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Kansas City Ballet, Missouri’s largest ballet company, is about to feel an incredible void.  After two decades of onstage grace and power, principal dancer Kimberly Cowen will give her final performance on May 13, 2012.  She’ll dance the “Russian Girl” in George Balanchine’s Serenade and the Vamp in the late Todd Bolender‘s Souvenirs–a comedic story ballet that was first performed in 1955 by the New York City Ballet.

Kimberly Cowen in Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Duex, Courtesy of KCB/Photography by Steve Wilson

Perhaps, it is the most fitting way for Cowen to bid Kansas City audiences adieu in one of Bolender’s ballets, as he was the former artistic director of KCB and first discovered the St. Louis native when she was 16.  He made her a company member only a year later.  She has since performed hundreds of principal roles in classical and contemporary repertoire and has been praised for her ability to excel in a range of techniques and styles, from Balanchine to Tharp. Additionally, many choreographers, including current KCB director William Whitener, have created ballets on her.  It is rare to find a dancer who is able to execute both technical and theatrical roles with such artistry and consistency as Cowen.

Brief bio time is over.  Now, let’s get real.  For my first DIYdancer entry, I decided to share the amazing artistry of this extraordinary talent.

Meet Kim.  Yes, she is an accomplished ballerina, but spending time with her both in and outside of the ballet setting makes one realize she is much more.  She is an anomaly in this profession, teaching myself and many others how to be a well rounded individual and not just a dancer.  She is equally comfortable talking shop as she is talking about her beloved St. Louis Cardinals. And I’m sure she will leave the ballet with a permanently soaked shoulder from all of her colleagues’ tears.


I had the honor to interview Kim about her career from a slightly different angle.  The knowledge that

Kimberly Cowen, Courtesy of KCB/Photography by Steve Wilson

she has gained over her life and years with the ballet is just too good to be kept in Kansas City. So over the next few entries, culminating with a write-up of her final performance, I will be sharing some of her insights and educational tools – not just for dancers, but people as well.

Stay tuned.


Written by Matthew Donnell

Matthew Donnell

A graduate of North Carolina School of the arts, Matthew Donnell is a freelance dancer, actor, clown, instructor, and film maker residing in NYC. After a decade with the Kansas City Ballet, he turned his focus toward musical theater and teaching. He strives to bring the humor of his life into his art in order to promote artistic health for himself and those around him.