New Dance Partners Celebrate Nine Years at Midwest Trust Center

Kansas City Ballet dancers Amaya Rodriguez, Liang Fu and Kevin Wilson in Amor Brujo. Choreography Irene Rodriguez. (photo by Mike Strong)

On Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17, the Midwest Trust Center will once again present four world premiere pieces featuring four local dance companies. The evening will include modern and contemporary dance from national and international choreographers under the artistic advisement of Michael Uthoff. Recently retired Executive Director of the Midwest Trust Center, Emily Behrmann, and Uthoff were instrumental in the creation and continuation of these commissioned works. Behrmann reflected, “In 2013 New Dance Partners was created to encourage new work in dance to further artistic growth in dance by creating new work and encouraging collaboration between Kansas City arts organizations. Since its inception we have commissioned over 30 new works, which is no small feat!”

In a matter of weeks each company hosts their respective choreographer, who stages a newly created work and consults with costume and lighting designers, before transitioning to the Yardley Hall stage for just a few days of technical rehearsals ahead of the world premiere. Each new work is then owned by the dance company for two years to use in their own programs. Read on to learn more about this year’s choreographers and their companies.

Kansas City Ballet, working with Stephanie Martinez

Chicago-based choreographer Stephanie Martinez has spent the last 11 years creating works for Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Sacramento Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Kansas City Ballet and National Choreographers initiative, among others. Beyond the world of contemporary ballet, she assisted Broadway legend Ann Reinking in the Fosse Trilogy in 2010. In each of her pieces, Martinez takes her audiences on a journey guided by the kinetic momentum of her work. She was awarded the 2015 Joffrey Ballet “Winning Works: Choreographers of Color” commission, the Chicago 3Arts Award and a National Endowment for the Arts grant for her premiere “Bliss!” at Joffrey Ballet.

Kansas City Ballet is a 30-member professional ballet company under the leadership of Artistic Director Devon Carney and Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley. The company’s mission is to establish Kansas City Ballet as an indispensable asset in its community through exceptional performances, excellence in dance training and quality community education programs for all ages. This year marks Kansas City Ballet’s seventh year with New Dance Partners.

Owen/Cox Dance Group, working with Bryan Arias

Bryan Arias was born in Puerto Rico. In his youth, he moved to New York City, where he would go on to study dance. As a dancer, he has performed with the Netherlands Dance Theater and Crystal Pite’s company Kidd Pivot. As a choreographer, Arias has created original works for The Paul Taylor Company, Zurich Ballet, The Bolshoi Ballet and Tanz Lucerne Theater, to name a few. He has received the Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award (2017), the Jacobs Pillow Fellowship Award (2019) and the German der Faust Award in choreography (2020). In 2020 Arias co-founded Company Snorkel Rabbit in Basel, Switzerland, serving as the resident company of Opera de Massy in France.

Owen/Cox Dance Group’s mission is to create new music and dance collaborations, to present high-quality contemporary dance performances with live music, and to engage as wide an audience as possible through affordable live performance, education and outreach programs. Founders Jennifer Owen and Brad Cox bring together some of Kansas City’s most talented artists representing a variety of genres to perform contemporary dance with live music. With diverse backgrounds ranging from the Bolshoi Ballet and the Leningrad Chamber Orchestra to Alvin Ailey and Dave Brubeck, these dancers and musicians form a highly skilled and multi-faceted corps. This will be Owen/Cox’s ninth year with New Dance Partners.

Störling Dance Theater performs Womb Wit and Wisdom. Choreography Carolyn Dorfman.

Störling Dance Theater, working with Victoria Marks

Victoria Marks is an Alpert Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim and Rauschenberg Fellow and Fulbright Distinguished Scholar, who has been creating dances for stage and film for four decades. Marks is a professor in the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and serves as Chair of UCLA’s Disability Studies minor. Her projects range from “choreo-portraits” for individuals and groups, to dances for and with dancers that fuel her inquiries into movement. Currently, she is involved with the Dancing Disability Lab at UCLA, a gathering of dance artists who challenge ability paradigms and recently, “Ten Questions: If not now, when?” bringing together members of UCLA’s community from the arts, humanities and sciences to address questions crucial to this contemporary moment.

Störling Dance Theater is the artistic vision of Mona Störling-Enna. She moved to Kansas City in 1995 to launch this company of highly and diversely skilled artists. With beauty and story as her skillset, Mona set out to enrich the community with stories and visions that would inspire others with specific concepts of relationships, community and hope. Störling Dance Theater’s first major work, The Prodigal Daughter, premiered at the Kansas City Lyric Opera in 2001 and was chosen as one of the top 15 productions for the year by the Kansas City Star. 2022 will be Störling’s sixth year with New Dance Partners.

Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, working with Charissa Barton

Multi-faceted choreographer, director, educator and producer Charissa Barton has collaborated with David Parsons, Julie Taymor, Alan Tudyk and Katy Perry, among others. Her stage choreography has been featured on the Pritzker Pavilion stage in Chicago and Ailey Theater in NYC. Her choreography for screen appears on HBOMax, Netflix and SyFy. Barton performed with Aszure & Artists, Benjamin Millepied & Co. and Parsons Dance Company on world-renowned stages including the Sydney Opera House, Kennedy Center and Jacob’s Pillow, to name a few. She has been featured in publications including Variety, New York Times, Washington Post, Vogue Magazine and Dance Magazine.

The Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company has been hailed as one of the most exciting, captivating dance troupes in the Midwest. Wylliams/Henry was spotlighted in Dance Magazine’s Critic’s Choice issue of “favorite picks across America” and in the National Endowment for the Arts 2008 Report. Works by internationally acclaimed choreographers, such as David Parsons, as well as classics by some of the 20th century’s greatest masters, like José Limón, are presented in each of its seasons. New works expressing important social issues are a hallmark of the company in performances that are thought-provoking and speak to the human spirit. WHCDC is known for its beautiful, athletic style in a repertory ranging from the lyric to the Avant Garde. This will be their ninth year participating in New Dance Partners.

–Midwest Trust Center

September & October Performances

New Dance Partners – The Ultimate Collaboration
September 16-17 | 8 p.m. | Yardley Hall

Opus 76 Quartet – Glass, Beethoven and Mendelssohn
MTC Artists-In-Residence

September 25 | 2 p.m. | Polsky Theatre

DEAFinitely Dope featuring Matt Maxey
September 29 | 7:30 p.m. | Polsky Theatre

Verona Quartet
A partnership with the Friends of Chamber Music – Kansas City

September 30 | 8 p.m. | Yardley Hall

Winterlude – Vine Street Rumble
October 2 | 7 p.m. | Yardley Hall

Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: The New Stage Adaptation
October 15 | 11 a.m. & 5 p.m. | Yardley Hall

Soweto Gospel Choir
October 16 | 7 p.m. | Yardley Hall

KC Jazz Orchestra/Hanover Big Band (Germany)
October 21 | 8 p.m. | Yardley Hall

An Evening with Jon Heder, Jon Gries and Efren Ramirez
Napoleon Dynamite – Film Screening and Conversation

October 22 | 8 p.m. | Yardley Hall

The Four Freshmen
October 28 | 8 p.m. | Yardley Hall

Piff the Magic Dragon and Puddles Pity Party
The Misery Loves Company tour

October 30 | 7 p.m. | Yardley Hall

Purchase tickets at jccc.edu/MidwestTrustCenter
Midwest Trust Center Box Office (913-469-4445)
Mon – Fri, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

CategoriesArts Consortium

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