Hello Atelier 018

Devon Carney

October 26, 2017

Artistic Director Devon Carney talks about his late introduction to ballet, being mentored by Rudolf Nureyev, and guiding the Kansas City Ballet.

Hello Atelier 018

Devon Carney

I vividly remember the day I got my first pair of pointe shoes. I sat in the corner of the dance studio – stuffed lambswool and padding in the hard toes – and jumped to my feet. I had started dance much later than the other girls in my class, who had broken in their shoes months before. I watched in envy as they hopped right to their toes and walked around, like it was nothing. Now it was my turn. I stood in front of the mirror and drew myself up on my toes, where I was met with resounding pain. Oh, those beautiful shoes, how they hurt! Alas, a career as a dancer was not in the cards for me.

Going to the ballet however, is an experience that is completely painless. The lights go down and for a few hours you are swept into a magnificent story with beautiful costumes and the most exquisite dancing. This week’s guest, Devon Carney, has been on both sides of the stage curtain. He became a professional dancer right out of high school, working with some of the biggest names in the dance world, including Rudolf Nureyev. Today he is the Artistic Director of the Kansas City Ballet, where he chooses the productions that the ballet will perform, and also choreographs many of the dances himself.

We met with Devon in the newly re-modeled building that houses the ballet and its dance school. Through a maze of cubicles, racks of costumes and walls of posters from previous shows, we found Devon in his office. For me, talking with him gave me a glimpse into a world that I’ve always envied from afar – one of artistry, emotion and amazing physical control. On Monday nights, when I visit the school to take my own beginning ballet class, I think about our conversation and get to pretend that I am just starting the training that will catapult me into a professional ballet career.

Oh, and for those pointe shoes? I still have the last pair that I wore when I took class in high school. And yes, sometimes after seeing a particularly inspiring performance, I will come home and put them on. And then take them off quickly, because, man, do they still hurt!

What’s happening in Devon’s World:

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” by Tchaikovsky (Artur Rodzinski, conductor) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

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