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Segment 1: Will new leadership mean a new chapter for the American Jazz Museum?

The American Jazz Museum just welcomed a new executive director, and she's already in the thick of it. She discussed the current state of the struggling museum and where she sees it going under her direction.

Segment 1: Research shows white-sounding names curry favor in academic settings.

Xian Zhao's name means something to him. It means something to his parents. That's why he won't adopt what he calls an "anglo name." But his own research suggests he might be missing opportunities because of that.

  • Xian Zhao, researcher, University of Toronto

Segment 2, beginning at 14:47: A recent Calvin Arsenia album is a milestone in his professional and personal growth.

Lisa Choules

A dancer who hears "elevé" knows to push herself up onto her toes. In 2010, when retired ballerina Lisa Choules needed an apt name for her fledgling dancewear company, the term sounded just right.

Everyone needed a lift: She was a single mom scouting for a new career; ballerinas needed a better-fitting leotard.

Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios

"The Nutcracker" is a December tradition for audiences big and small, at elaborate productions by professional dance companies as well as small dance studios. In recent years, however, more people have expressed discomfort with stereotypes of Asians in the Chinese Dance in the Land of the Sweets.

On Friday, the Kansas City Ballet announced the company has signed on to a national campaign called Final Bow for Yellowface, a pledge to remove outdated caricatures. 

Segment 1: A Kansas City dance performance is a transatlantic collaboration.

Krystle Warren and Brad Cox have been musical collaborators for years, continuing to make music together across an ocean. As Warren prepares to head from Paris to Kansas City for an October performance, the two discuss their shared history and their craft.

Segment 1: The way we remember Emmett Till is still rooted in race and geography.

A KU professor who thought he knew the Emmett Till story was shocked by what he learned when he traveled to the Mississippi Delta for himself. That sent him on a journey to try to sort through the tangled threads of this haunting history. 

Segment 2: Men and boys in ballet speak out.

Mike Strong

How many words are necessary to thrill an audience with a murder mystery? Choreographer Kristopher Estes-Brown says he can do it in two: "Look out!"

After all, he suggests, excitement happens in the body as much as in the mind.

"If you're trying to say very visceral things — fear and intrigue and distrust — the body is a really good vessel for that," Estes-Brown says.

The words "look out" are the only ones spoken in what is otherwise a dance performance. Titled "Alibi," its show is billed as a noir thriller.

The Kansas City Ballet recently earned national recognition — backed up with significant financial support — when the Hearst Foundations awarded $100,000 to a program that introduces third and fourth-grade students to dance fundamentals. 

Mike Strong

Creating high quality art for kids is no easy task. As an audience, they’re pure in their responses: If the work engages them, they’ll roar in approval; if not, they’ll (at best) stare glaze-eyed or (at worst) rumble with disinterest as they turn their attention elsewhere.

The 800 middle- and high school students who whooped and chattered excitedly at the world premiere of a sophisticated new dance theater concept apparently approved of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey's performances at the Folly Theater on Wednesday and Thursday.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

In the 1950s, SuEllen Fried got a call asking if she'd like to teach the cha-cha to psychiatric patients at the Osawatomie State Hospital.

She'd danced in St. Louis's Muny Opera as a teen and she'd made plans to move to New York to pursue a career in dance on Broadway. But at the last minute, she fell in love, moved to Kansas City, got married and started a family instead.

Elizabeth Stehling

For years, ballet dancer Whitney Huell had an ornament of the Sugar Plum Fairy from "The Nutcracker" hanging on her Christmas tree. The miniature ballerina was African-American like Huell.

"This is a very iconic role and a role that many dancers dream of doing, myself included," Huell told Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann. The role of Sugar Plum Fairy is so big, in fact, that Huell barely allowed herself to think snagging it was possible, though she’s been a professional dancer for a decade.

courtesy Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey

The CEO of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, Harlan Brownlee, will leave that role at the end of this year, but it won't mark the end of a 35-year career in arts education and administration. Instead, Brownlee says, he's going back to his roots. 

"I'm integrating dance and movement and using that to help teach different science concepts," he explains.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

It's Nutcracker season, and ballet dancers everywhere are preparing for the biggest performances of the year. But their productions also rely on colorful backgrounds onstage, which is where Kenmark Scenic Backdrops of downtown Overland Park comes in.

Victoria Botero

A new combination of ancient song and contemporary dance draws beauty from the hidden history of women.

“Morena” is a Spanish word meaning “beautiful dark woman.” It is also the name of the latest project between Kansas City soprano and musicologist Victoria Botero, the Owen/Cox Dance Group, and a cadre of international musicians.

Kenny Johnson

A new ballet with an original score isn’t quite as rare an event as a house falling on a witch, but it is an exciting chance to shape a fresh telling of the beloved story.

L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” set in Kansas, sparked 13 sequels, story spin-offs, and multiple adaptations on stage and film.

Mike Strong

Partnering, in dance as in life, requires trust, collaboration and strength. Jokes are important, too.

Helix Architecture + Design

The University of Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday announced the merger of two arts programs: the Conservatory of Music and Dance and the Department of Theatre. 

The theater department will move from the College of Arts and Sciences to a school in the Conservatory, according to an email to faculty and staff written by UMKC Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer.

Segment 1: A local dance troupe performs an original piece based on people's experience with cancer.

The Owen/Cox Dance Group has collaborated with Gilda's Club Kansas City and will perform a piece about how people's lives are impacted by cancer. We talk to the choreographer, and we hear from patients, survivors and caregivers.

Elizabeth Stehling / Kansas City Ballet

In an art form as brutal as it is beautiful, breaking through the tried-and-true blockbusters of classic ballet and strict company structure is difficult. New work and new talent is a risk. Creating new work not only requires learning new steps, but also changing perspectives, generating curiosity and challenging expectations.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Lonnie and Ronnie McFadden, of Kansas City's McFadden Brothers, grew up at 19th and Euclid, on Kansas City's east side. They've been a tap-dancing duo for as long as they can remember. But it wasn't until long after the art form went out of style that they made it their own — and made it cool

"We grew up in a household that was probably about as close to Norman Rockwell as I've seen to this day," says Lonnie, remembering the elaborate hot meals his mom used to make before working evenings at a country club.

From a collaboration between a big-band trombonist and two local rappers to an opera about an ill-fated expedition on Mt. Everest, it's been a busy year in the local arts scene. Our panel of avid arts-goers share their favorite moments from 2017.

Guests:

Public Domain

Few people bring Kansas City's history to life like Monroe Dodd. But in light of our resident chronicler's move to Colorado, we indulge on one more journey through the great folklore of our town. Then, Kansas City Ballet's lead dancer, Lamin Pereira, shares his experience performing in The Nutcracker. ​Also, learn about a crisis rural America is facing through the lens of a novelist.

Guests:

In light of a new Evel Knievel museum opening in Topeka earlier this year, we look back at the legacy of an all-American daredevil.

Then, we visit with Kansas City native and ballet icon Misty Copeland. Also, we learn about the story of the 'lone tater tot' at Winstead's. 

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

On Wednesday, the Kansas City Ballet opens the first of seven prestigious performances of “The Nutcracker” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., capping a year and a half of planning and meeting a massive logistical challenge.

Moving the entire production required four 52-foot semi trucks. Besides 30 company dancers, the Ballet brought along 12 second-company members and around 20 crew members and artistic and administrative staff.

The McFadden brothers are musicians, singers and tap dancers. They learned how to tap from their father, the legendary Smilin' Jimmy McFadden, and they've just received a 2017 Living Legends awards from the Tapology Music Institute, a national organization. Hear their story, which starts at 29th and Euclid.

Guests:

South African Tourism / Flickr — CC

How can you keep it in?

Don’t even try this weekend, with so many activities to tempt your expressive side, from the pure nostalgia of “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees” (one of them, anyway) to the opportunity to literally skate away from your troubles.

So how can you not let it out? There you go.

1. ‘50 Summers of Love’

The International Sculpture Conference is in Kansas City this year. We hear from three local artists on what's changing in the world of sculpture. 

Karen Almond / Dallas Opera

Young Friends of Art, a networking group for The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, has been around for more than two decades. Then there are a few upstarts, like Kansas City Symphony's new Maestro KC, which "connects people to the music they love and the musicians who make it possible." 

Publichall / Wikimedia Commons

Modern dance just wouldn't be the same without Kansas City-raised David Parsons. Today, we meet the star choreographer behind works commissioned and performed by troupes in New York, Paris and just about any other city with a ballet scene. Then, we explore the economic relationship between small towns and big businesses. Learn how rural communities are able to encourage, attract and, more importantly, keep hold of new jobs.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

At dusk on Friday, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art celebrates the Bloch Building's 10th anniversary with dance, sound sculpture and light. The free, outdoor event features around 40 dancers, musicians and technicians from the performance art collective Quixotic

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