Ramona Pansegrau – From IBC to Jacob’s Pillow

Below is a continuation from Music Director Ramona Pansegrau on her activities at the International Ballet Competition preparing for opening night, and then heading across the country to Jacob’s Pillow.


A few of the international jury & teachers, including Lauren Anderson, former principal at Houston Ballet, Ashley Wheater, director Joffrey Ballet, and Nina Ananiashvili, director of Georgia State Ballet

One of the things I love about coming to the competition, besides seeing wonderful dancers, is encountering friends and colleagues from all over the world.  You never know who will step into the elevator – an artistic director, a world famous ballerina, a friend from 30 years ago.  It is such a delight to reconnect and catch up.  The ballet world is such a small place – it seems you can find common ground with mutual friends, mutual companies, mutual beloved repertory – it’s just a joy.  Tonight was one of those times.  We were to gather in the lobby of the hotel to go to the governor’s reception.  One by one, as people joined the group of those waiting, new faces were greeted with hugs, kisses, loud delighted salutations – all in a variety of languages.  The gardenbuffetcacophony of meeting again made everyone smile, myself included.  We traveled in a caravan to the event – Edward Villella, Tatiana Tchernova, Nina Ananiashvili, and about eight more lauded names in the ballet world.  As I always expected, a car that fits eight normal people can hold about 12 dancers….

So, the preparation is over and the actual competition finally starts tomorrow night with the opening ceremonies.  I’ve gathered music, fixed orchestra parts, rehearsed the orchestra and all that culminates tomorrow with dress rehearsal and the opening of the X USA International Ballet Competition.  Stay tuned!



Maxim & Anna-Marie speaking with students.

studio_JacobspillowThe opening ceremonies of the IBC have been over for 24 hours – and since then, I’ve flown half way across the country to Jacob’s Pillow and spent the evening in an 18th century Inn having dinner with former ballerina and now internationally known ballet teacher and stager – Anna-Marie Holmes, and famed ABT principal ballet dancer Maxim Belerokovsky. What a weekend! Back to the IBC – the Saturday afternoon orchestra dress rehearsal went well, but the evening opening gala was spectacular. The parade of nations, with dancers proudly following their flags on to the stage as they entered through the audience, the entrance of the jury as they were cheered and warmly greeted by the audience, the torch – carried to the stage by Joseph Phillips, former gold medalist, and the lighting of the cauldron – all moments indelibly etched in my mind – each of which was accompanied by musical selections played by the Mississippi Symphony – creating unforgettable moments. The evening was very emotional for me, and one I feel so privileged to have conducted. So, the competition has hit the ground running – they will have 2 rounds of competition daily, eliminating dancers at the end of round 1 – which is a classical round. Round 2 will follow, with 1 session per day, with competitors showing their contemporary works. More eliminations. Round 3 will begin in a week – and I’ll return to keep on eye on what works remain and therefore may be chosen for the final galas. Hopefully, I can eliminate some pieces from the orchestral repertory – and the orchestra can stop practicing some of them!

In the meantime, I’m here at the Pillow. Tomorrow I start the day playing a master class for Maxim with the ballet program students – 22 promising young dancers chosen from around the world. In the afternoon, I’ll work on repertory works, staged by Anna-Marie, and former Royal Danish ballet director, Dinna Bjorn. In the evening, I’ll teach a music class/lecture to the students, followed by attending a talk by Joseph Morrissey, administrator for artistic planning and touring for the Hong Kong ballet. I’ve known Joseph since he was a ballet student at Boston Ballet and sang in my ‘Nutcracker’ chorus. I love it when that happens!  Hong Kong ballet opens the festival here on Wednesday. Oh, yeah – it’s also my birthday. What a great way to spend the day!



Ramona Pansegrau at IBC – Music Selections

Here’s an update from KCB Music Director Ramona Pansegrau as she guest conducts at the International Ballet Competition! In this guest post, Ms. Pansegrau discusses how the music is chosen for the awards gala. Surprisingly, the orchestra only has enough time for one rehearsal before the performance!


Rehearsal Venue

Today I spent most of the morning and afternoon checking music.  Preparing the orchestra for Jackson is a bit of a journey.  Actual preparation started months ago.  The orchestra plays the opening ceremonies with predefined music.  However, the awards gala at the end of the competition is an entirely different matter!  The winners are chosen after the final round of competition in the third week.  From the repertory the winners have competed with, a gala program is chosen – and that is what the orchestra will play.  I am usually called in to the jury room after the winners have been determined – which is well into the early hours of the morning.  At the point the gala program is decided, it’s usually around 3 am.  My orchestra rehearsal with that music is at 11 am – a mere 8 hours later.  That means the orchestra will have one rehearsal alone to prepare – and I have to have every piece of music that the competitors have competed with over 3 weeks available for them.  Kudos to Richard Hudson, the Mississippi Symphony librarian who keeps track of the boxes of music that come in over several months.  I borrow, rent, or buy what I can find – sometimes writing things out from audio recordings – whatever it takes.  The orchestra has piles of scores to practice, some of which are very difficult.  So for tonight’s rehearsal, I rehearsed music for Saturday as well as taking the opportunity to touch on a few of the larger pas de deux that may show up.  We crammed as much into that 2 1/2 hours as humanly possible – and the orchestra was really wonderful as I did my energizer bunny imitation moving through the repertory.  For the opening ceremony, I actually got to chose works that fit the occasion – as a ballet conductor, that’s a luxury, as I usually play the repertory chosen for the season.  So, on Saturday the evening with open with an orchestral overture – I’ve chosen the wonderful “invitation to the Dance” by Weber.  The jury will enter to Act 1 Scene 1 of Swan Lake – a rousing, joyous work.  The parade of nations – yes, just like the Olympics – will be to Pomp and Circumstance 4 (not your high school graduation Pomp – that’s number 3) – and the flame will be lit to the inspiring music of Copland – Fanfare to the Common Man.  Next rehearsal is Saturday afternoon for a dress and then Saturday night is the opening.   Tomorrow – all the jury arrives, dancers start teaching in the theater as Jackson goes into full gear – and the evening is a reception at the governor’s mansion.  Much more to come!


Guest Post – Music Director Ramona Pansegrau

Ramona_PansegrauRamona Pansegrau, Kansas City Ballet’s music director, leads a busy life over the summer! Guest conducting and playing the piano for various events and competitions around the nation are just a few of the things that occupy her summer months. Currently, Ms. Pansegrau is in Jackson, Miss., for the International Ballet Competition the Olympics of ballet as a guest conductor and music director. To give us some insight into this elite competition, she will be providing a few blog posts during her stay in Jackson.

Hello from Jackson, Miss. my first stop on a 3-week whirlwind of conducting and performing.  I arrived today in Jackson for the USA International Ballet Competition.  I’m guest conductor and music director for the competition and will conduct the opening ceremonies on Saturday night.  On Sunday, I fly to Jacob’s Pillow in Beckett, Mass., where I’ve been music director for the ballet program for 12 years, and will help prepare the final performance on Saturday, June 21.  Then on June 22, I fly back to Jackson for the final week of the competition and will conduct the Awards Gala on Saturday June 28, and the Encore Gala on Sunday the 29th.  

Ramona_IBCPassWhew! I thought it might be interesting to give a little flavor of what it’s like to be involved with these events, so I’ll be posting a bit each day, or as time allows.  First of all, the IBC is the Olympics of ballet.  It occurs every 4 years in Jackson by decree of Congress.  I’ve been involved for a few decades as competition pianist at the beginning, then music director, and now conductor.  Competitors come from all over the world and are judged by a panel of renowned international judges.  Most of the competitors are already here, rehearsing with their coaches in various venues all over the city.  Saturday night is official opening with the parade of nations, official torch lighting, followed by a grand southern party.  Tomorrow is my first orchestra rehearsal with the Mississippi symphony so more tomorrow!

~ Ramona

Dancer Spotlight: Yoshiya Sakurai

Yoshiya Sakurai just finished his fourth season with Kansas City Ballet. He is originally from Niigata City in Japan and has been dancing since the age of three. He has received numerous awards throughout his career and trained at many prestigious facilities around the US and Canada. Yoshiya’s most recent role with Kansas City Ballet was the Jester in our May production of Cinderella. Read below to learn more about Yoshiya.

Q: How did you get involved in dance?
A: I started ballet because my mom was a ballet dancer and teacher. I started dancing with her at the age of three. 

Q: How did you end up in the United States?
A: When I was 14 I attended Canada’s National Ballet School for four years. After I graduated, I landed my first job in New Jersey at American Repertory Ballet

Q: Are there any cultural differences between dancing in the US and Japan?
A: In Japan, dancing is not really a full-time job, and many dancers work other jobs. In the US, dancing full-time has many benefits and you work for a longer period of time throughout the year.

Q: What do you do when you’re not dancing?
A: I like to hang out with friends, play video games, and watch movies.

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I get coffee at Parisi in Union Station almost every morning before work!

Q:  What are you most looking forward to next season?
A: I am excited to be a part of our Artistic Director, Devon Carney’s first season (that he has chosen the programming). I look forward to seeing how our company grows. 

Q: What is the biggest difference between living in the US and Japan?
A: I think that would have to be the food in Japan – I miss it!

Q: What would you like to do in the future?
A: It would be great to help train a younger dancer that desires to become a professional!

Partners In Work and Life

Jill Marlow and Anthony Krutzkamp met in September of 2002 when Jill began her first season as company dancer with Cincinnati Ballet. They began dating in November, and you could say ‘the rest is history.’ Married since May of 2008, they are coming up on their 6th wedding anniversary.

The pair came to Kansas City Ballet in 2011 and have enjoyed dancing here since. Anthony will be retiring at the end of this season. His final performance onstage will be this coming Saturday as the ‘Prince’ in Cinderella.


Watch the video below to see one of Jill & Anthony’s last interviews together as ‘colleagues’ and hear what each has to say about the other when it comes to why they enjoy watching them dance.




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NEW MOVES opened this past weekend here at the Bolender Center. This choreographic showcase allows company dancers and outside guest choreographers to create new works on our dancers. This year six new works premiered, of which four were created by company dancers Charles Martin, Travis Guerin, Anthony Krutzkamp and Ian Poulis, and two by outside guests, Erin Lustig of Seamless Dance Theater and Ilya Kozadayev, former principle dancer with Houston Ballet.

Take a look below to see some highlights from this past weekend. If you’re in the area, you still have a couple chances to catch this great performance! Get your tickets for April 4 or 5 by visiting our website or calling 816-931-2232!


2014 Summer Intensive: Meet the Guest Faculty

Learn about the acclaimed guest faculty that will be joining us during Kansas City Ballet School’s 2014 Summer Intensive:

Simon Ball


Simon Ball joined Houston Ballet as a principal dancer in July 2003. He studied with School of American Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, The Conservatory of Point Park College, and The School of Classical Ballet (American Ballet Theatre’s training program). Before becoming a professional, he also performed as a guest artist with many companies in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Ball began his professional career in 1995 where he was a member of the corps de ballet, a soloist, and has been a principal dancer since 2003. Mr. Ball has performed leading roles in many important works including: Prince in The Sleeping Beauty; the slave in Le Corsaire (staged by Anna Marie Holmes and Natalia Dudinskaya); Oberon in Bruce Wells’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream; the prince in Cinderella (staged by Michael Corder) among others including many George Balanchine works.

Mr. Ball also received a number of prestigious awards including the Margarite Amelita Hoffman scholarship at the international ballet competition in Jackson, Mississippi (1990); the gold medal at the First International Ballet Competition in memory of Rudolf Nureyev (1994) in Budapest, Hungary; and the gold medal at the international ballet competition in Jackson, Mississippi (1994). He was invited to perform at the Benois de la Danse in Berlin, Germany (1999). LEARN MORE

Frances Perez-Ball


Frances Perez-Ball trained at Julian E. Blanco School of Performing Arts in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Hartford Ballet School, Eglevsky Ballet, and Point Park College. Frances began her career with Ballet Teatro Municipal de San Juan . As a principal dancer with Ballet Municipal, she toured the U.S. and Latin America performing various roles in full-length ballets such as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Swanhilda in Coppelia, and Kitri in Don Quixote.

Frances joined Boston Ballet in 1995. Her performances with Boston Ballet include featured roles in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Giselle, Dracula and many more. In 2003 Frances was invited to join Houston Ballet under the direction of Stanton Welch. There she performed works by Mr. Welch including Divergence and In the Garden of Myrth, among others.

Frances was the recipient of the 1999 Copa International Capezio Award for her outstanding work in ballet. She has also been on the teaching staff of Boston Ballet School, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Hope Stone, and the Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive.

Frances is married to Simon Ball – learn more about their story here.

Sarah Lane


Born in San Francisco, California, Sarah Lane began her dance training in Memphis, Tenn. under the direction of Pat Gillespie at the Memphis Classical Ballet. When her family moved to Rochester, New York, she continued instruction with Timothy Draper and Jamey Leverett at the Draper Center for Dance Education.

When Lane was 16, she received a full scholarship to the Boston Ballet’s Summer Program. She’s received many awards and performed at the Kennedy Center as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

Lane joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in August 2003, a member of the Company’s corps de ballet in April 2004 and a Soloist in August 2007. Her roles with the Company include a Shade in La Bayadère, Galya in The Bright Stream, Blossom in Cinderella, Gulnare in Le Corsaire, among many others. She created the Chinese Dance in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker and a role in Demis Volpi’s Private Light.

Lane was a recipient of the Princess Grace Award in 2007 and Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts in 2008. She was the dancing double for Natalie Portman in Fox Searchlight Pictures’ feature film Black Swan.

Anna-Marie Holmes


Anna-Marie Holmes has appeared as a ballerina and has taught in more than 30 countries on five continents. She was born in Canada and received her Grade 10 Certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music in piano. In N.Y. she continued her ballet studies with Felia Dubrovska and trained in Leningrad with Natalia Dudinskaya, Alexander Pushkin and Alla Shelest of the Kirov Ballet. Holmes was the first North American invited to perform with the Kirov Ballet in Russia.

Holmes founded the International Academy of Dance Costa do Sol in Portugal and served as its co-artistic director. She has staged many works, and her staging of Le Corsaire appeared on PBS’s Great Performances, for which it won an Emmy Award.

Holmes joined Boston Ballet in 1985 and in 1997 was named Artistic Director of the company and Dean of Faculty for the Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education. Holmes was Artistic Director of the School of the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi in 1990 and 1994 and, in 1997, she received the Dance Magazine Award for extraordinary and lasting contributions to the art form.

Holmes is very active in her work as a judge for Youth American Grand Prix, travelling throughout the U.S. each year for their preliminary and final competitions. Teaching and staging continues to take her around the globe. She is in constant demand as a judge, guest teacher and choreographer.

To view extensive bios on each guest faculty member, visit our Summer Intensive page and scroll to the bottom.

Take a Bite Out of ‘Dracula’

Loved Dracula? Sad that its run is over at the Kauffman Center?

A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this production. Take a step back in time by watching our behind-the-scenes and production sneak peek videos. Admittedly, they are less intense than seeing it live, but we hope you’ll enjoy the insight provided!

The Characters:




The Performance:



‘Undead’ Takeover of the Mayor’s Office

This week we had an exciting adventure at City Hall with our KCB II dancers!

Dressed as the Undead from Dracula, they took over the office of Mayor Sly James! Thankfully, the Mayor was patient with our ‘Undead,’ as they rummaged through his office and even accidentally knocked a few things over….Check out photos and video below to see more of our takeover!

Don’t miss our Undead in Dracula, Feb. 21 – March 2 at the Kauffman Center! Select your own seats online or call the Ballet Box Office at 816-931-2232 to order your tickets today!