Kansas City Ballet Announces New Company Members, Dancer Promotions And Second Company Manager/Ballet Master

New Moves: Dancers Whitney Huell and Lamin Pereira dos Santos (Photo by Kenny Johnson)

(Kansas City, MO) – Kansas City Ballet (KCB) Artistic Director Devon Carney announced the promotion of one member and appointment of five new dancers to the Company and 15 new Second Company dancers. Devon also announced an addition to the artistic staff of Christopher Ruud as the Manager of Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company and Ballet Master.

Carney said: “I’m so excited to welcome Christopher to Kansas City Ballet. Recently retired as a former principal dancer with Ballet West, he brings a wealth of experiences and knowledge to a new generation of aspiring dancers here in Kansas City. Since my arrival, it has been my intent to develop dancers within our organization and create a seamless bridge for those dancers interested in making a career here in Kansas City, with some of the most established and renowned faculty and guest artists available.”

“This year, we are thrilled to announce not only his appointment but a growing number of promotions. This is a testament not only to the accomplishments of these artists but of the level of support, interest and commitment from the community. Kansas City is truly a destination for dance.”

Company Members

New Members Heather Nichols, Naomi Tanioka and Craig Wasserman, will join the Kansas City Ballet Company.

Company Apprentices

Sidney Haefs, formerly a 2018-2019 KCB Trainee, will join the Company as an Apprentice this season. Zachary Boresow, from Joffrey Studio Co., also will join the Company as an Apprentice.

Second Company (KCB II and Trainees make up the Second Company)


Georgia Fuller, formerly a 2018-2019 KCB Trainee, and Bernard DuBois II, formerly a Kansas City Ballet Summer Intensive student, will join KCB II. New members Ethan Ahuero, Roma Catania, Joshua Kiesel, and Fiona Lee also will join KCB II.


Graduates of Kansas City Ballet School Colleen McKenzie, Talia Lebowitz, Timothy T.V. Cao and Kansas City Ballet Summer Intensive students Priyana Acharya, Callahan Akmakjian-Porter, Lauren Vogel, and Jasmine Wheeler also will join the Trainee Program.

Sophie Hod, Jessica Ousterhout, and Katy Schwarzweller all will join the Trainee Program.

New Artistic Staff

Second Company Manager/Ballet Master Christopher Ruud (Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)

Christopher Ruud
Receiving most of his dance training at San Francisco Ballet School, Christopher Ruud began his performing career on the War Memorial Opera House stage at the age of 9. Mr. Ruud was hired into Ballet West in 1998. Quickly moving through the ranks, he was named Principal Dancer in 2004. He spent the last 21 years as an artist for Ballet West performing a huge range of classical and contemporary repertoire. In his time with the company, he danced major roles in the great works of Balanchine, Kylián, Forsythe, Ashton, Tudor and Cranko to name a few. He worked personally with some of the great names in the ballet world such as Sir Anthony Dowell, Cynthia Gregory, Hans Van Mannen and Bruce Marks.

Mr. Ruud has seen success as a choreographer having his ballets performed in the Ballet West Innovations program and at the annual gala performance garnering such awards as a New York Choreographic Institute Fellowship as well as several NEA grants. He spent two years as the Director of Ballet West 2 teaching, coaching and choreographing for a group of 10-12 young dancers, most of whom were hired into the main company. For the past seven years, Mr. Ruud has directed his own small company, RUUDDANCES, performing in the Annual Utah Arts Festival and touring to Jacobs Pillow.

New Company Members

Heather Nichols (Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)

Heather Nichols
Heather Nichols was born in Richmond, Va., and began her dance training at The West End Academy of Dance under Mary Monroe at the age of 4. She then joined The School of Richmond Ballet for two years in the upper program, after which she was invited to join the Richmond Ballet trainee program in 2011, under the direction of Stoner Winslett. During this time, she performed with the professional company in their productions of The Nutcracker, Giselle, and Romeo and Juliet. From 2011-2015, Ms. Nichols attended Butler University and received her BA in Dance Pedagogy and Pre-Physical Therapy.

During her time at Butler, Ms. Nichols performed many leading roles in The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Viva Vivaldi, Giselle, Cinderella, and Coppelia. In 2015, Ms. Nichols was offered a contract with Ballet San Antonio, where she performed many featured roles in works including Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake, Bruce Wells’ Beauty and the Beast, Peter Anastos’ Peter Pan, Willy Shives’ Giselle, Haley and Easton Wells’ The Nutcracker, and Yosvanni Cortellan’s Carmen, George Balanchine’s Rubies, and Gerald Arpino’s Viva Vivaldi.

Naomi Tanioka (Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)

Naomi Tanioka
Naomi Tanioka, originally from Sapporo, Japan, started her training with Chida Toshiko Ballet Studio. Naomie was accepted into the Royal Winnipeg Ballet school where she concluded six years of professional ballet training. In 2014, Ms. Tanioka joined Ballet Arizona, where she had the opportunity to perform cygnets in Swan Lake, Pas de Six in Napoli, Walpurgishnacht, Western Symphony, and Sleeping Beauty.

She joined Cincinnati Ballet in 2016 where she had the opportunity to perform ballets choreographed by Victoria Morgan, George Balanchine, Kirk Peterson, Septime Webre, Devon Carney, Adam Hougland and Nicole Fonte and work with choreographers such as Penny Saunders, Myles Thatcher, Kate Wear and Travis Walls.

Craig Wasserman (Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)

Craig Wasserman
Craig Wasserman received his ballet training on scholarship at the School of American Ballet. In 2012, Mr. Wasserman joined Pennsylvania Ballet as an apprentice, and was promoted to Corps de Ballet in 2013.

With Pennsylvania Ballet, Mr. Wasserman had the opportunity to perform many Principal roles, including; Baslio in Don Quixote, Conrad and Birbanto in Le Corsaire, Cavalier and Candy Cane in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake (Pas de Trois) Polyphonia (Waltz Couple), DGV (4th Movement), Justin Peck’s Chutes and Ladders, Asphodel Meadows (Third Movement), Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free (Second Sailor), William Forsythe’s The Second Detail, Trey McIntyre’s The Accidental, and George Balanchine’s Tarantella, The Four Temperaments (Sanguinic), and Western Symphony (First Movement).

New Company Apprentice

Company Apprentices perform with the company under the tutelage of the artistic leadership as part of their initial professional experience.

Zachary Boresow (Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)

Zachary Boresow
Zachary Boresow, a Kansas City native, began his training at Kansas City Ballet School before moving to train at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet with the renowned Marcia Dale Weary. While there, he performed leading roles in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Divertimento No. 15, Emeralds, Raymonda Variations, Serenade, Valse Fantasie, and Western Symphony and works by Alan Hineline. Following CPYB, Mr. Boresow trained at the San Francisco Ballet School. There, he performed in Helgi Tommason’s The Nutcracker, John Neumeier’s Yondering, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella.

After joining Joffrey Ballet’s Studio Company in 2017, Mr. Boresow performed as Franz in Coppelia, Pas de Trois in Swan Lake, and Pas De Deux in Paquita as well as roles in Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker, August Bournonville’s Napoli and works by Alexander Ekman and Paul Taylor.

Promoted Company Apprentice

Sidney Haefs (Photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)

Sidney Haefs
Sidney Haefs was born in Los Angeles, Calif. She trained at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy under the direction of Corinne Glover. Participating in Royal Academy of Dance Exams, she holds her Advanced 2 certificate with distinction. Ms. Haefs continued her education at the University of Utah where she graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Ballet and a Minor in Human Development and Family Studies.

Upon graduation, she was offered a trainee position with KCB for the 2018-2019 season. During this time, she had the opportunity to perform in Septime Weber’s The Wizard of Oz, Devon Carney’s The Nutcracker, and Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias.

New KCB II Dancers

KCB II, a program connected with Kansas City Ballet School and a part of the second company of Kansas City Ballet, is Kansas City Ballet’s emerging professionals program, giving talented young dancers a professional company experience. Dancers in the KCB II program are selected from auditions around the country. These dancers receive professional experience performing corps de ballet roles in Kansas City Ballet full-length productions.

KCB II is committed to arts education, community engagement and the development of aspiring young artists preparing them for professional dance careers. KCB II provides a platform for emerging performers, teachers and choreographers to hone their technical skills and showcase their artistic talent. KCB II performs throughout the region through public performances, lecture demonstrations, residencies and workshops, enabling the community to experience live dance in a public setting. Dancers in KCB II act as ambassadors for Kansas City Ballet.

Ethan Ahuero
Ethan Ahuero was born in Roanoke, Va., where he began his ballet training with Roanoke Ballet Theatre as a member of the City Youth Ballet. Mr. Ahuero has attend summer programs at Richmond Ballet, The Rock in Philadelphia, Orlando Ballet, and Boston Ballet. In 2017, Ethan moved to the Orlando Ballet School as a trainee and in 2018 he was promoted to the second company. There he has danced under the direction of Diedre Miles Burger, Phillip Broomhead, and Robert Hill.

Since his time in Orlando Ethan has competed in the Youth America Grand Prix, performed Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream, soloist roles in Arcadian Broads Seasons, and Russian in Robert Hills Nutcracker. He is very excited to join KCB II for his first season.

Roma Catania
Roma Catania, a Joffrey Chicago trainee graduate, grew up in Edmond, Okla., where she attended The Dance Center of Oklahoma City Ballet. She participated in state-wide performances and demonstrations as a member of OKCB’s Youth Company. Ms. Catania performed as Clara in The Nutcracker and other lead children’s roles throughout OKC’s professional seasons. During the summers of 2009-2015, she attended summer intensives throughout the United States including The School of American Ballet in NYC, Chicago Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Miami City Ballet.

Ms. Catania was a full-time student with Houston Ballet Academy prior to moving to New York to train with the Pre-Professional division of the American Ballet Theater’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School for two years. Upon graduation in 2016, she was accepted into the American Ballet Theater’s Studio Company.

Joshua Kiesel
Joshua Kiesel was born in Hanover Park, Ill., and began his professional training with Faubourg School of Ballet. Mr. Kiesel trained there for three years before competing in the Youth American Grand Prix, where he received a full scholarship to train with Xiomara Reyes and Rinat Imaev at The Washington School of Ballet. While there, Mr. Kiesel performed the roles of Lankadem in Le Corsaire, Basilio in Don Quixote, and Count Fabio in Satanella. Mr. Kiesel was then promoted to Trainee with The Washington Ballet under the direction of Julie Kent where he performed Chinese soloist and the Prince in The Nutcracker.

Fiona Lee
Fiona Lee began her ballet training at Yellowstone Ballet School in Livingston, Mont. Upon receiving an invitation to continue her dance studies at the School American Ballet’s Winter Term, Ms. Lee moved to New York City at age 13 where she would perform in SAB’s Winter Ball and annual Workshop performance and participate in Student Choreographic Workshops as both a performer and choreographer. Ms. Lee has attended summer programs at San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Jose Limón, as well as School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Ballet West on scholarship.

After graduating high school, she joined PNB’s Professional division program where she performed with the company in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also performed in PNB school productions of Jerome Robbin’s Fanfare, Bruce Well’s Pinocchio, and contemporary ballet works by Kiyon Ross, Christopher D’Ariano, and Margaret Mullin.

Bernard DuBois II
Bernard DuBois II started his professional training in 2010 at Canada’s National Ballet School under the direction of Mavis Staines. Following this in 2013, he attended Montreal’s L’Ecole Superieure de Ballet du Quebec, directed by Anik Bissonette, under full scholarship. Here, he was given the opportunity to perform lead roles in excerpts of ballets such as La Bayadere and Swan Lake.

Mr. DuBois also has performed Fernand Nault’s Casse-Noisette with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal in 2015 and 2016. Following his training in Montreal, for three years Mr. DuBois worked professionally with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tenn. During this time, he had the privilege of performing as a guest soloist for the Dance Theatre of Harlem in their revival of the legendary Geoffrey Holder’s Dougla for their 50th anniversary.

Promoted KCBII Dancer

Georgia Fuller
Georgia Fuller was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and trained with the Cincinnati Ballet Academy since the age of 7. Starting at the age of 15, she performed corps de ballet roles in many of the company’s productions including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Raymonda, and Coppelia. Ms. Fuller also is a 2017 National YoungArts Winner and was given the chance to compete and perform in both Miami and New York City under the guidance of esteemed faculty. Ms. Fuller joined Kansas City Ballet’s Second Company in 2017 and was a trainee for two years, performing with the company in works such as Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, The Wizard of Oz, and Lady of the Camellias.

New Trainee Dancers

The Trainee Program, which is a tuition-based program of Kansas City Ballet School, aims to nurture and develop young aspiring post-secondary dancers’ technical skills and artistry, ultimately preparing them for a professional dance career by bridging the gap between the student and KCB II.

In addition to their dance studies, trainees participate in some company classes, have the opportunity to be considered for performances with Kansas City Ballet Company during the season and perform in tandem with KCB II in their own educational and community outreach performances throughout the year.

Graduates of Kansas City Ballet School Colleen McKenzie, Talia Lebowitz, Timothy T.V. Cao and Kansas City Ballet Summer Intensive students Priyana Acharya, Callahan Akmakjian-Porter, Lauren Vogel, and Jasmine Wheeler will join the Trainee Program.

Sophie Hod, Jessica Ousterhout, and Katy Schwarzweller will join the Trainee Program.

About Kansas City Ballet

Making Kansas City a destination for dance

Founded in 1957, Kansas City Ballet is a 30-member professional ballet company under the leadership of Artistic Director Devon Carney and Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley. The company’s mission is to establish Kansas City Ballet as an indispensable asset in its community through exceptional performances, excellence in dance training and quality community education programs for all ages.

Kansas City Ballet is home to Kansas City Ballet School with an enrollment of 2,000+ children and adults offering professional training for the career-minded student as well as for those simply seeking a healthy lifestyle.

Through the professional company, second company (KCB II & Trainees), and community programs for all ages, Kansas City Ballet seeks to nurture and develop their artists, audiences and students in the values inherent in the creativity, diversity and joy of dance.

Kansas City Ballet’s home, the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity, in conjunction with its Resident Company status at the world-class Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, truly has positioned Kansas City as a destination for dance.

Press Release Via: Kansas City Ballet


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