A look back on the Fourth Annual Future Stages Festival

Future Stages 2017 dancers

Future Stages Festival 2017 dancers perform in Muriel Kauffman Theatre. Photo by Cody Boston.

On Sunday, June 25th, the Kauffman Center’s Fourth Annual Future Stages Festival showcased more than 800 youth artists performing on the stages in Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Helzberg Hall and on Saint Luke’s Outdoor Stage, constructed specifically for this festival. Nearly 5,000 guests attended the free event that welcomed the entire community.

“We are committed to providing young artists opportunities to perform and engage year-round at the Kauffman Center. Future Stages Festival offers young artists the experience of performing at a venue that national and international performers share,” said Kauffman Center President and CEO Paul Schofer. “Opening the Kauffman Center’s doors to visitors of all ages, Future Stages Festival invites all to experience the diversity of the performing arts and shine the spotlight on the talented young performers that are in our community.”

This year, the Kauffman Center saw the return of many performing groups from previous Future Stages Festivals, including: Lily Zhang Taylor Academy of Dance, 5 Star Jazz Band, AileyCamp’s Group, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s Team Shakespeare, and many more. These Future Stages veterans continue to grace the stages at the event much to the delight of the community. However, the fourth installment of this festival put emphasis on welcoming new performance groups to the stages with more than a third of the groups performing at Future Stages Festival for the first time; Harmony Project KC, United Dance Performers, and Grupo Axé Capoeira were among the fresh faces at this year’s event. Regardless of past experience at the festival, each group performed excellently and certainly deserved to perform on those stages.

“Most of my Harmony Project KC students come from Northeast Kansas City, an inner-city underserved neighborhood. As my students were going down the stairs to the backstage area, one of the boys said: ‘Wow, this place is so cool.’ They were not expecting to be treated like ‘real performers,'” said Carmen Eppright, Program Manager for Harmony Project KC. “They knew that was the hall where the symphony plays at, and they were so proud they got to play there too. They were beaming. Experiences like Future Stages go a long way towards building their self-esteem, confidence, team work, and love for music.”

When attendees weren’t dazzled by Kansas City’s young performers, they milled about the Kauffman Center taking part in a wide array of arts activities and engagements. Some of the activities featured in Brandmeyer Great Hall and outside on the south lawn included cardboard city construction, coloring on the Kauffman Center glass, a stage combat workshop, and an instrument petting zoo. The efforts from community organizations like AIA Kansas City, Drum Safari, Mattie Rhodes Center, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and many other partners were met with delight from guests of all ages.

Click here to view a full list of all the performance groups and community partners who were a part of the fourth annual Future Stages Festival.

Photos from this event can be viewed on the Kauffman Center’s Flickr page.

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