“Miss Tania loved her students dearly, but she did demand perfection,” remembers Wendy Powell. “If she knew you had talent she was really hard on you.”
Wendy’s involvement with the Ballet has now spanned decades. She led the Ballet’s board, as well as an important search committee for Artistic Director William Whitener. She was very involved on the search committee for Todd Bolender prior to that. She believes her passion for the art form and her investment of time and money over the years has been a labor of love that started with a simple desire to make sure Kansas City had a ballet company to round out the performing arts offerings of the growing city.
Wendy recently discussed her memories of Kansas City Ballet Founder, Tatiana Dokoudovska. Miss Tania, as she was affectionately known, moved to Kansas City in the 50s. She had been offered a position with the Conservatory to lead their new dance major program. But she also had a goal to start a civic ballet company. Wendy began taking ballet classes as a young married adult student as part of the Conservatory’s continuing education classes. Miss Tania was her teacher.
“I think of her in her all white outfit. White leotard, white skirt, white sweater, her hair in a perfect bun and carrying her stick,” Wendy says. “She was strict in the classroom.”
Wendy remembers how hard Miss Tania worked to put on performances from Nutcracker to the spring shows. No matter what was going onstage, she put her all into it. “I remember the first time I saw her Nutcracker it was onstage at Southwest High School.”
She also recalls how Miss Tania’s passion drove her and inspired students and parents to pitch in to help. “She was strict in the classroom, but once class was over, she had such a caring way about her. The mothers and fathers supported her endeavors. There was a lot of parental involvement and even from the dance division students from the Conservatory.”
More About Miss Tania
As an adult student, Wendy really got to know Miss Tania and eventually was invited to join the board for the Kansas City Civic Ballet (which later became Kansas City Ballet).
“Miss Tania, her idealism and passion for the art form, instilled something in anyone who danced for her, from children to adults like me. I was in a unique place because we had a duel relationship not just as a student,” Wendy believes.
Miss Tania was deeply committed to her Russian heritage. When she was nearing the end of her career, she asked Wendy and the board to find a new Artistic Director. They discovered Todd Bolender. Todd brought his Balanchine influence with him, which fit so nicely on the strong Russian foundation Miss Tania had built.
Asked what she thought Miss Tania would think about the path the Company has taken, Wendy was happy to share. “She would have been so pleased with all of the changes. With William Whitener who succeeded Todd, she would have appreciated all of the different choreographers and variety of styles and works. And now with Devon Carney leading, he has gone back to full length ballets which would be near and dear to her heritage. And she would be in awe of the Kauffman Center and the Ballet’s Bolender Center.”
Miss Tania’s Library
At the Bolender Center, there is a Tatiana Dokoudovska Library for Dance display case just past the front desk. It displays her personal books and even some personal items for visitors to see. “I love the tribute collection at the Bolender Center and its archives recognizing her as the founder. She and Todd formed the roots and the backbone of this company,” Wendy says.
The Ballet continues to honor her memory and her legacy. Miss Tania has been selected as the 2020 Nutcracker Ball Honorary Chairman in Memoria.
Interested in sharing your own Miss Tania memories?
Those who knew Miss Tania usually have a story. She had a lot of presence. She even spoke four languages. If you have a memory of Miss Tania that you’d like to share with us, please email email@example.com. We’d love to know more!
Support the 2020 Nutcracker Ball
Each year, the Nutcracker Ball celebrates Kansas City Ballet and the artistry of dance. This year’s gala will still go on, but it will be like no other in the Guild’s history. The 2020 Nutcracker Ball will present a private broadcast event on November 21!
Honor Her Legacy
For more information about becoming a member and the different ways you can support Kansas City Ballet through The Tatiana Dokoudovska Legacy Society, please contact Rebecca Zandarski, CFRE, CSPG at 816.216.5597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.