Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Chandra Kuykendall recently started her 20th season with the Company.
“Chandra is one of the few dancers we have who is from Colorado,” said Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs. “How remarkable it has been for
her to have such a successful and sustaining career right here in her hometown. It was a pleasure to promote her to Principal Dancer in 2007 and
to see her growth as an artist during the last 11 years has been extraordinary.”
According to Boggs, having a dancer spend 20 seasons with a single company is relatively rare in the ballet world and it is even more rare for a dancer
to spend the majority of her career in her hometown. “Chandra not only grew up here, she trained at Colorado Ballet Academy,” said Boggs. “Having
one of our Principal Dancers as a graduate of our Academy is a testament to the quality of our instructors and faculty.”
This season, Boggs will highlight Kuykendall as the primary Lucy in Colorado Ballet’s season opener Dracula, opening October 6 at the Ellie
Caulkins Opera House.
About Chandra Kuykendall:
Chandra Kuykendall moved with her parents to Parker, Colorado at the age of two and she started taking ballet at the age of six from a woman who taught
out of her basement near her house. When she was eight, she took classes at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance for one year, then began taking classes
at the Academy of Colorado Ballet in 1988.
“My training at the Academy was pretty ideal, we had a very small class and my teachers were very strict but also very, very loving,” said Kuykendall.
“I was able to perform in The Nutcracker from my very first year in the Academy and I did that throughout all of my training. In the upper
levels, we got to perform more with the Company and this was a really invaluable experience because it taught us what life would be like as a professional
In addition to her training at the Academy, Kuykendall also participated in summer programs with San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet, Kirov
Academy, and the Bolshoi Academy in Vail, CO. She graduated from the Academy of Colorado Ballet in 1997 and joined the Company that season. She
spent the 1998-1999 season with Leipzig Ballet in Leipzig, Germany and returned to Colorado Ballet in the fall of 1999.
“One of my proudest moments of my entire career was being promoted to Principal,” said Kuykendall. “This was in 2007 and it was after a performance,
Gil (Boggs) came on stage to announce it to the Company and I was completely shocked. I had no idea I was going to be promoted and it was really
one of the best moments of my career.”
According to Kuykendall, being a Principal dancer is a big responsibility. Principals not only need great technique, but they must have the ability
to connect with the audience and carry a ballet. She said that she also feels that it is equally important to set an example for the entire Company.
When asked about what audiences may not know about Kuykendall, she said that she is a mom to a seven year old son. “Sometimes it is hard balancing
motherhood and being a Principal dancer because they both take a lot of your time and love,” said Kuykendall. “But, my family is very understanding
of my career and I can separate the two and give ballet my attention when I’m here at the studio and I can give my son attention when I’m home
with him. I feel like he helps me be a better dancer and dancing helps me be a better mom.”
During her 20-season career in Denver, she has seen the ballet world in Denver change significantly. She said that when she first came to the school,
the Company was very small and there were only a few well-known companies in the city. Kuykendall said that now, Colorado Ballet has grown and
there are many more companies and opportunities to see classical and contemporary ballet in Denver. Audiences have more exposure to dance and she
said that makes them more excited to see ballet. “I feel like Colorado Ballet is such a strong company, we have strong dancers, we have a strong
staff to support us,” said Kuykendall. “I have never had any desire to leave, I’m so fulfilled artistically here. The ballets we get to dance and
the roles I’ve gotten to dance are really wonderful.”
She has danced many principal roles during her career at Colorado Ballet. Some of her favorite include Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Giselle
and Petite Mort, which the Company did during Ballet MasterWorks in February 2017. She said that was a bucket list ballet for
her, but said there are still ballets that she would like to dance.
For Kuykendall, it is impossible to sum up the last 20 years at Colorado Ballet. The Company has been her home and her coworkers have been like family.
“I have met so many amazing, amazing people, teachers, coaches, choreographers,” said Kuykendall. “My partners have all been so wonderful supporting
me on and off stage. I have met friends that I will have for a lifetime. I have so many beautiful memories inside these studios and it’s just really
hard to explain how these years have affected me and how much love I have for this place.”
Looking toward the future, she said she would like to continue doing what she is doing as long as her body holds up and she remains inspired and motivated.
Because of her love for the art, she knows that when she decides to retire, she will do something in the ballet world.
“For as long as I can remember, ballet has defined me,” said Kuykendall. “It’s been what I do, what I love, it’s who I am. I am a ballerina and as
artists we are creating art, but we are also are the art, so every day we’re growing and learning and changing and evolving and this is really
a beautiful thing to experience and I feel like the audience can see this. They can see on stage this human aspect to it, and it really connects
them to us and makes them feel like they’re really a part of the experience while they are watching the performance.”
Chandra Kuykendall and Domenico Luciano in Swan Lake by Francisco Estevez Photography
Colorado Ballet will open the 2017/2018 season with the crowd-favorite Dracula, October 6-15, 2017 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with
choreography by Michael Pink and music by Philip Feeney performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.
“Dracula continues to be one of our most popular productions because it features a beloved, spine-tingling story with seductive vampires,
frightening mental patients and the king of the undead himself, Count Dracula,” said Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs. “The story is
easy to follow, the sets are grand, the costumes are lavish and the music is enthralling. These elements coupled with Pink’s sensual choreography
makes audiences feel like they are part of the action. I encourage you to stock up on garlic and sink your teeth into this ballet full of terrifying
Based on Bram Stoker’s Gothic romantic horror, Dracula tells the story of Jonathan Harker, who travels to Transylvania to do business with
the infamous Count Dracula. During his visit, Harker is driven mad by the Count and his vampires and returns home. Dracula becomes enamored with
Harker’s fiancée Mina and he travels to England to pursue her. As soon as he arrives in England, Dracula seduces Mina’s friend Lucy and he changes
her into one of the undead. Dr. Van Helsing and Lucy’s suitors fail to capture Dracula, which enables him to capture Mina. The men follow Dracula
into a crypt to stop him. Only daylight and a stake through his heart can stop him from taking Mina as his own.
Performance dates and times: Friday, October 6, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 7, 2017 at 2 p.m.
Saturday, October 7, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 2 p.m.
Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, October 13, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 2 p.m.
Dracula contains mature content and is not recommended for children ages 12 or younger. The total run time is 2 hours and 24 minutes, which
includes two 20 minute intermissions.
Ticket prices range from $30 to $155. To purchase tickets, visit www.coloradoballet.org or call 303-837-8888
Colorado Ballet’s Attitude on Santa Fe production will feature four ballets choreographed and performed by Colorado Ballet dancers on September
8 and 9 in the Black Box Theater at the Armstrong Center for Dance, 1075 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO.
The September 8 Attitude will feature the performance and the September 9 Attitude will include a catered dinner with a three course
meal and wine prior to the performance. Principal Dancers Domenico Luciano and Yosvani Ramos and Corps de Ballet Dancers Arianna Ciccarelli and
Kevin Hale will choreograph works for the September Attitude on Santa Fe.
“We are now in our third season of Attitude on Santa Fe productions in our Black Box Theater,” said Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil
Boggs. “Every single Attitude performance has sold out and our audiences have enjoyed new or restaged works created and performed by our
extremely talented dancers. We are thrilled to give our dancers the opportunity to present their own works because it encourages creativity and
showcases emerging choreographers. Plus, it gives our dancers additional opportunities to perform in an intimate setting with patrons who want
to see new and innovative works.”
About the ballets:
Domenico Luciano's new untitled ballet features a soundtrack by Michael Jones, who is rearranging a classical piece, Andante by Dmitri Shostakovich,
with added sound effects and a five minute soundscape tailored to Luciano's choreography. The 10 minute work features five dancers and will explore
the equality of gender. Luciano said that this ballet will be very different from the previous two pieces he has choreographed for Attitude on Santa Fe.
According to Luciano, "Male and female dancers will be dressed the same, dance the same phrase, have the same movement vocabulary, and most likely
partner same gender in a duet. This will be very contemporary movement, low to the ground, abstract, not really focusing on lines and aesthetic
but enhancing the physicality of the dancers."
Yosvani Ramos created his ballet Steps in the Night in 2000 for the English National Ballet's Choreographic Workshop. The ballet will feature
five female dancers and two male dancers to the first two movements of Beethoven's 7th Symphony. "I have always wanted to do
the whole 7th Symphony, which is in four movements, so the year after in 2001, I choreographed the second moment," said Ramos.
"It's neoclassical with strong classical language and a lot of off-the-leg partnering and lifts. It has a sexy feeling to it."
Arianna Ciccarelli's new ballet is a contemporary piece called What Could Have Been; An Unfinished Symphony. Ciccarelli said that she wanted
to step out of her comfort zone and explore a different side of dance by choreographing a contemporary work first time. The ballet features two
pieces of music: one is a four minute piano piece composed by Wesley Harper, a friend of Ciccarelli's; the second and last piece of music is Knee Play 4 composed
by Philip Glass. "Even though there is no formal story line, I think that we all find/use a part of our lives to relate to the movement," said
Ciccarelli. "I am very excited to share my experience of choreographing with my co-workers and of course with the audience!"
Kevin Hale’s new untitled work features eight dancers and is set to the music of Radiohead from their album “A Moon Shaped Pool.” According to Hale,
“the ballet centers around a robot that is turned on for the first time and is learning everything quickly.” The robot quickly realizes more about
life than it should. “When dropped with all the other robots, they start to have feelings and subsequently their glitches start to appear,” said
The doors will open at 7 p.m. on September 8 and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m. On September 9, cocktails begin at 5 p.m., dinner begins at 6
p.m. and the performance starts at 7:30 p.m. The cost for the September 8 performance is $30 and the cost for the September 9 dinner and performance
is $85. Seating is limited. To register, visit www.coloradoballet.org/events.
Colorado Ballet plans to host another Attitude on Santa Fe with different works in February 2018.
Colorado Ballet seeks schools to participate in the school assembly show From the Page to the Stage for shows in October-November 2017 and January
From the Page to the Stage features Colorado Ballet Studio Company dancers performing excerpts from ballets based on folk tales and literary
classics while taking students through the timeline of ballet in school cafeterias, gymnasiums and theaters. This season, Colorado Ballet will
feature new From the Page to the Stage productions, with the option for an elementary school show or a middle/high school show. In addition,
the productions will feature a brief excerpt from one of Colorado Ballet’s 2017-2018 productions: Dracula, The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet.
After the brief show, members of Colorado Ballet’s education staff will discuss a variety of ballet-themed topics including how stories are translated
into dance, a brief history of ballet, frequently asked questions about pointe shoes, male roles in dance and more. The assembly will conclude
with a question and answer session with dancers from students and teachers in the audience.
After retiring from Colorado Ballet at the end of the 2016-2017 season, former Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Maria Mosina will now take on the role
of choreographing the excerpts and working with the Studio Company dancers for the assemblies.
Colorado Ballet has presented assembly shows in schools throughout Colorado for more than 20 years. Schools interested in booking a show for the 2017-2018
school year should contact Colorado Ballet’s Education and Community Engagement department at (303) 339-1619. Spots are limited.
Individuals also have the opportunity to sponsor the program for a school. “My granddaughter Emma started taking lessons at Colorado Ballet's Academy
when she was three years old, said Karen Bruggenthies. “Sponsoring an assembly program at my grandchildren's school gave Emma and I a chance to
share our love of ballet at its highest level with all of her schoolmates. The students at Rick's Center loved the program! I have always believed
firmly in the many benefits children receive through exposure to the arts. I also believe that one of the greatest joys in life is being able to
share something you love with another person. Imagine how much more wonderful when you are able share it with hundreds of children at one time!
Colorado Ballet's school assembly program is an opportunity to do just that.”
For more information on sponsoring a show for a school or group, contact Colorado Ballet’s Education and Community Engagement department at (303) 339-1619.
From the Page to the Stage performance with Colorado Ballet Studio Company dancers