Vicki Baxter began her love of dance at the age of 5 in Pennsylvania. She and her mother would drive 50 miles to Pittsburgh to see professional ballet performances in the 1950s and 60s. Vicki loved to watch the dancers. She also took ballet lessons for years. Both experiences are what she credits with cementing her interest in the arts.
Vicki says, “I know the dedication it takes, and that’s why I admire dancers so much.”
In the early 70s, Vicki lived in Kansas City and worked as a flight attendant with TWA. She began attending Kansas City Ballet performances and taking ballet classes with former company dancer Elizabeth Hard Simms. She continued taking classes from Simms for 35 years. Then 6 years ago she started taking tap classes offered at Kansas City Ballet. Of those she says, “It’s so much fun!”
PART OF THE GUILD
It was during an intermission in 1982 or 1983 when Vicki saw fliers for the Kansas City Ballet Guild and decided to join. She attended meetings when she could and volunteered to work at the Guild’s Boutique at performances. In 1989 Vicki quit flying and decided to become a season subscriber and to head up Guild committees. “It was a good fit for me after I quit working. We did work hard but had a lot of fun and I made some wonderful friends.”
Vicki was president in 1996-1997, ballet ball chair in 2001, and she received the pirouette award in 2007. “I’ve always loved it! It’s such a great group of people,” Vicki remembers. “When I was Ballet ball chair, my husband Bruce helped me so much. He has been so supportive of me in my love for this organization. He’s come to a lot of ballet balls over the years.”
In the early days, the Ballet had very few administrative staff, so the Guild was vital to the organization’s survival.
“In 1990 we didn’t have start-up money for the ball, so we sold raffle tickets,” Vicki recalls. “I was the raffle chair. I spent hours and hours on the phone trying to get donated items, printing booklets and sending them out bulk mail, picking up all the items, and even delivering some after the Nutcracker Luncheon. It raised very little money for so much work. After that, the Guild has always budgeted enough to get started.”
A HISTORY OF SUPPORT
Vicki says volunteering is a family trait. “We had a fairly large family and my mother always found time to volunteer and my dad was president of Rotary and volunteered for his church for 60 years.”
She and Bruce feel fortunate to be in a position to give back. The couple have been Bolender Society members since 2015 in addition to Ballet Ball supporters.
“To me there’s no more beautiful art form than ballet. I’m a huge admirer of how easy they make it look. Some of my favorites over the years have been: Flights of Fantasy, An American in Paris with Louise Nadeau and Brian Staihr, Paris Wilcox and Aisling Hill-Connor in Afternoon of a Faun, Kim Cowen, Rachel Coats, Molly Wagner and so many others I would love to see again but you can’t. We have been blessed with some really outstanding men and women dancing with us.”
Vicki also agrees she’s learned so much over the years by attending Bolender Society events and getting involved with the Guild.
“It’s important to meet the dancers. I remember I was in the doorway at the Bolender Center when Amanda DeVenuta walked in and I talked to her. I decided to watch her from then on and I can’t wait to see The Wizard of Oz again.”
Vicki realizes what they and everyone behind the scenes put into a performance and it’s not something she will ever take for granted. “When that all comes together, I’m transported. I’ve had tears in my eyes many times watching different dancers and performances. It’s wonderful to see it all!”
INTERESTED IN GETTING INVOLVED?
If you are interested in joining Kansas City Ballet’s Guild, please visit the website to learn more.
To make a gift that is meaningful to you and makes a lasting impact for Kansas City Ballet, please contact Director of Gift Planning Rebecca Zandarski at 816.216.5597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top photo by Larry F. Levenson.
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