May 4, 2022

KCB Dancer Chat: The Wizard of Oz

Facebook Live at

May 4, 2022
6:30 p.m.

KCB Dancer Chat moderated by Brad Austin, Creative Arts Producer at KCPT–Kansas City PBS with Kansas City Ballet dancers Lilliana Hagerman, Liang Fu, Cameron Thomas and Ben Zusi.  

Join us for a free Facebook LIVE Dancer Chat. This KCB Community Engagement and Education program is designed to engage the broader public with the professional dancers of Kansas City Ballet. Moderated by various members of the community, these chats provide a window into professional dancers’ lives, current creative work, and experiences.

All Dancer Chats take place on Facebook LIVE.

Meet the Moderator

Brad Austin

Creative Arts Producer at KCPT–Kansas City PBS

Kansas City-based photographer & filmmaker, Brad Austin, has been honing his skills in the visual arts since the age of 8. His love for the medium began at home in his step-father’s darkroom helping develop photographs. After high school, he attended the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, California. There, he focused on filmmaking and learning to craft stories for documentary films.

Brad returned to Kansas City in 2004 where he began a commercial photography business focusing on creating images for art, fashion, portrait, and magazine editorials. Brad’s photography work has appeared in magazines both nationally and internationally, including fashion editorials in England, Italy, Australia, and his artwork has been featured in several art galleries across the United States.

As an artist, Brad continues to use light and technology to craft stories, films, and images. To date, His documentaries have picked up thirteen regional Emmy nominations and five wins. Currently, Brad is the Creative Arts Producer for Kansas City’s PBS.

Meet the Dancers

Lilliana Hagerman

Joined KCB in 2014

Lilliana Hagerman was born in Pordenone, Italy, and began her dance training at the age of six in Hillsborough, IL after her family moved back to the United States. From twelve years of age, Mrs. Hagerman began attending the Orlando Ballet summer intensives, where she was honored to obtain training from notorious ballet stars such as Fernando Bujones, Gelsey Kirkland, Olivier Munoz, and Julie Kent. In 2009, Mrs. Hagerman was very excited to join Orlando Ballet’s trainee program under the direction of Peter Stark, and in 2010 she accepted a position into the Orlando Ballet Second Company under the direction of Dierdre Miles Burger. Mrs. Hagerman competed at the 2012 YAGP semifinals in Tampa, FL and was awarded the silver medal for her senior contemporary solo and top 12 for her senior classical variation. Very soon afterwards, she was asked to join the Orlando Ballet main company under the direction of Robert Hill, where she would perform roles such as the Evil Queen in Chiaki Yasukawa’s Snow White, and Girl in Black in Telmo Moreira’s Barco Negro. In 2014, Mrs. Hagerman was delighted to join Kansas City Ballet. Since her time here, she has performed George Balanchine ballets such as Diamonds, The Four Temperaments and Theme and Variations. She has also performed roles such as Dorothy in Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Devon Carney’s The Nutcracker, pas de deux woman for Jerome Robbin’s Interplay, Mrs. Hutchinson in Val Caniparoli’s The Lottery, four little swans, pa de trois and Neapolitan in Devon Carney’s Swan Lake, Nichette in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias and featured roles in William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Helen Pickett’s Petal, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Tulips and Lobster and Matthew Neenan’s The Uneven amongst many others. In 2018 Mrs. Hagerman was honored to be one of the ten dancers nominated worldwide for Pointe Magazine’s “Stars of the Corps”. In May of 2019 she was chosen by Septime Webre and Artistic Director Devon Carney to represent Kansas City Ballet at the world renowned Prix Benois de la Danse in Moscow, Russia by performing the role of Dorothy in Septime Webre‘s The Wizard of Oz at the Bolshoi Theatre. She is thrilled to begin her eighth season with Kansas City Ballet.


Liang Fu

Joined KCB in 2014

Liang Fu was born in Qingdao, China. He trained at Beijing Dance Academy for 6 years before graduating in 2001. He then went on to dance with Singapore Dance Theatre, Universal Ballet Company and as a Senior Soloist with Cincinnati Ballet before joining Kansas City Ballet in 2014. Mr. Fu was invited to perform at the Gala of Benois de La Danse Competition at The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia in 2003. In 2005, he was awarded 1st Prize at the 10th Asian Pacific International Ballet Competition in Tokyo, Japan. His classical repertoire includes leading roles such as Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty, Albrecht in Giselle, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, James in La Sylphide, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, Escamillo in Carmen, Lucien in Paquita, Jean de Brienne in Raymonda, Snow King and Cavalier in The Nutcracker. As well as in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Theme and Variations and Diamonds. He has also been featured in contemporary works including Stamping Ground, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Forgotten Land and Petite Mort by Jiří Kylián, In the Upper Room by Twyla Tharp, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated by William Forsythe, Tabula Rasa by Ohad Naharin, Maninyas by Stanton Welch, The Man in Black by James Kudelka, Lambarena and Vivace by Val Caniparoli, Wunderland by Edwaard Liang and Petal by Helen Pickett.

Cameron Thomas

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.

Ben Zusi

Joined KCB II in 2021

Ben Zusi is 18 years old and is currently in his first year with KCB II. He has been dancing since he was 6 years old, training at Southold Dance Theater in South Bend, Indiana, where he was raised. Mr. Zusi also attended summer intensives at The School of American Ballet 2018, Houston Ballet 2019, and Boston Ballet 2020 and 2021. He competed in the Youth America Grand Prix in 2021 where he was invited to compete in the final round. Mr. Zusi is very excited to be a part of KCB II this year, and gives his thanks to his friends, family, and teachers for their care and support.

The Wizard of Oz

May 13-22, 2022
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The Wizard of Oz in Kansas City is filled with all the familiarity of the classic movie – Dorothy and Toto are swept to Oz and join three unlikely heroes on a quest to see the Wizard and must battle a Wicked Witch in order to return home. This award-winning production seamlessly combines bold imaginative elements like costumes, sets, projections, and special effects with incredibly original music making it the must-see family event of the season.