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After 30-Year Career With The Kansas City Ballet, James Jordan Moves On

After nearly three decades with the Kansas City Ballet, Ballet Master James Jordan has accepted the same post with The Sarasota Ballet as of the 2014-2015 season.

Devon Carney, the Ballet's artistic director, said in a news release that Jordan's national reputation as a stager of Anthony Tudor ballets led to the Florida connection.

"His recent work with The Sarasota Ballet, which has a deep commitment to the Tudor works, afforded them the opportunity to see his value and shared passion for the historical works of Tudor and others," said Carney. "It was clear that the artistic values both Jordan and The Sarasota Ballet artistic leadership share, provided a natural progression for both parties."

An 'elegant presence' on stage and off

A Virginia native, Jordan is one of the Kansas City Ballet's last artistic ties with the late Todd Bolender, artistic director emeritus. Jordan's formal dance training started at the Richmond Ballet as a college freshman and three years later he was recruited by Bolender, a noted dancer and choreographer, from the North Carolina School for the Arts for his first company of dancers in Kansas City, Mo.

A member of the company from 1981 to 1987, Jordan returned to serve as Ballet Master from 1991 to the present.

Most recently, he performed the role of Dr. Van Helsing in the Ballet's Dracula, described in a review by The Independent's Paul Horsley as "an elegant presence."

Pushing the dancers and their technique

One of Jordan's most defining roles might be the one he played each year behind-the-scenes putting together the annual production of The Nutcracker. As Ballet Master, Jordan led the professional company, and more than 200 students from the Ballet School, through a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule.

Jordan plans to return in December to assist in the staging of the final year of performances of Todd Bolender's The Nutcracker.

"There are so many times where he (Bolender) would just push down on the arms of his chair, just leap to his feet and start working ... every opportunity he had to push, he did," Jordan told KCUR in a 2006 interview shortly after Bolender's death at the age of 92. "The Nutcracker is such a wonderful vehicle for pushing the techniques of our dancers and their artistry."

A search begins

Carney said that Jordan "will be dearly missed."

He added that, "While technically the role of the Ballet Master is to assist with scheduling and the rehearsals for the Company, James was so, so much more than that. He truly was the ‘glue’ that held us all together. We wish him the best."

According to officials, the search for a new Ballet Master begins immediately.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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