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Todd Bolender To Be Honored At 2nd Annual Kansas City Dance Festival

This weekend, the second annual Kansas City Dance Festival gets under way, assembling dancers and choreographers from the local, national and international stage.

A recent rehearsal found dancers Logan Pachciarz and Molly Wagner working on a pas de deux under the watchful eye of departing Kansas City Ballet ballet master James Jordan, as they honed both steps and expression during a walk through of the late Todd Bolender’s "The Still Point."

The piece, set to the music of Debussy, holds a special resonance for Kansas City Dance Festival co-artistic directors Anthony Krutzkamp and Logan Pachciarz. Early in their careers they had a personal connection to Bolender, a dancer, choreographer and director emeritus of the Kansas City Ballet. 

Credit Kansas City Ballet / Courtesy
Todd Bolender is best known for 'The Still Point,' choreographed in 1955. Bolender served as artistic director for the Kansas City Ballet from 1981-1995.

"Both Logan and I worked with Todd when we were younger," says Krutzcamp, who recently retired from the Ballet and now manages the second company, KCB II.

"He was extremely meticulous, especially about the articulation of the feet," he says. "It was fun and sometimes exhausting to work with him, in a good way of course."

Work that stands the test of time 

According to the co-directors, including "The Still Point" in the festival was a way to mark this year, the 100th anniversary of Bolender’s birth.

"'The Still Point' is Todd's most celebrated piece. It really is a gem that has lasted the test of time," Krutzkamp says. "'The Still Point' embodies what dance is in Kansas City and it shows where we can go in the future."

Pachciarz says it is the simplicity of the work that speaks to him.

"The piece as a whole contains masterful, gestural emotions that evoke a very human response in the performer, and, in my experience, an equally powerful response from the audience," he says. "The intrinsic value of 'The Still Point' is reason enough to include it on our program, but when considering its seminal role in the history of dance in this city, it truly feels like an honor to have the opportunity to present this work to our audience."

A collaboration of choreographers and dancers

Dancers from the Kansas City Ballet and the Owen/Cox Dance Group, as well as from companies such as Joffrey Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Nashville Ballet and Estonian National Ballet, will perform at the festival. The nine works on the program span a wide range of musical genres including contemporary, classical and country.

Nashville Ballet dancers will perform "Under The Lights" by dancer and choreographer Christopher Stuart featuring music by Johnny Cash.

Ma Cong, resident choreographer and principal dancer of the Tulsa Ballet, returns for his second time at the festival with a new work, "Calling."  Created for the Houston Ballet II in 2010, it has a Spanish feel. Pachciarz says it has an intensity that has been challenging for the dancers.

Both Krutzkamp and Pachciarz say they bring a wealth of experience to the second year of the dance festival.

"This year Logan and I have really tried to delegate roles through our small little organization," says Krutzcamp. "This way each one of us can concentrate on what is most important on the timeline."

Kansas City Dance Festival, June 20-21 at the Helen F. Spencer Theatre in the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, UMKC Campus, 4949 Cherry St., Kansas City, Mo., 816-235-6222.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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