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The Dance Enthusiast Travels to Kansas for a Photo Essay: Peeking into the Kansas City Ballet's Exuberant Production of “The Wizard of Oz”

The Dance Enthusiast Travels to Kansas for a Photo Essay: Peeking into the Kansas City Ballet's Exuberant Production of “The Wizard of Oz”

By Serena S.Y. Hsu

Published on October 18, 2018
Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press

Choreography: Septime Webre l Costumes: Liz Vandal l Artistic Direction of Kansas City Ballet: Devon Carney

Brimming with color and magical dance, the world premiere Wizard of Oz is dazzling.

Under artistic director Devon Carney, Kansas City Ballet — the classical company that has no desiginated principal dancers — brings the beloved tale to life with Septime Webre's masterful choreography, Liz Vandal's vivacious costumes, and Nicholas Mahon's kinetic puppetry. 

“The whole production is about love and how love’s intention brings courage, intelligence, heart into the subconscious," says Vandal.

Together, the collaborators set out to figure out, "how do we give this love to the audience?" 

For The Dance Enthusiast, the creative team shares their insights into the ballet with photos of the world premiere.

The images feature scenes that were inspired by 1949 MGM film The Wizard of Oz, and the eponymous 1900 L. Frank Baum’s book in which it's based. 

Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press

Devon Carney :  Dorothy (Amanda DeVenuta) has a fully emotionally-realized persona with an eternal optimism [amid] the challenges she faces along her pathway down the yellow brick road to discover that indeed home is the best place.

From l-r: Miss Gulch (Danielle Bausinger), a farmhand (Angelin Carrant) and Zeke (Liang Fu). Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press 

Pastoral Kansas with chicken coop and farmhouse setting by set designer Michael Raiford. Aunt Em (Kaleena Burks) offers homebaked pies. 


Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press

Professor Marvel (Humberto Rivera Bianco) tells Dorothy (Amanda DeVenuta) that a storm is coming and she must return home.  

Foreground-r. to background-l.: Josh Bodden, Cameron Thomas, and Gavin Abercrombie.
Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press


Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press

Liz Vandal: Costume is like a guiding line, interwoven . . . How do you link a parade of costumes into a storybook masterpiece? What is real, what is imagination, and what is the dream? Dorothy is at the center of this balance.

Devon Carney: Liz’s ingenious technique was to make every costume . . . asymmetrical except for Dorothy. 

 Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press

As the Tin Man (Lamin Pereira dos Santos) dances, his mechanical movements are punctuated by the trills and harmonics of composer-violinist Pierce’s musical score. 

Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press 

Devon Carney: With remarkable attention to the details, Liz has brought to life in a very imaginative way all these beautiful characters straight out of the book. Her sense of whimsy in the Land of Oz is . . . inspiring with the entire lexicon of characters. And the colors are incredible. The poppies are such a striking red, the citizens of Emerald City are covered as such — rich, deep and vibrant. 

Dorothy (Amanda DeVenuta) and Toto (Jeremy Hanson) get their glam-on. Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press

Devon Carney: Fantastic huge pieces of Emeralds (by Raiford) create a moving scenic backdrop with a disco ball to complete the look.


The farewell to Dorothy 

Pictured l-r: Toto (Jeremy Hanson), the Lion (Liang Fu), the Scarecrow (James Kirby Rogers), Dorothy (Amanda DeVenuta), and the Tin Man (Lamin Pereira dos Santos). Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |Zuma Press

Kansas City Ballet's  October 2018 world premiere 
Look for future performances by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (May 2-5, 2019) and the Colorado Ballet (February 1-10, 2019)

Choreographer: Septime Webre  

Artistic Director: Devon Carney 

Costume Designer: Liz Vandal 
Puppetry design by Nicholas Mahon (Pyeongchang Olympics ceremonies)
Set design by Michael Raiford / Music by Composer-Violinist Matthew Pierce

Kansas City Symphony conducted by Ramona Pansegrau / Lighting design and design coordination by Trad A. Burns
Projection design by Aaron Rhyne


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