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meet kc ballet hero bradley clarke
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Meet KC Ballet Hero Bradley Clarke

A longtime lover of learning, music, and arts, Bradley Clarke only recently began attending Kansas City Ballet and Kansas City Symphony events at the Kauffman Center.

Bradley’s eldest three grandchildren: Travis, Kylie, and Eila

“I was trying to figure out interesting things to do with my five grandchildren. So a couple of years ago, when Kansas City Ballet announced they were performing Peter Pan, I took my three oldest grandchildren. None of us had been to the Ballet before. I was so impressed and they so enjoyed it. That’s when I fell in love with ballet,” Bradley remembers.

Since then I have been to all of the performances with family members including grandchildren, his daughter, and his daughter-in-law.


Bradley credits much of his love for the arts to his mother, Dr. Ann Efner Clarke. She inspired in him from an early age a love of learning and of music and arts.

In his youth, music was a big influence. Bradley played the clarinet. His mother had a rule about practicing every day. He was required to practice for 30 minutes each weekday and 45 minutes each weekend day. At one point, he thought he didn’t want to play the clarinet anymore and he broke it in half. While waiting weeks for it to be repaired, he was excited his plan had worked.

Unbeknownst to him, however, his mother had tracked all of the practices he missed. So when he his instrument was returned to him, she increased his practice by 15 minutes each day until he made up for the interruption. It was a valuable lesson in a discipline that Bradley has carried with him throughout his life.


“I think the dancing is beautiful. I love the music. I love the atmosphere at the Kauffman Center. My family and I love going there almost every Sunday afternoon. The beauty, the athleticism, and I enjoy reading the bios of dancers and learning how long and hard they’ve worked. It’s so impressive. It’s hard not to be amazed at their accomplishments,” Bradley admits.

Bradley can relate to hard work. He worked in restaurants since the age of 16. So, it wasn’t surprising that he chose a career as a chef. He also stoked his other interests by reading on an array of subjects. In his own way and his own time, he educated himself. This was yet another habit based on the values his mother passed down to him: pride in a varied education.

After more than 35 years in the restaurant industry, he decided it was time to focus on his role of grandfather. So, he shifted his career to one with hours more conducive to children and became an elementary school bus driver.

Bradley with his three granddaughters: Kylie, Eila, and Jane.


Bradley and his grandchildren were all entranced by Swan Lake. Some attended more than one performance. He loves that they are so enamored by the beautiful stories and talent they are seeing on stage, and he hopes that these seeds of enjoyment will grow into a lasting appreciation for the art form and the organization.


Bradley admits the Ballet receives most of his philanthropic contributions. “It makes me feel good every time I donate.”

“Both Kansas City Ballet and Kansas City Symphony provide so much to the city. Ticket sales only make up a fraction of the costs of doing business. And I am just so impressed with ballet and just love going to see it. I am in awe of the talent and work involved. I believe arts are valuable tools to teach people and they need the support,” he says. “I can’t believe I’m in my 60s and just discovering them.”

When asked what is his hope for the future of Kansas City Ballet, Bradley says: “I hope it’s here forever. As long as I can shuffle up the stairs, I’ll be there, too.”


What motivates you? Inspired by the beauty of dance or providing educational experiences for children? Maybe you remember how dance or dance training changed your life and want to share that with others? Or, perhaps youd like to help Keep the Ballet on our Toes by donating to the 2020 Relief and Recovery Fund.

Whatever your reason, we are ready to help make your gift mean something. Visit our donations page or contact Brent Kimmi, Director of Individual Giving at 913.205.0999 to share your hope to become a KCB Hero.


Header Photo: Bradley Clarke and his daughter Kourtney.

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