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KC Ballet Dancer Chat with Kansas City Ballet dancers Naomi Tanioka, Elliott Rogers, Sidney Haefs, and Andrew Vecseri. Moderated by Cynthia Newsome, Community Relationships Director for KSHB 41, NBC in Kansas City, Missouri.
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 Peter Pan 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
Cynthia Newsome is the Community Relationships Director for KSHB 41, NBC in Kansas City, Missouri. After 25 years on the air at KSHB 41, Cynthia stepped down from the anchor desk and into her new role as Community Relationships Director.
Cynthia came to KSHB 41 in January of 1997. Prior to that, she was in Oklahoma City for 13 years serving as Weekend Anchor at KWTV Channel 9, and a reporter at KFOR-TV and WKY Radio.
Cynthia is an award-winning journalist. In 2012 she was inducted into the Silver Circle of the Mid-America National Association of Television Arts and Sciences for Excellence in Broadcasting and Community Service. In 2008 her Radon Awareness and Lung Cancer reports captured First Place in the American Cancer Society High Plains Division’s media awards for Community Awareness. The Kansas Association of Broadcasters awarded Cynthia Third Place for In-Depth Reporting for her 2007 investigation exposing mold at Central High School.
Notable highlights in her 30-plus year career in broadcasting include covering the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. Cynthia’s reports on the lives of bombing victims are shown at the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum in Oklahoma City.
Cynthia came to Kansas City and met and married the love of her life, Ed Newsome. Ed is Founder and CEO of his real estate appraisal business, Good News Appraisals; and is the former President of the Kansas City Public School District. He actually popped the question to Cynthia on live TV on NBC Action News on June 13, 2001. They were married that same year. She has two step-children, Edward II and Kimberly.
Community involvement is high on Cynthia’s list of priorities. In 1997 she founded an organization called Awesome Ambitions. It’s a college and career readiness program for 8th through 12th grade girls in the Kansas City Public School District. Volunteer business professional women serve as mentors and coaches, inspiring, educating, challenging and encouraging girls to set and achieve positive goals for their health, education and future careers.
In June 2011, Cynthia was diagnosed with breast cancer. A year later she completed her treatments and was cancer free.
Seven years later, in February 2019, the breast cancer returned. Cynthia was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer. Cynthia is in treatment receiving chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments to once-again rid her body of the cancer. She is sharing her story on the air to help inspire and encourage other people battling serious diseases to have faith and continue fighting.
Cynthia and her family are faithful members of United Believers Community Church, a Baptist congregation in south Kansas City. Cynthia said her favorite things about Kansas City are the great music, great food, and, most of all, the great people!
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 2023
Elliott Rogers is a native Chicagoan and began dancing at the age of 2. He trained with Ruth Page where he received many opportunities such as participating in an exchange program with the Cuban National Ballet School and a partner Spanish school. At 14, he moved to Houston and began training with the Houston Ballet Academy’s Professional Division for 4 years. After his time in the Professional Division, he joined Houston Ballet II for 2 years. He widely expanded his repertoire and in 2023 he was selected to represent HBII in “Assemblé International”, a program where 37 schools from all over the world come together to perform hosted by the National Ballet School of Canada. Completing his training with the HBA, he joins the Kansas City Ballet as an apprentice as his first step as a professional dancer.
Joined KCB in 2019, +1 Year – Second Company
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, Peasant Pas de deux in Devon Carney’s Giselle, 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, Edward Liang’s Wunderland, Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet, and Alexander Ekman’s Cacti.
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.