Review | New Dance Partners celebrates 5 years with four world premieres

New Dance Partners, the collaborative effort between the Carlsen Center and some of the area’s best dance ensembles, has yielded much fruit in its five years.

Besides the obvious benefit of Kansas City’s dance companies learning from one another and working together, the program has resulted in 17 new works of choreography.

But perhaps the best thing about New Dance Partners are the actual performances of these works.

New Dance Partners will present the Kansas City Ballet, Owen/Cox Dance Group, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance and Störling Dance in four world premieres Sept. 21 and 22 at Yardley Hall.

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Review | Kansas City New Dance Partners puts local dance front and center

KANSAS CTY, MO — Kansas City New Dance Partners is an initiative launched in 2013 at Johnson County Community College (JCCC), located in the sprawling suburbs on the Kansas side of the two cities who share the same name. The goal of New Dance Partners is to elevate the local dance scene and bring it to the attention of students, as well as Kansans reluctant to venture downtown. Each year, a select group of local (and sometimes regional) dance companies are paired with reputable choreographers from across the county to create new works, and Friday’s showcase at the magnificent Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts treated members of the Dance/USA national service organization to a version of the initiative as the main stage event of its annual conference. It’s important for mid-size cities to host companies on tour from the coasts or Europe to seek inspiration, but — similar to Dance St. Louis’ New Dance Horizons initiative on the other side of Missouri — New Dance Partners invests in Kansas City’s home companies to bring out their best and raise the bar locally. The high caliber of the project’s choreographic commissions serve another purpose, too: projecting Kansas City’s profile outward and affording this small but robust community a megaphone to say, “Hey! There’s good dance here!” So it is likely that Dance/USA conference goers were surprised by the New Dance Partners showcase, which only goes toward proving its purpose for this city’s growing dance scene.

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Review | 25th anniversary season concert features world premieres, repertoire favorites

Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, marking 2 1/2 decades dedicated to creating and presenting exemplary modern dance that addresses social justice issues and examines human interactions. The performance Saturday in the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s White Recital Hall included world premiere works as well as highlights from the company’s repertoire.
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KC’s Top Contemporary Dance Company Celebrates 25 Years of American Choreography

It all started over lunch, during a festival in Vancouver, B.C., where Mary Pat Henry and Leni Wylliams were discussing their favorite dancers and choreographers. She was a dance teacher from South Carolina and he a rising star in the New York dance scene, but the two discovered they had remarkably complementary visions of dance and its history. Both were nationally respected dancer-choreographers who had worked with major companies, but in the coming years they would embark on building a new company that would change the face of dance in the Midwest.