Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Travel

July 18, 2012

Kansas City overflows with things to do and see

Spectacularly unlimited. I’d like that to be me, but in the meantime I’m content it seems to be so for a heartland-of-America city.

Kansas City. Western edge of Missouri. And all of a sudden a mecca of performances in stunning architecture, neighborhoods and entertainment districts with distinct personalities, celebrity chefs, seemingly boundless funding and philanthropy.

Kansas City supports symphony, opera and ballet. Professional musicians, dancers, singers.

Go soon to experience their sparkling new performance hall. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts: stunning white arches soaring into the skyline, visible from many downtown angles. $413 million is the figure mentioned.

Sweeping views inside the lobby connecting two performance halls: it’s all glass, supported with enormous cables.

This building is architectural reason enough to make the trip.

Ewing and Muriel Kauffman bought the Kansas City Royals in 1967; their daughter Julia Irene Kauffman says this of her family’s philanthropy. “I liken the Center for Performing Arts to my father’s description of baseball: a game of intellect that explodes with drama and excitement.

“My mother compared baseball fielding skills to the agility and grace of a dance.”

Jump start dance performances with a daytime visit to the handsome building where the 25-member professional Kansas City Ballet rehearses and teaches.

They just moved into a 1914 coal plant known as the Power House, feeding Union Station and much of the city into the 1970s.

“We replaced one kind of power with another,” Ballet Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley told me.

Used to be a coal, steam, electricity generator. Now, music, dance and soaring spirits are the energies, Bentley chuckles, walking around the three-story, seven-studio space.

Satin pointe shoes in the coal bin? Right; it’s now the dressing room. Take a tour to appreciate the spaces created with this massive renovation.

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