November 16, 2022

KCB Dancer Chat: The Nutcracker

Facebook Live at

A Nutcracker-Themed KCB Dancer Chat
November 16 at 6:30 p.m.

With KCB dancers Naomi Tamioka, Amanda DeVenuta, and Gavin Abercrombie. Moderated by Angela and John Walker.

Please join us for our Free Facebook Live KCB Dancer Chats; a new community engagement and education series designed to engage the broader public with professional dancers at Kansas City Ballet. Each Dancer Chat provides an opportunity for the public to get to know different company dancers through relaxed, informal conversations sharing their unique perspectives on various topics of the day. Moderated by prominent members of the community and arts lovers these engaging Chats will reveal backgrounds, extraordinary experiences, and strong relationships between professional artists.

Meet the Moderators

Angela & John Walker

For Angela and John Walker, supporting and enjoying Kansas City Ballet is their passion and privilege! They are relatively new to Kansas City, having moved here from the Washington, D.C. area back in 2015, but Angela has Kansas City roots. Her father was an Air Force fighter pilot at Richards-Gebauer Air Force Base in the 1960s and her mother was a professional ice skater in Germany. Her mother taught ice skating and ballet; Angela, her parents, and two brothers all danced with the Kansas City Civic Ballet. Angela joined the Air Force after high school and met John while they were both attending foreign language training. They served together for 22 years in various Air Force assignments around the world. After retiring from the Air Force, they both worked for another 20 years as civilian employees with the Department of Defense.

John had never seen a ballet until Angela took him to see Swan Lake during their first tour in Berlin, Germany. They have been going to ballets together ever since! They both love music as well, so having a vibrant arts scene was very important to them when deciding where to live when they retired. Angela’s parents lived in Overland Park for the last decade of their lives, and the Walkers scheduled their visits to coincide with KC Ballet performances. They watched the beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts being built and then found the perfect condo that is close to both the Bolender Center and the Kauffman Center. They are Ballet and Symphony subscribers and are happily involved as KC Ballet Guild and Bolender Society members. John served as President of the Guild during the 2019-2020 Season, Angela is a KC Ballet Board member and also a volunteer usher at the Kauffman Center. They are both members of Kansas City Ballet’s Community Engagement and Education Council and are currently serving as co-chairmen of the Kansas City Ballet Guild’s 2022 Nutcracker Ball.

Meet the Dancers

Naomi Tanioka

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 including the aspirant program. In 2014, Ms. Tanioka joined Ballet Arizona, where she had the opportunity to perform cygnets in Swan Lake, Pas de Six in Napoli, Walpurgisnacht, Western Symphony, Symphony in Three Movements, and The Sleeping Beauty. She then joined Cincinnati Ballet in 2016, and the next two seasons. Ms. Tanioka had the opportunity to dance roles in Coppelia, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, Serenade, Rubies, Carmina Burana, Rite of Spring, Fire Bird, King Arthur’s Camelot, and Peter Pan. Since joining Kansas City Ballet in 2019, she has performed works by Adam Hougland, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Devon Carney, Edwaard Liang, George Balanchine, Helen Pickett, Micheal Pink, and has been featured as Lucy in Dracula, 1st Pas de deux in Wunderland, Pas de trois and Cygnet in Swan Lake and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker.

Amanda DeVenuta

Joined KCB in 2014

Amanda DeVenuta is from New York. At the age of 13, she trained with Fabrice Herrault of Paris Opera Ballet in New York City for two years. She then made the move to Boston Ballet’s pre-professional program under the direction of Margaret Tracey for three years until she became a trainee in 2012. She performed in the company’s season as Snow & Flower Corps in Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Mazurka in Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty, 4th movement corps in Symphony In C, the Cello in Jerome Robbins Fanfare, and Swanhilda’s friends in Balanchine’s Coppelia. She then was sent on exchange for the summer to National Ballet of Canada, and the following summer to represent Boston Ballet at the Banff Performing Arts Center. She went to other summer programs including the American Academy of Ballet, Fabrice Herrault at Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theatre, and Boston Ballet. Ms. DeVenuta spent a year as an apprentice with Minnesota Dance Theatre where she performed the role of snow queen in Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy along with other new works during the season. With Kansas City Ballet, she has performed roles in Rite of Spring, Diving Into The Lilacs, The Three Musketeers, Alice (in wonderland), Giselle, Wunderland, The Four Temperaments, Interplay, Theme and Variations, Diamonds, The Uneven, Play, and Romeo & Juliet. She has been featured as Odette/Odile in Devon Carney’s Swan Lake, Tinkerbell in Devon Carney’s Peter Pan, Sugar Plum Fairy in Devon Carney’s The Nutcracker, Olympe in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Bomb Squad Ballerina in Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room, Mrs. Summers in Val Caniparoli’s The Lottery, Song Fairy, Pas de Trois and the White Cat in Devon Carney’s The Sleeping Beauty and Dorothy in the KC Ballet world premiere of Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz. In 2017, Ms. DeVenuta was named one of Dance Magazine’s Top 25 Dancers to Watch.

Gavin Abercrombie

Joined KCB in 2018

Gavin Abercrombie was born in Acton, California, and began his ballet training at the age of 8 with the Antelope Valley Ballet. He continued his training at The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School and the San Francisco Ballet School where and was taught by individuals such as Marjorie Grundvig, Andre Reyes, Patrick Armand, and Parrish Maynard. After joining the Kansas City Ballet in 2018, Mr. Abercrombie has had the opportunity to perform leading roles such as Jonathan Harker in Michael Pink’s Dracula, Cavalier in Devon Carney’s Nutcracker, and leading character in Adam Hougland’s Carmina Burana. Mr. Abercrombie has also had the opportunity to perform in many ballets such as; Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room, Devon Carney’s Swan Lake, Helen Pickett’s Petal, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Tulips and Lobster, Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz, George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations and Diamonds, and Devon Carney’s Romeo & Juliet.

The Nutcracker

December 7-24, 2022
Muriel Kauffman Theatre at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Make The Nutcracker part of your holiday tradition! Single tickets are on sale now.