Arts & Culture

KC Ballet’s new season goes big with premieres of ‘Carmina Burana’ and ‘Celts’

Kansas City Ballet will perform “Carmina Burana” choreographed by Adam Hougland.
Kansas City Ballet will perform “Carmina Burana” choreographed by Adam Hougland. Kansas City Ballet

The Kansas City Ballet’s recently announced 2019-20 season is big and bold.

It starts off in October with the world premiere of “Carmina Burana” with Carl Orff’s chest-beating score. “The Nutcracker” returns with its holiday magic and so does another Tchaikovsky classic, “Swan Lake.” The season will conclude with an intriguing mix of George Balanchine, Irish dancing and Philip Glass.

“Carmina Burana” is choreographed by Adam Hougland, who has set some really big scores to dance, like Mozart’s Requiem, Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” and the riveting “Rite of Spring.”

“‘Carmina Burana’ is one of my favorite scores,” said Devon Carney, artistic director of the Kansas City Ballet. “It’s a driving, pulsating, powerful score. It screams dance. Adam sees ‘Carmina Burana’ as the journey of a person’s life and the ups and downs that come along with that.”

There are two other new works on the same program: Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Tulips & Lobster,” which had its premiere on a New Dance Partners concert in 2018, and “Petal” by Helen Pickett.

“The Nutcracker” returns next year, of course. Carney’s classic choreography and the multimillion-dollar sets and costumes have made the Kansas City Ballet’s “Nutcracker” more popular than ever.

Carney says that the ballet’s first-ever Sensory-Friendly “Nutcracker” was a hit last year, so the company will again present a special performance for children with sensory sensitivities, autism spectrum disorder or other special needs.

The season will close with the Kansas City premiere of Lila York’s “Celts.”

Lila York’s “Celts,” which Devon Carney calls a “sensation,” will have its Kansas City premiere. Kansas City Ballet

First performed by the Boston Ballet in 1996, the Boston Globe called “Celts” “an astonishing array of dance images of Ireland, a piece that is both profound and thrilling.”

Carney, whose resume includes a long stint with the Boston Ballet, said it is a rousing combination of the classic and the Celtic.

“Lila York was able to bring these two disciplines together and not be patronizing to either,” he explained. “It was an immediate sensation when we first did it at Boston Ballet and it’s traveled the world. It always brings the house down.”

Also on the program is Edward Liang’s “Wunderland,” set to the mesmerizing music of Philip Glass, and George Balanchine’s “Serenade.” First performed in 1934, “Serenade” was the first original ballet created by Balanchine after he moved to America.

“It’s one of his great, transcendent works, and it ends with such an uplifting and ascending feeling,” Carney said.

For more information about season packages, 816-931-8993 or

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“Swan Lake” is scheduled for February. Kansas City Ballet

Adam Hougland’s “Carmina Burana”: Oct. 11-20 at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The program includes “Tulips & Lobster” by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and “Petal” by Helen Pickett

“The Nutcracker”: Nov. 29-Dec. 22 at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre

“Swan Lake”: Feb. 14-23 at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre

New Moves: March 26-29 at the Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, 500 W. Pershing Road

“Celts”: May 8-17 at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre. In addition, the program includes George Balanchine’s “Serenade” with music by Tchaikovsky and Edward Liang’s “Wunderland” with music by Philip Glass.

You can reach Patrick Neas at and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at

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