Cameron remarked. “Val has brilliant instincts for drama. He leaves room for our ideas and help from the other members of the artistic team when explaining our characters, and I think the result will be something you do not want to miss!”
The time with KCB provided Val with a video of segments of Jekyll & Hyde which he then shopped to ballet companies who might want to fully produce the ballet. Finnish National Ballet was incredibly interested in putting this ballet on stage. Due to travel restrictions in the US and Finland caused by COVID-19, Ramona could not travel to continue working on the ballet. She resorted to daily Zoom calls with Val as well as the conductor, music librarians and musicians in Finland to discuss and refine the score to ensure that the parts fit exactly for Val’s choreography.
Val continued his choreography with the Finnish dancers virtually from San Francisco. He created with them in the middle of the night due to the time difference. When he finally arrived in Finland, he had to quarantine for two weeks in his hotel room, even though he was across the street from the theatre.
After weeks of rehearsal, Jekyll & Hyde had its world premiere in Finland on November 6, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.
Ramona Pansegrau: A Kansas City Treasure
Dancers require continuity in a score to know what’s next. By prioritizing and arranging the music so intentionally, Val and Ramona could ensure that the musical score was seamless and could be performed live. In addition to editing and arranging, Ramona also ensured that ballet companies everywhere could secure the music rights and royalties at the lowest cost possible to bring this production to the stage.
“Val has choreographed an absolutely fantastic ballet, and I’m very proud of how it sounds,” Ramona remarked. “And it’s not just that the music sounds wonderful, it’s the way it’s put together. It just fits hand in glove with the choreography. I’m excited and thrilled that we get to do it here, and that Kansas City audiences get to see it.”
Jekyll & Hyde is so riveting you may want to see it twice! From the elaborate sets and costumes to Ramona’s amazing musical arrangement to Val’s thoughtful storytelling, this is a must-see ballet. Bring a friend and experience the genius of Val and Ramona as this never-before-seen in the U.S. production embarks on its North American journey where it all began: Kansas City.
“Val had raving standing ovations every night in Finland, so I am just thrilled to be the person to conduct the North American premiere. Jekyll & Hyde is near and dear to my heart. I am so proud of the end-product,” Ramona says.
Tickets are available here.