World Premieres Highlight 2017 KC Dance Festival

The annual event features award-winning international choreographers, dancers from across the U.S. and KC-based talents.

Stand by for a week of exuberant creativity and vibrant performances when the Kansas City Dance Festival returns June 16 – 24.

Known for its intriguing blend of modern ballet elegance and cutting-edge contemporary dance, the annual event is a multi-layered collaboration among award-winning international choreographers, dancers from across the U.S., and KC-based talents.

The 2017 festival will feature three nights of performance, an open studio forum with South African choreographer Andrea Schermoly, and three days of master classes at venues including Quixotic Studios and the Folly Theater.

“There will be memorable works never experienced (by audiences) or danced before,” says Kansas City Ballet II company manager Anthony Krutzkamp, who co-founded the festival with retired KCB dancer Logan Pachiarz in 2013.

This year’s schedule includes a world premiere by Schermoly and a performance of “Extremely Close” (2007), by Alejandro Cerrudo, Spanish-born resident choreographer of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Set to the music of Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran, the composition features dancers skimming across a floor filled with drifting feathers, as upright rectangular panels of plywood slide back and forth across the stage.

The festival is also an important showcase for Kansas City talent. Veteran Kansas City Ballet dancer Ryan Jolicouer-Nye will spearhead the festival with a world premiere at Quixotic Studios’ Black Box theater downtown. It will be a two-night presentation, with the second performance reversing and altering the dance chronology of the first. It was designed, Jolicouer-Nye  says, “to surprise the audience with the new frontiers which dance can bring.” The event marks his third year with the Kansas City Dance Festival, where he has been featured as both dancer and choreographer.

Jennifer Owen, artistic co-director of KC-based Owen/Cox Dance, will be contributing her fourth annual choreographic work to the festival.

“There will be memorable works never experienced (by audiences) or danced before.”
— Anthony Krutzkamp, Kansas City Ballet II company manager and festival co-founder

Co-director Krutzkamp is also participating as a choreographer. His “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” will be a whimsical, delightful narrative, which dancers will get to co-create. The piece will involve six dancers, one major pas de deux, one pas de trois, and a men’s section incorporated into the finale.

Krutzkamp’s inspiration for his premiere was his eight-month-old baby daughter, Abrielle.

“Every night before baby Abrielle goes to sleep, we do a little dance to the Otis Redding station on Amazon Echo’s ‘Alexa.’ I want the premiere to reflect a happy adventure. Every dancer has their own voice — a creative program they can fine-tune, record and express to the audience.”

Performance is just part of the festival. Every year it includes a free open forum with a prestigious guest choreographer, who gives a short studio demonstration of his or her festival premiere and holds a question-and-answer session.

This year’s guest choreographer is Schermoly, whom Krutzkamp met when she choreographed New Moves for the Kansas City Ballet. Trained at the London Ballet School, Schermoly danced with the Boston Ballet and the world-renowned Nederlands Dans Theater before turning to choreography full time, a shift that brought her prestigious awards, grants and multiple world commissions for ballet and modern dance. Schermoly hails from South Africa on her mother’s side, but her father is a KC native.

As part of the forum, Schermoly will give a talk about her choreographic influences and her creative process. “I am inspired,” she said, “by the driving forces of humanity, the importance of psychologically questioning ourselves and our purpose. I am always on a quest to explore our inner being.”

Master classes with visiting dancers are another key element of the festival. Krutzkamp arranges them around Kansas City Ballet summer intensives, which students from all over the U.S. audition for.

Krutzkamp also puts festival dancers in contact with other local ballet schools such as City-in-Motion and Ballet North. The dancers gain supplemental income during the summer “lay-off season,” and “students get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn and incorporate new techniques from the (festival) dancers,” Krutzkamp said. “Everyone wins.”

The Kansas City Festival was the vision of Krutzkamp and Pachiarz, but the two feel a great debt to its founding supporter, Michael D. Frost, vice president of Kansas City Ballet’s board of directors.

“(Logan and I) were just two guys who showed up at the door, hat in hand,” Krutzkamp related in a recent interview. “Then Dr. Frost came and really helped us out and underwrote the entire show!  We wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been there for us our first year. He called everyone he knew, and he made it happen.”

Now in its fourth year, the festival and the dancers are entirely supported by festival sponsors and ticket sales. Clearly, Kansas City dance fans like what they see.

The Kansas City Dance Festival includes a June 16 – 17 Black Box performance series at Quixotic Studios; master classes, June 19 – 21, held at various local ballet schools; and an open studio forum with South African choreographer Andrea Schermoly June 21 at Quixotic Studios. The Festival will conclude June 24 at the Folly Theater with performances of Schermoly’s world premiere, Krutzkamp’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” and the choreographic works of Jennifer Owen and Alejandro Cerrudo.

To view the complete schedule and to purchase tickets visit kcdancefestival.com/performances

About The Author: Serena S.Y. Hsu

Serena S.Y. Hsu

Serena S.Y. Hsu, a Kansas City photojournalist with a background in 3D animation and ballet, specializes in performance photography. Hsu has contributed to KC Studio and KCPT’s Flatland; she also works as a wire photojournalist for ZUMA Press.

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