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KC Ballet Dancer Chat with Kansas City Ballet dancers Emily Mistretta, Whitney Huell, and Cameron Thomas. Guest moderator: Mary Wood, San Francisco Ballet Dance Educator
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 Giselle 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
A native of Washington State, Mary Wood received a BFA from the University of Utah and performed for nine years with Ballet West under the Directorship of Willam Christensen. After relocating to San Francisco in 1975, she taught children’s and adult ballet techniques and ballet history at San Francisco Ballet School, pioneered the Dance in Schools program, and was the principal lecturer for community outreach efforts during the 1980s. She has moderated the Pointes of View programs since 1986 and the Meet the Artist Interviews since 1995, and frequently participates as a guest lecturer in varied audience engagement programs.
She lives in San Francisco with her husband Lance Wood and a lively Standard Schnauzer. Her son, Christopher Ruud, who received early training at San Francisco Ballet School, recently ended a 21-year career as a principal dancer with Ballet West and is currently Second Company Manager and Rehearsal Director with the Kansas City Ballet. In March of 2016, Mary retired from 22 years as a full-time lay associate in the Ofﬁce of the Congregation at Grace Cathedral.
Meet the Dancers
Joined KCB in 2017
Cameron Thomas began his dance training in his hometown of Rochester, NY. In 2013, he began performing regularly with the Rochester City Ballet. In 2015, Mr. Thomas received a full scholarship to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. He then joined Kansas City Ballet II for the 2016-2017 season and was promoted to the company the following season. Now in his sixth season with Kansas City Ballet, Mr. Thomas has performed featured roles in William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, and Devon Carney’s The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.
In addition to being a dancer, Mr. Thomas is a pianist and has accompanied for the Kansas City Ballet School, Oklahoma City Ballet School, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, and the Worldwide Ballet Zoom classes.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Thomas co-founded Creative Intersections, an outdoor performance project, with James Kirby Rogers to bring live dance back in a time when theaters were shut down. As a choreographer, Mr. Thomas has created work for Creative Intersections and for the Kansas City Ballet.
Joined KCB in 2016
Company Member Emily Mistretta began her training at Inland Pacific Ballet Academy in native Montclair, California. In 2005, Ms. Mistretta joined Boston Ballet School on scholarship and in 2006, She joined Boston Ballet II. She was promoted to Corps de Ballet in 2008. After a 10-year career with Boston Ballet, Ms. Mistretta joined Kansas City Ballet in 2016. Throughout her career with both Boston Ballet and Kansas City Ballet, she has danced leading roles in works by Jiří Kylián, George Balanchine, Alexander Ekman, Ohad Naharin, Jorma Elo, Jerome Robbins, Yuri Yanowsky, William Forsythe, and debuted as Marguerite in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias. Some of the classical and contemporary ballets in which Ms. Mistretta has been featured include Bella Figura, In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Wings of Wax, Tar and Feathers, Symphony of Psalms, Petit Mort, La Bayadère, The Sleeping Beauty, The Concert, Jewels, Symphony in C, Coppélia, Serenade, Episodes, Divertimento No. 15, Symphony in Three Movements, Giselle, Les Sylphides, Antique Epigraphs, The Lottery, Cacti, Petal, In the Upper Room and The Lady of the Camellias.
Joined KCB in 2014
Company Member Whitney Huell trained at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities under the tutelage of Stanislav Issaev and Robert Barnett. She then attended Indiana University earning a B.S. in Ballet and Psychology before joining Ballet West. With Ballet West, Ms. Huell performed featured roles in Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Petite Mort, and Jewels. In January 2011 she was one of Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch and was also featured in the September 2012 issue of Pointe Magazine. With Kansas City Ballet, Ms. Huell has performed works by Amy Seiwert, Adam Hougland, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Monique Meunier, Stanton Welch, Edwaard Liang, Val Caniparoli, Helen Pickett, and Jerome Robbins and has been featured as The Lead Woman in James Kudelka’s The Man in Black, Caterpillar in Alice (in wonderland), 3rd Theme in The Four Temperaments, Jeté Woman in Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated and Dark Angel in Serenade. In 2018 she was featured as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Devon Carney’s production of The Nutcracker becoming the first African American in KCB history to perform the role.