The 2022-2023 season marks Devon Carney’s 10th Anniversary as Artistic Director of Kansas City Ballet.
Devon Carney, Artistic Director of Kansas City Ballet, was born in New Orleans, where he began his dance training with Harvey Hysell. He later joined the New Orleans Ballet, where he danced his first leading roles. In 1978, Mr. Carney was invited to join Boston Ballet. While a corps de ballet member, Mr. Carney was chosen by Choo San Goh to dance the title role of Romeo in Goh’s first and only full-length ballet, Romeo and Juliet. Mr. Carney was promoted to principal in 1986.
During his 21-year professional dance career, Mr. Carney was able to perform many leading roles in well-known classical ballets such as Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, and Raymonda Act III. Mr. Carney had the opportunity also to perform leading roles in 20th-century classical works such as John Cranko’s Eugene Onegin and Taming of the Shrew, Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Bruce Wells’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Harald Lander’s Etudes, and Anthony Tudor’s Lilac Garden. He also was able to dance roles choreographed by cutting-edge choreographers. These roles include Maurice Bejart’s Le Sacre du Printemps, Paul Taylor’s Company B, Merce Cunningham’s Breakers, Sir Frederick Ashton’s Monotones 1, Mark Morris’ Mort Subite, and Susan Marshall’s Overture. His George Balanchine repertoire includes principal roles in Square Dance, Agon, Mozartiana, Rubies, The Four Temperaments, and Theme and Variations among others.
Mr. Carney has toured extensively throughout Europe, the United States, Mexico, and Asia with such greats as Rudolph Nureyev, Fernando Bujones, and Cynthia Gregory. In 1994, Mr. Carney was the non-competing partner of the Senior Division Bronze Medalist at the Jackson International Ballet Competition.
Mr. Carney served as Ballet Master for Boston Ballet from 1998 to 2003. During this time he worked closely with choreographers Ben Stevenson, Christopher Wheeldon, Michael Corder, Michael Pink, and Bruce Wells. Furthermore, he has worked closely with Anna-Marie Holmes in the staging of several major productions of the great classics.
Mr. Carney was appointed Artistic Director of the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program in 1994 and served in this capacity for nine years. Teaching credits include Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Arizona Ballet Summer Program, Ballet Austin, Boston Ballet, BalletMet, Cincinnati Ballet, Guangzhou Ballet of China, Hartford Ballet, Houston Ballet Summer Program, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, University of North Carolina School for the Arts, Texas Christian University, Boston Conservatory, Butler University, University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music Dance Department and various regional ballet companies and schools across the United States and Europe. He also has served as a judge on the juries of the 2002 Youth America Grand Prix Ballet Competition finals in New York City and the 2005 and 2006 American Ballet Competition, as well as the semi-finals of YAGP in 2018.
In addition, his choreographic endeavors include the ballets Opus II and Interlude for Boston Ballet, Cascades, and Daystar for Boston Ballet II. Through the years, he choreographed Symphony #1, Awakenings, and Wonderful Land for the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program, as well as staged several classical ballet excerpts. He choreographed a work for BalletMet in August of 2007 titled Speaking In Tongues. He also worked very closely with the Cincinnati Opera from 2005-2012 choreographing works in Aida, Un Ballo in Maschera, Lucie de Lammermoor, Die Meistersinger, La Traviata, and many others. In addition, Mr. Carney has choreographed several ballets for Cincinnati Ballet including U Too?, Just You and Me, Another Time Another Space, Blue Rondo, and in September of 2007 Convergent Sight. Also, in February of 2006, Mr. Carney choreographed Acts 2 and 4 of the full-length Swan Lake for Cincinnati Ballet. Then, in November of 2006, he choreographed his full-length version of Giselle for Cincinnati Ballet to rave reviews. Also, he presented his full-length world premiere of Dracula in October of 2008 and then subsequently choreographed his world premiere of World Citizen in March of 2009 with a review stating, “Carney’s work is not only well crafted but moody and intense with a palpable sense of loneliness. His work grows more confident and more skillful with every piece he creates” (David Lyman, Cincinnati Enquirer).
Mr. Carney was with the Cincinnati Ballet from 2003 to 2013, serving as the Associate Artistic Director. He worked closely with choreographers such as Donald Byrd, Lynn Taylor Corbett, Jorma Elo, Victor Kabanieav, Trey McIntyre, Donald McKayle, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Kirk Peterson, Viktor Plotnikov, and many others during this time.
He recently created a new version of the full-length version of the world-renowned Sleeping Beauty to great critical acclaim. In addition, he choreographed in the spring of 2011 a world premiere, Thrive On Here, set to the live music of the nationally known hit group Over the Rhine. In the summer of 2011, Mr. Carney again had the opportunity to choreograph for the Cincinnati Opera for the recently written opera A Flowering Tree by John Adams. In the Spring of 2012, he choreographed a world premiere version of the Hans Christian Anderson story of The Steadfast Tin Soldier. In the spring of 2013, he had the opportunity to choreograph two works back to back for Cincinnati Ballet. The first was Concerto #4 in March of 2013. The second, which closed the 2012–2013 season, was Boot It Up! This was performed with the live musical accompaniment of rock-and-roll legend Peter Frampton and his entire band and was hailed as a tremendous high point in the Cincinnati performing arts scene for the season.
Devon Carney was appointed Artistic Director of Kansas City Ballet starting with the 2013–2014 season. Upon arrival, he created his first work for the company, titled Opus I. Additionally, in 2014, he choreographed for Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s productions of Die Fledermaus and La Traviata. In 2015, Kansas City Ballet presented his critically-acclaimed version of Giselle. Also in 2015, Kansas City Ballet debuted his newly-choreographed rendition of the timeless classic, The Nutcracker, with stellar reviews including: “The rebuilt and re-imagined “Nutcracker” … is, among other things, a visually mesmerizing spectacle that will fill viewers’ heads with indelible images.” (Robert Trussell, The Kansas City Star). This success was immediately followed in 2016 with his staging of the world-renowned classical masterpiece, Swan Lake. One review stated: “In Kansas City Ballet’s first-ever presentation of “Swan Lake,” artistic director Devon Carney’s relentless enthusiasm and vision seems to have finally manifested—the performance Friday indicated a company capable of anything.” (Libby Hansen, The Kansas City Star). In 2017, audiences enjoyed for the first time his The Sleeping Beauty and his world premiere choreography of Romeo & Juliet. The 2017-2018 season closed with Mr. Carney’s world premiere choreography of Peter Pan. Additionally, his The Nutcracker has been performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2017 and 2022.