Kevin Kaiser, One of Five Brothers in Dance, is Thinking Big for the Evergreen City Ballet: BOLD DREAMS FOR RENTON DANCE COMPANY
Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - by Patti Payne Contributing Writer
Remember the movie "Billy Elliot," about a talented young boy whose life was all about dance? Kevin Kaiser, the new artistic director of Evergreen City Ballet (ECB) in Renton, could be the adult version of that famous young man, with four brothers all involved in the ballet world. Think Billy Elliot times five.
Roy Kaiser is artistic director with the Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia. Ken Kaiser is artistic director with the Washington Contemporary Ballet in Tacoma, while Dan Kaiser holds that lofty position with the Delaware Regional Ballet. Russell Kaiser is a ballet master with the New York City Ballet.
Growing up in Federal Way, the boys started tap dancing when each turned 4 years old. "It was easier for our mother to drive us all to the same place," says Kevin Kaiser.
The boys got so good at tap, they signed on with "The Singing Angels" from Cleveland, and went on tour to places like Disneyland, Hollywood Bowl and other tourist spots in the country.
Their dance teacher eventually steered them to ballet. "Once we got over the tights, we really enjoyed it," Kaiser says, "and the rest is history.
He danced as a soloist with Pacific Northwest Ballet for 14 years under Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, and went on to Oregon Ballet Theater to become its associate artistic director.
Among his credits, Kaiser appeared in the 1986 movie "Nutcracker, The Motion Picture," performed with Wayne Newton when Newton was a dancer, and made the cover of Dance Magazine.
Returning to the Seattle area, he became a mortgage banker and taught ballet at ECB a few times a week.
Now as head of that dance company, he is calling on illustrious colleagues and relatives all over the country to help him elevate ECB to a new level of excellence and discipline. "I've put together a (six-week) summer program second to none," he says, with pride.
Gathering a world-class faculty, Kaiser has tapped former PNB principal dancer and colleague Patricia Barker, James Canfield with Nevada Dance Theater in Las Vegas, Kaiser's brother Roy from Pennsylvania Ballet, artistic director Donald Byrd with Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater and choreographer for "The Color Purple" on Broadway, and Alison Epsom, ballroom dance teacher who danced in a Harry Potter movie.
Classes start June 23, with more than 100 young people signed up this summer, from 9 to 22 years old.
"We'll offer everything from tap to ballet to ballroom to pointe to modern dance. And this fall we open ballroom classes to adults," he says, pointing to the strong positive influence of ABC's hit "Dancing with the Stars."
So far the response is gratifying. "We've doubled our revenue from prior years. We're pretty much close to capacity for summer." There are a few openings left, most of them for the workshops for very young students.
Kaiser says what ECB offers is unique. "We will give our students a well-rounded dance education, even teaching them how to interview for dance jobs, learning the ability to work with professional choreographers. We'll put together their dance résumés, pictures and DVDs, and give them performance experience on stage where artistic directors could see them in action. This is a dream of mine. Something I've wanted to do for a long time."
Yes, Billy Elliot is alive and well.