OffStage is a compilation of all the performing arts news for the Kansas City region, including Topeka, Lawrence, and Columbia. For our calendar of show and audition listings, magazine archives, and a whole lot more visit www.kcstage.com
Congratulations to students at Hogan Preparatory Academy Middle School who participated in this year’s Starlight on Site program. The students began rehearsing after school in the spring with Starlight Theatre teaching artists that included a director and musical director/choreographer.
Kansas City Ballet ended its 55th season with a celebration of American dance, music and hometown talent in “Hey-Hay, Going to Kansas City.” This vibrant company offered an exhilarating trio of pieces on Friday night, including the world premiere of Karole Armitage’s “Energy Made Visible.”
To be a serious ballet company these days you can’t just do an endless series of Swan Lakes: You’ve got to push things forward. The Kansas City Ballet in its current form has rarely flinched from risky artistic choices, works that might have left us scratching our heads at times. At the season finale that opened May 3rd at the Kauffman Center, the company presented the world premiere of a 25-minute ballet of such startling ingenuity and mind-blowing visuals that it exceeds the boundaries even of what this innovative company has achieved through its 56-year history.
The Kansas City Ballet is wrapping up another season at the Kauffman, and in grand style. These last couple of years at the new venue have been ones of experiment, and the season closers have been time for the troupe to step out of the ordinary, to present new and interesting ideas. For the programs on display Friday night, they have gone with three fascinating and nicely executed pieces.
What is your opera about and what is your ritual? My opera is about morning coffee...and what happens when the ritual of morning coffee gets taken way too far. Is this your first opera? Do you have experience writing for opera singers?
A standing ovation is the form of applause where members of a seated audience stand up while applauding after an extraordinary performance of acclaim. The collaborative voices and musicians at Quality Hill Playhouse for the current show, You’ve Got a Friend: Music That Raised the Baby Boomers, deserved every round of applause and the standing ovations.
Character. That’s the word I was looking for. We were in groups, six of them scattered around the top floor of the ArtsTech building on Holmes Street. The brainstorming was in full swing, and the facilitator asked us to name the things about our town that made it unique. We were a pretty mixed bag: visual artists, musicians, actors, educators, and others, and once the suggestions started flowing they came in all directions: the city’s history as an incubator of artists, the Crossroads district, the unique musical heritage, and new artist communities popping up all over the metro area. All good things, fine things. But I couldn’t help but feel these were all subsets of something larger, something untouched-on. It wasn’t until afterwards that what I had been searching for hit me.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an American artist in any field as interesting as Karole Armitage. She grew up partly in Lawrence, learned classical ballet initially and absorbed the work of George Balanchine in Geneva before becoming a dancer with the legendary Merce Cunningham. Shortly after forming her own company in New York she began creating choreography for many of the world’s top companies. Known for works that blend dance, music and art, she has garnered a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway and has choreographed videos for Michael Jackson, Madonna (“Vogue”) and Merchant-Ivory films. Even the name of her company is interesting: Armitage Gone! Dance.
Saxophonist Ben Webster was born in Kansas City in 1909. He performed here with Bennie Moten’s and Andy Kirk’s orchestras and recorded with both. But he first gained international recognition after moving East, as lead tenor in what was arguably Duke Ellington’s greatest orchestra in the early 1940s.
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