Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) is raising its international profile with the enrollment of three Bulgarian students in its Daytime Program. KCBS’s Daytime Program is in its second year, but already it’s making a name for itself.
In its inaugural year, the program ended with 27 students. Three of those 27, have graduated and been accepted into Second Companies of professional ballet companies or have been invited into prestigious college dance programs. This fall there are 29 as the school year begins. Of those, more than half have returned for their second year. Six decided to join the Daytime Program after attending the recent Summer Intensive in 2017. Three joined from within the KCBS family and four were new to the school entirely. Students in this year’s program represent seven states including: Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, and Texas; and, as mentioned, the country of Bulgaria.
The KCBS Daytime Program
Just what is the Daytime Program? It’s a program for qualifying students who have not only shown promise as dancers, but who are passionate about becoming professional dancers at some point. The program gives students the chance to put dance in the forefront of their days when their energy is at its best. Students are responsible for their own academics, outside of class. Most join an online school program and focus on their studies during breaks, in the evenings and on the weekends.
The youngest participants were 10 when they joined the program last year, making them 11 now. Overall the program allows for 5 to 8 extra hours of training each week. And in addition, many of the students aged 14 and older also participate in Kansas City Youth Ballet (the performing group for the school) and/or the Youth America Grand Prix competition.
“If you have a student enrolled in the Daytime Program, dancing as part of KCYB, and participating in Youth America Grand Prix competition, they are going to be dancing around 33 hours per week. And many of our students are doing just that,” says KCBS Director Grace Holmes. “This program doesn’t take anything away from traditional ballet school training that happens in the evenings and on weekends, but it does give an option that many students and their families are very excited about.”
Drawing Students from Outside KC
Of the Daytime Program students, there are five that moved to KC to participate and at least one of their parents made the move with them. Another five have come on their own without a parent and now live with host families or on their own because they are at least 18. And then you have the three Bulgarians who also live with host families.
Mina Stoyanova (17), Iren Veleva (15) and Simeon Atanasov (16) all danced at the same ballet school in Bulgaria. Two years ago UMKC Conservatory of Dance’s Paula Weber (who often guest teaches at KCBS’s Summer Intensive program) was guest teaching at their school in Bulgaria. She identified their talent and encouraged them to attend KCBS’s 2016 Summer Intensive. Mina and Iren came in the summer of 2016. And Mina returned to KC in January of 2017 to begin the program. Iren waited another year since she was younger. Simeon waited to attend the 2017 Summer Intensive at KCBS and he and Iren decided to begin their full-time education here this year.
When asked why they would travel so far for ballet training, the three agreed: “Because the training here is very good. We really like the classes and that we dance all day.” Simeon also mentioned, “I really like that we have a male Russian teacher.”
These students will travel home for holiday breaks and will be tested over academics then. They are learning their basics through text books on their own while in KC.
One thing is certain, the Daytime Program is here to stay. And with it, Kansas City Ballet is closer to fulfilling its mission to be “Always On” with programming happening all day every day the building is open.