The cast of a tulip unfolding

Samantha Bennett, Dance, A Tulip Unfolding

Samantha Bennett

Bennett holds a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance from Stephen's College. Born and raised in Olathe, KS, she began her dance training at the age of seven at the Studio School of Dance. When there, she trained under Elizabeth Hartwell, Deborah Carr, Carol Estey, Karen Grundy, Diane Coburn Bruning. At Stephen's she performed scenes from Fokine’s Firebird and Petipa’s Swan Lake. In the summer of 2013, her choreography was chosen for the Summer Dance Concert at Stephen’s College. She was a performing member of Störling Dance Theater’s Artist Development Program, Rehearsal Assistant for Störling and was cast in their production, Underground.  Bennett appreciates the way in which dance breaks down barriers and creates wonderful bonds of friendship with amazing people.  

Branson Bice, A Tulip Unfolding, Parkinson's, Suzanne Ryanstrati, Dancer, Kansas City

Branson Bice

Bice is a national touring artist in American In Paris with Big League Productions. He was a company member of the Minnesota Ballet company and with Ballet Quad Cities. He performed in works with the Kansas City Ballet, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Williams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, Storling Dance Theater, and Dramatic Truth Ballet Company. He holds a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he was on scholarship and studied Classical Ballet, Modern, Contemporary and Choreography. He started dancing at the age of began thirteen at The Culture House Performing Arts Academy, where he received extensive training in dance, theatre, classical mime, stunts and combat, voice and music. 

Nora Burkitt, dance, A Tulip Unfolding

Nora Burkitt

Burkitt is a member of the KC Contemporary Dance company in Kansas City, Missouri. She holds a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, training under Mary Pat Henry, Gary Abbott, DeeAnna Heitt and Tobin James.  She trained at the Kansas City Ballet, studying under Ballet Mistress Karen Brown, Kimberly Cowen, Lisa Thorn Vinzant, Tamara Sanders, and Master Hyuk-ku Kwon. Former Artistic Director, William Whittener cast Burkitt in Todd Bolender's Nutcracker with the Kansas City Ballet. She attended summer intensive programs at the Alvin Ailey school and the Kansas City Ballet. Burkitt also teaches to students of all abilities as the Adaptive Dance Coordinator and lower school teacher for the Kansas City Ballet.

John Currey

Currey holds a Master's degree in Percussion Performance from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition to his directing duties with the Caribbean Heart Steel Pan Band, Echoes of Africa Drum Ensemble, Marimba Sol de Chiapas Mexican Marimba Group, and as Facilitator for the WWM Drum Circles. Currey was an Original Cast Member for KC Union Station’s Sticks of Thunder, is Percussionist for the Kansas City Brassworks, the Flamenco dance and music ensemble: Flamenco de los Barrios, is a member of the Tri-Percussion group, he plays drums/percussion for the Steve Gray Band featuring Shannon Lipps on vocals, and, in Broken String -- a guitar and percussion trio putting a delightfully fresh twist on the fusion of Latin Jazz, Flamenco, the Pat Metheny songbook, and more.

DaJuan Lashan Johnson, Dance, A Tulip Unfolding

DaJuan Lashan Johnson

Johnson, a St. Louis native, is a dance major at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he trains in ballet and modern dance (Graham and Horton).  He has performed in Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company's On Cyprus Avenue, in the Kansas City Ballet's Nutcracker, and Störling Dance Theater's Underground.  His advanced rhythm tap solo was recently featured at Hello Art! in Kansas City.  In 2015,  Johnson attended a summer intensive at the Kansas City Ballet and Alanzo King Lines Ballet.  

Katarina Fitzpatrick, Dance, A Tulip Unfolding, Ryanstrati

Katarina Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick is a member of the Kansas City Contemporary Dance company. She graduated from Mercyhurst University with dual majors in dance (with a choreography concentration) and anthropology/archaeology (with a sociocultural anthropology concentration). She is a Certified Scott Pilates instructor. A Kansas City, Missouri native, she trained at the Kansas City Ballet School where she was a member of the Kansas City Youth Ballet. James Jordan and Ballet Mistress Karen Brown cast Fitzpatrick in Todd Bolender's Nutcracker with the Kansas City Ballet. She has performed works choreographed by Lew Christensen,  Jennifer Owen, José Limón, Neta Pulvermacher, Melissa Bobick, Solveig Santillano, Mark Santillano, and Noelle Partusch. Fitzpatrick's choreographic works premiered at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.  She has attended summer intensive programs at Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, The Ailey School, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. She is currently a company member of Kacico Dance, a contemporary dance company based in Kansas City, and is a guest teacher at the National Parkinson's Foundation.  In 2016 she had her Kansas City choreographic premiere, Feet to the Fire, in collaboration with choreographer Rachel Gnatowski. Fitzpatrick's work was called, "inventive, clever, and delightful" by KC Metropolis.

Hezekiah Lasater, Dance, A Tulip Unfolding, Ryanstrati, Parkinson's

Hezekiah Lasater

Lasater has been dancing for nine years. He started at the Dance Arts Center in 2009 with a hip-hop class. He then dove into tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, modern (Horton) and tumbling. Four years later he started competing in dance and received the Teen Mr. Dance 2013 Award for chapter 28.  Driven by the desire to focus on extensive ballet training, he studied at the Kansas City Ballet School, where he was on full scholarship. He was a member of the Kansas City Youth Ballet and trained under Devon Carney, David Justin, and Dmitry Trubchanov. He has attended summer intensive promgrams at the American Ballet Theater and Kansas City Ballet.  In Since 2013 he has been cast in multiple productions of the Kansas City Ballet including Todd Bolender and Devon Carney's Nutcracker and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's West Side Story.

Grace Lewis, Dance, A Tulip Unfolding, Ryanstrati

Grace Lewis

Lewis is a certified Pilates instructor, with training in both Stott Pilates and the DK Body Pilates through UNLV.  She is is persuing a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Lewis started her dance training under Jane Pierce, director of the Somerset Ballet Centre. Later she trained at the Kansas City Ballet School under Lisa Thorn Vinzant, Peter Pawlyshyn, Sean Deus, Christine Colby-Jaques and Ballet Mistress Karen Brown.  She was a member of the Kansas City Youth Ballet, under the former direction of Alecia Good-Boresow. Lewis performed in Todd Bolender's Nutcracker and George Balanchine's Serenade with the Kansas City Ballet, and in the Trey McIntyre Projects' Wild Sweet Love.  Ryanstrati invited her to perform in The Disappeared in City in Motion's Modern Night at the Folly, depicting the use of dance as protest in Chile. Lewis has attended summer intensive programs at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Lewis is teaching assistant for Adaptive Dance classes at the Kansas City Ballet School. 

Virginia Smith, Dance, A Tulip Unfolding, Parkinson's, Ryanstrati

Christopher Justin Peacock

Peacock is the Arts Director at Kansas City's Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. He was born in Thomaston, Georgia and raised in Kansas City, Missouri.  He began his formal training with Tyrone Aiken, Executive Director of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey where he studied ballet, modern and jazz.  He continued his study of ballet at the Kansas City Ballet and trained with Sean Duus.  His love for dance led him to continue his training with Rodni Williams, Dance Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

Peacock, a graduate of Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Speech Communication.  Shortly after graduation, he decided to pursue a professional dance career and began to travel to New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Las Angeles, Seattle, Denver to further cultivate his skill and passion of dance. Since then he has performed with professional companies including Storling Dance Theater's  Little Match Girl, Underground, Men of Sorrows, Suspended Grace,  JanjaraUnchainedAve Verum  Premiere Ballet of Kansas City's The NutcrackerMidsummer Night’s DreamIn Transit Owen Cox Dance Group's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Dramatic Truth's The MasqueradeI Surrender All,  Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey's Setting the Stage, Imago Dei's Unmerited FavorSchool House RockYou’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and Blame it on the Movies.

Virginia Smith, Dance, A Tulip Unfolding, Parkinson's, Ryanstrati

Virginia Smith

Smith graduated from the University of Missouri, Kansas City in the Conservatory of Dance and Music. She started at Academy of the Arts in 2004 where she was on the competition dance team for 5 years and has won top 10 awards for solos and production numbers, which allowed her to compete in national competitions. Desiring extensive training in ballet, she attended the Kansas City Ballet School where she was a member of the Kansas City Youth Ballet.  Smith performed in both Todd Bolender and Devon Carney's Nutcrackers for five years with the Kansas City Ballet.  Recently she was granted a walk-on role in Swan Lake. Her training included master teachers such as Devon Carney, Dmitry Trubchanov, Grace Holmes, Jennifer Owen, Lisa Thorn Vinzant,Maximilien Baud, Lisa Donmall-Reeve, Gabriela Garcia, and Emily Bufferd. She has attended summer intensives with the Kansas City Ballet and the Joffery Jazz and Contemporary Intensive in New York City. Virginia started dancing professionally at the age of 17.