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KC Ballet Dancer Chat with Kansas City Ballet dancers Naomi Tanioka, Andrew Vecseri and Paul Zusi. Moderator Val Caniparoli, Choreographer of Jekyll & Hyde.
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 the professional dancers from Kansas City Ballet. This Dancer Chat features three KCB company dancers chatting about their roles in KCB’s production of Jekyll & Hyde and sharing interesting aspects of their life journey and dance experiences. This relaxed, informal conversation will be moderated by a relevant Kansas City community professional.
Meet the Moderator
Val Caniparoli’s versatility has made him one of the most sought-after American choreographers internationally. He is most closely associated with San Francisco Ballet, his artistic home for over 50 years. He first worked under the artistic directorship of Lew Christensen, and in the early 1980s, was appointed resident choreographer. He was appointed as a Ballet Master and Principal Character Dancer under Helgi Tomasson’s Artistic Directorship and continued to create such internationally performed works such as Lambarena, Ibsen’s House, Connotations, Aria, Double Stop, Hamlet & Ophelia and Pulcinella and is currently working with the company under the new Artistic Director leadership of Tamara Rojo. Caniparoli has contributed to the repertoires of more than 60 companies, including Joffrey Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Scottish Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Kansas City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ballet West (resident choreographer 1993-97), Washington Ballet, Israel Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Singapore Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, State Theatre Ballet of South Africa, Alberta Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet (resident choreographer 2001-06). He has also choreographed for the Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and The Metropolitan Opera and several occasions with the San Francisco Symphony. Choreography for the esteemed American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), include A Christmas Carol, A Doll’s House, A Little Night Music, Arcadia, and the creation, with Carey Perloff, of a new movement-theater piece, Tosca Cafe. One of his most popular ballets, Lambarena, was nominated for the Prix Benois de la Danse in 1997 for Best Choreography and was also featured on Sesame Street with dancers Lorena Feijoo and Lorna Feijoo. In 2015, Caniparoli co-choreographed, with Helgi Tomasson, a commercial for the 50th Anniversary Super Bowl with dancers from San Francisco Ballet. Caniparoli’s full evening-length ballets include Lady of the Camellias, five different productions of The Nutcracker for Royal New Zealand Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet (co-created with Ma Cong), Jekyll & Hyde for Finnish National Ballet and A Cinderella Story choreographed to music of Richard Rodgers for Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Born in Renton, Washington, Caniparoli opted for a professional dance career after studying music and theatre at Washington State University. He received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to attend San Francisco Ballet School. He performed with San Francisco Opera Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet in 1973, where he continues to perform as a Principal Character Dancer.
Meet the Dancers
Joined KCB in 2019
Naomi Tanioka, originally from Sapporo, Japan, started her training with Chida Toshiko Ballet Studio. Ms. Tanioka was accepted to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in Canada, where she concluded her 6 years of professional ballet training, and one year of the Aspirant Program. In 2014, Ms. Tanioka joined Ballet Arizona, where she performed many Balanchine and Bournonville ballets. She then joined Cincinnati Ballet in 2016, where she was pushed out of her box with a variety of repertoire performed there. Since joining Kansas City Ballet in 2019, she has been featured as Cinderella in Devon Carney’s Cinderella, Lucy in Michael Pink’s Dracula, Sugar Plum and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, and performed works by Adam Hougland, Alexander Ekman, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Edwaard Liang, George Balanchine, Helen Pickett, Jiří Kylián, Lila York, Mark Morris and Septime Webre.
Joined KCB in 2022
Andrew Vecseri was born and raised in Houston, Texas and began his training in 2010 at Houston Repertoire Ballet under the direction of Victoria Vittum before he joined the Houston Ballet Academy in 2013. In 2015 he was promoted to Houston Ballet’s second company in which he performed ballets such as Yondering, A Garden of Mirth, Flower Festival, and Prince Desire in Sleeping Beauty. In 2017 he was chosen to compete in the Prix De Lausanne, where he was offered a company contract with the Houston Ballet. While there, he was promoted to Demi Soloist and performed roles in La Bayadere, Swan Lake, Marie, Sleeping Beauty, and Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker before joining Kansas City Ballet in 2022.
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.