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Kansas City Ballet returns to stage, makes Starlight Theatre debut

2 KCMO institutions make historic collaboration
Kansas City Ballet
Posted at 7:36 AM, May 21, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Ballet will perform in front of a live audience this weekend for the first time in more than a year.

Inside the rehearsal studio at the Bolender Center, anticipation is building.

"The feeling around the company right now is one of electric excitement," said KCB artistic director Devon Carney.

That excitement has been building for 15 months - since the Ballet's last performance in front of an audience in February 2020, when the company performed Swan Lake.

"It’s what we do, it’s what we love," Carney said.

Rehearsal in the studio looks and feels different as the dancers wear masks, a company policy for the remainder of the 2020-2021 season.

"Imagine trying to do what these guys do with something over your face," Carney said.

"I feel like all of us, in the beginning, were like, this is impossible. You know, we needed breaks in between combinations and class to kind of get our breath back," said KCB dancer Whitney Huell.

They’re getting their timing back too, in more ways than one.

"The physicality of what we do has been impossible to replicate because we’re spending so much time just conditioning. We haven’t actually had six hours of rehearsal a day which is a normal dancers’ workday," Carney explained.

The Ballet’s comeback begins at Starlight Theater, as two Kansas City institutions come together for the first time.

"Getting to come back and be outside where it's safe and having an audience there to dance for is just so, so great and I can't wait," Huell said.

They’ve made it back to the stage and say it’s a sign of renewal.

"The arts find a way. They always find a way, no matter what the obstacles to create beautiful art for our people," Carney said. "We love our city, and we love our arts. So that's our resiliency."

The Ballet will have three total performances: Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The 2 p.m. performance will be free for frontline workers, the company’s way of saying thank you for their work during the pandemic.