James Jordan of the Kansas City Ballet will become ballet master in Sarasota, Fla.

04/11/2014 8:13 AM

04/11/2014 8:13 AM

James Jordan, a dancer, choreographer and ballet master for almost 30 years at the Kansas City Ballet, has accepted a position as ballet master with the Sarasota Ballet in Florida.

Jordan is a native of Staunton, Va., and began his training with the Richmond Ballet as a freshman theater major at Virginia Commonwealth University. He later attended the North Carolina School for the Arts, where he was recruited by artistic director Todd Bolender for his first company of dancers in Kansas City.

Jordan was a company member from 1981 to 1987 and has served as ballet master since 1991. In 2000, he earned a bachelor of fine arts in dance at the UMKC Conservatory.

Jordan said the events that led to his decision unfolded rapidly in recent weeks. He was invited to Sarasota to stage a production in March of “Gala Performance” by Anthony Tudor, a British dancer and choreographer ranked as one of the most important figures in 20th century dance. Jordan is one of the choreographers authorized to stage Tudor ballets by the Anthony Tudor Ballet Trust, which licenses his work.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity that really just fell out of the sky,” Jordan said. “I got on the plane with that sole assignment in my head. Who knew I would have a job by the time I left?”

In conversations with Sarasota Ballet director Iain Webb and assistant director Margaret Barbieri, they shared their dreams for the company. As it turned out, they were looking for a ballet master.

“Through those next three weeks there I taught a class or two, gave a seminar on Tudor for patrons, had social contact with the board,” Jordan said. “It sort of organically developed and we noticed that this special chemistry had evolved. So I extended my interest in joining their staff, just kind of throwing it out there. I didn’t realize they were as organized with that goal as they were.”

Jordan will remain in Kansas City through the 2013-14 season, which concludes in May with “Cinderella,” and will return in December to stage Bolender’s “Nutcracker.”

Artistic director Devon Carney said in a statement that it made sense for Jordan to move on to a company with a strong commitment to the works of Anthony Tudor.

“That said, he will be dearly missed,” Carney continued. “While technically the role of the ballet master is to assist with scheduling and the rehearsals for the company, James was so, so much more than that. He truly was the ‘glue’ that held us all together. We wish him the best.”

“I couldn’t have written a better screenplay for this,” Jordan said. “I’ll tie a nice bow around Mr. Bolender’s ‘Nutcracker’ and head for the beach.”

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