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KC Ballet Dancer Chat with Kansas City Ballet dancers Sidney Haefs, Marisa DeEtte Whiteman and Paul Zusi. Moderated by DeeAnna Hiett, Co-Artistic Director of the Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company and Chair of Dance at UMKC.
KC Ballet Dancer Chat, a FREE community engagement and education series, is designed to provide the broader public an opportunity to engage with and learn more about professional dancers from Kansas City Ballet. This Dancer Chat will feature three KCB company dancers chatting about their roles in KCB’s production of Bliss Point and sharing interesting aspects of their life journey and dance experiences. This relaxed, informal conversation will be moderated by a Kansas City community professional.
Meet the Moderator
DeeAnna Hiett, a Texas native, relocated to New York City after receiving a full merit scholarship to The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. In 1986, Ms. Hiett joined the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble. She was a charter member of the Jamison Project under the direction of Judith Jamison, later becoming a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has performed with Ballet Hysell, the Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Theater, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Quixotic, as well as special guest artist at many venues including the Kansas City Ballet. She performed at The Career Transitions for Dancers 22nd Anniversary Jubilee in New York City and is a recipient of The Generative Performing Artists Award from the Kansas City Charlotte Street Foundation. Her work “Without a Word” was performed at The John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center at the American College Dance Association’s National Festival. She is the co-artistic director of the Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company and is currently Professor and chair of dance at The University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory.
Meet the Dancers
Joined KCB in 2019
Sidney Haefs was born in Los Angeles, CA. She began her training at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy under the direction of Corinne Glover. Participating in Royal Academy of Dance Exams, she holds her Advanced 2 certificate with distinction. Ms. Haefs continued her education at the University of Utah where she graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Ballet and a Minor in Human Development and Family Studies. From there, she was offered a traineeship with Kansas City Ballet where she spent a year before joining the company as an apprentice in 2019. During her time with the company, she has had the opportunity to perform many roles including Snow Queen in Devon Carney’s The Nutcracker, Big Swans in Devon Carney’s Swan Lake, as well as the Emerald Ballerina in Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz. She has also performed roles in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Adam Hougland’s Carmina Burana, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Edward Liang’s Wunderland.
Marisa DeEtte Whiteman
Joined KCB in 2018
Originally from St. James, NY, Marisa DeEtte Whiteman began classical training at Seiskaya Ballet. At age 14, she was invited by Peter Stark to join the pre-professional program at Next Generation Ballet, during which she danced in La Traviata with Opera Tampa, and in the Youth America Grand Prix Gala at Lincoln Center. She later continued as a pre-professional student at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where she performed in Snow and Flowers in The Nutcracker, and the Putti Couple in Cinderella. Subsequently, she trained for a year privately and was awarded Top 12 in the Senior Classical Division at YAGP. Since 2014, Ms. Whiteman has moved through the ranks at Kansas City Ballet as Trainee, KCB II, Apprentice, and into the Main Company.
Ms. Whiteman has spent recent summers performing at the Hermitage Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jacob’s Pillow where she was featured in a work by Yury Yanowsky at the Gala Performance, as a Stepsister in a benefit performance of Cinderella with Misty Copeland, and featured as Zelda Fitzgerald with Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance. Since joining Kansas City Ballet, some of her favorite roles have included the Bomb Squad in Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Kick Girl in William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Pas de Trois and Cygnet in Devon Carney’s Swan Lake, The Wizard of Oz by Septime Webre, Rite of Spring by Adam Hougland, Umbra by Myles Thatcher, and George Balanchine’s Diamonds, The Four Temperaments and Theme and Variations, as well as many others.
She is currently pursuing a B.S. in Marketing, and also teaches ballet classes, Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT), and coaches students for YAGP at the Kansas City Ballet School. Ms. Whiteman is thrilled to begin her ninth season with Kansas City Ballet.
Joined KCB in 2021
Paul Zusi began his training at Southold Dance Theater at the age 6, inspired by his mother’s lifelong love of dance. Mr. Zusi attended summer programs at The School of American Ballet in 2018 and Boston Ballet School in 2019. Following the summer of 2019, he joined Boston Ballet as a member of their second company, working closely with renowned choreographers and teachers such as Jorma Elo, Peter Stark, Kathleen Mitchell, Larissa Ponomarenko, and Mikko Nissinen. Mr. Zusi’s professional repertoire includes Jorma Elo’s Carmen, Jerome Robbins’s Glass Pieces, Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker, and other classics including Giselle, Swan Lake, Serenade, The Little Humpbacked Horse, and Don Quixote. Mr. Zusi would like to thank his family and friends for their continued love and support.