Ballet director brings contemporary dance styles to Columbia

Friday, February 1, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
Fernando Rodriguez, one of the dancers at the Missouri Contemporary Ballet, stretches while other dancers talk during a break in rehearsal. Rodriguez is one of the dancers at the company that makes up a collective called The Artists.

Karen Mareck Grundy, the executive director of the Missouri Contemporary Ballet, never knows where she will find inspiration.

“Sometimes I can get my ideas by listening to a piece of music and then I have a concept, or maybe I won’t even have a concept,” Grundy said. “Sometimes I’ll have a dream or just come up with some sort of concept that I have to then find music for.”

Some of the music from the ballet’s most recent show came from the film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

The ballet, which performs at 110 Orr St., aims to use live dance to provide "exciting, edgy, hip entertainment," according to its website.

Grundy, who founded the ballet after moving to Columbia from Las Vegas to teach, is responsible both for managing its operation and for inspiring creativity in its dancers. 

She describes her teaching style as a balance of engagement and strictness. “I do require a very hard work ethic, but I also do like to laugh and I like to have a good time."

Ken Braso, a rehearsal director at the company, praised Grundy's versatility. “She can do so many different things,” he said. “She can choreograph in many different styles of dance: your jazz, your ballet, your modern. That’s what makes her special.” 

Grundy is also skilled at designing sets, costumes and lighting, Braso said. Grundy attributes those skills to her experience working behind the scenes on smaller productions in Las Vegas, where she could learn more than in bigger productions.

For her next show, Grundy found inspiration in a classic story. On Jan. 6, the ballet held auditions for a performance of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" that will premiere June 1.

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