November 15, 2023

KCB Dancer Chat: The Nutcracker

Facebook Live at

KC Ballet Dancer Chat with Kansas City Ballet dancers Kelsey Ivana Hellebuyck, Whitney Huell and Chase Hanson. Moderated by Cyndi James, Kansas City Ballet Guild President.

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 The Nutcracker 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

Cyndi James

Cyndi James grew up in Washington, DC where she started taking classical ballet classes at the Washington School of Ballet at age 7. She continued pursuing ballet seriously throughout her school years and graduated from the Academy of the Washington Ballet.

After graduating, Cyndi attended The Boston Conservatory of Music, where she continued studying dance, but also found a love of acting and musical theatre. She moved to New York City and made a living doing TV commercials and children’s theatre.

Cyndi has lived a somewhat gypsy life and has lived and worked in Australia, France, Southern California, and Colorado.  She has taught ballet, fitness and nutrition related classes for many years as well as having worked in the corporate world. She moved to Kansas City with her late husband 25 years ago, has raised two wonderful sons and is now enjoying being a first- time grandparent.

Cyndi’s passion has always been ballet and she is so happy to be staying active with her true passion by being involved in supporting the Kansas City Ballet and as President of the Kansas City Ballet Guild.

Meet the Dancers

Kelsey Ivana Hellebuyck

Joined KCB in 2016

Kelsey Ivana Hellebuyck received her ballet training at the San Francisco Ballet School, where she spent 11 years (five on a full merit scholarship). At age 16, she joined Boston Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet, performing not only in Boston but also touring the world in Moscow, South Korea and all across Spain to name a few. With Boston Ballet, she performed numerous ballets by George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, Jorma Elo, and Jiří Kylián, among others. Some of her featured roles included Peasant Pas de Deux and Moyna in Giselle, also Arabian Pas in The Nutcracker,

She then joined Philadelphia Ballet (then Pennsylvania Ballet) for the 2012/2013 Season, she performed numerous works including Angel Corella’s Don Quixote (Mercedes), William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite and The Second Detail, Jiří Kylián’s Forgotten Land, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ (Coffee),  Alexei Ratmansky’s Jeu de Cartes, Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free as well as The Concert, and Liam Scarlett’s Asphodel Meadows.

In 2016 she joined KCB, some of her favorite roles being Dark Angel in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Yoomi in Helen Pickett’s Petal, Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, Brown Couple in Lila York’s Celts & Arabian & Snow Queen in Devon Carney’s The Nutcracker. 

Ms. Hellebuyck has appeared as a model in publications such as Improper Bostonian, The Boston Globe andPointe Magazine as well as in the Ballerina Project and other advertising campaigns. In 2010, The Boston Globenamed her one of the 25 Most Stylish Bostonians. In 2016, Ms. Hellebuyck was asked the honor of performing La mort du Cygne (The Dying Swan) for MANNA’s Shut up & Dance Benefit performance.

Follow Kelsey Ivana on Instagram (@IvanaDance) for a from the wings view into her life.

Whitney Huell

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’sTop 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, Septime Webre, Mark Morris, Jirí Kylián and Jerome Robbins and has been featured as The Lead Woman in James Kudelka’s The Man in Black, Jeté Woman in Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Dark Angel in Balanchine’s Serenade and Myrtha in Devon Carney’s Giselle. 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.

Chase Hanson

Joined KCB in 2023

Chase Hanson began his dance training at the age of 8 in Stamford, Connecticut, at the Connecticut Ballet Center and Greenwich Ballet Academy. In 2019, he received a full scholarship to attend the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis school, where he trained for 3 years. While at the JKO school, Mr. Hanson was chosen by Twyla Tharp to be part of the original creation of Twyla Now at New York City Center, and in his final year, he was selected to compete at the 2022 Prix de Lausanne in Montreux, Switzerland, where he was a semi-finalist.

Upon graduation, Mr. Hanson joined the San Francisco Ballet Trainee program under the direction of Patrick Armand. As a Trainee, he performed works by Val Caniparoli, Miles Thatcher, Davide Occipinti, and Dana Genshaft. He also performed with the corps de ballet in The Nutcracker, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella.

Mr. Hanson is looking forward to his first season with the Kansas City Ballet.

The Nutcracker

December 1-24
Kauffman Center

The classic, Victorian-era story by E.T.A. Hoffman featuring Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, Dr. Drosselmeier, and the Sugar Plum Fairy is a magical theatrical experience wrapped with exquisite costumes, grand sets, and captivating choreography. Let your wonder ignite and feel the glimmer once more as your childhood dreams return and inspire you to IMAGINE AGAIN.