December 1, 2023

Nutcracker Ball

Join us for the 56th annual gala!

Friday, December 1, 2023
The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center

Celebrate the holiday season at Kansas City Ballet Guild’s annual gala, the Nutcracker Ball. The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, a partner organization of Kansas City Ballet, will provide a delightful setting for the Ball, along with delicious cuisine, special presentations by Kansas City Ballet School Students, and after-dinner dancing with music by local band Kokomo.

Proceeds from the Nutcracker Ball provide essential support for our Kansas City Ballet, a nationally recognized company. Your gift enables our dancers to perform classical and contemporary ballets by gifted national and international choreographers.

Have questions? Contact Jo Anne Dondlinger.

Ball Honorary Chairmen
Susan Lordi Marker and Dennis Marker

Ball Chairman
Jo Anne Dondlinger


Become a Benefactor Today!

Benefactor levels start at $750 and go up to $65,000. Please download this form to see all levels and benefits.

As a Nutcracker Ball benefactor, you are also invited to enjoy a fabulous cocktail party at The American Restaurant on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.

All Ball benefactor levels will receive recognition in the Ball invitation and program book as well as in Kansas City Ballet program books and website.

Benefactor levels of $5,000 and greater also receive membership benefits for The Bolender Society with exclusive invitations to special events.

The benefactor level may include corporate matching funds.

Benefactor Sponsorships

2023 Nutcracker Ball Chairman Jo Anne Dondlinger pictured with Kansas City Ballet Guild President Cyndi James. Photo by Strauss Peyton Portrait Studio.

2023 Nutcracker Ball Honorary Chairmen

The Kansas City Ballet Guild is proud to present Susan Lordi Marker and Dennis Marker as the 2023 Nutcracker Ball Honorees. The Markers have been season subscribers since friends introduced them to Kansas City Ballet about 20 years ago. Dennis is a retired financial advisor, and Susan is a textile artist and sculptor. Susan finds great inspiration for her art through dance.

“One of my favorite KCB moments,” says Susan, “happened years ago. I saw Lark Ascending. It just sent chills. I realized then that ballet has so much power!” Susan is the artist behind the Willow Tree brand of figurative sculpture. It has become the family business with Dennis, their daughter Sara, son David and Susan’s sister Karen all involved.

Susan was on Kansas City Ballet’s Board of Directors for nine years, serving as chair of The Bolender Society for four years. Dennis served on the campaign committee for the Bolender Center. Together, Susan and Dennis have established two endowment funds to support KC Ballet. The first was created in 2012 to fund special initiatives in costuming. The second endowment was established during the Ballet’s Moving Into the Future Campaign to support excellence in choreography.

Thank you to Susan and Dennis for supporting Kansas City Ballet and the community!

2023 Nutcracker Ball Honorary Chairmen Dennis Marker and Susan Lordi Marker. Photo by Strauss Peyton Portrait Studio.

Benefactor Levels

For More Information

Contact Ball Chairmen Jo Anne Dondlinger at 816.381.6942 or

Presented by Kansas City Ballet Guild

The Kansas City Ballet Guild was formed in 1961 by a group of KCB dancers’ parents to promote interest in and provide financial assistance to the company. Since then, the Guild has been integral to the success of the professional, world-class Kansas City Ballet. More than 170 members strong, these men and women enjoy special educational programming, exclusive access to company dancers, and have a lot of fun! Their activities also raise significant necessary funds for the company’s repertory, its community and educational programs, and the KCB archives.

Learn More

Kansas City Ballet Board of Directors Chairman Julia Irene Kauffman, 2021 Ball Co-Chairman Karen Yungmeyer, Kansas City Ballet Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley, and 2021 Nutcracker Ball Co-Chairman Tempe Ostergren Elsberry.

Pirouette Award

The Kansas City Ballet Guild proudly presents the Annual Pirouette Award to a person or persons who have contributed extraordinary amounts of time, talent, and energy in a voluntary capacity to benefit the Kansas City Ballet and the performing arts community.

1983 R. Crosby Kemper, Jr
1984 Richard Harriman
1985 Patricia McIlrath
1986 Jeannette Nichols
1987 James Costin
1988 Russell Patterson
1989 Paul H. Henson
1990 Todd Bolender
1991 Jay McShann
1992 George E. Powell, Jr.
1993 Muriel I. Kauffman
1994 Mr. & Mrs. Henry W. Bloch
1995 Hallmark Cards, Inc.

1996 Patricia Judd
1997 Anonymous
1998 Estelle Ellis
1999 Valentine Radford
2000 Mr. & Mrs. Donald Sanders
2001 Julia Irene Kauffman
2002 Mr. & Mrs. Landon Rowland
2003 DeVette Ashley
2004 J. Scott Francis
2005 Mr. and Mrs. W. Anthony Feiock
2006 Rick Poccia / M&I Bank
2007 Vicki Baxter

2009 Shirley Helzberg
2010 Dr. and Mrs. Michael D. Frost
2011 Mr. William H. Dunn, Sr.
2012 Sally Wood (in memoriam)
2013 G. Mark Sappington
2014 James Jordon
2015 Barbara Storm
2016 Lisa Merrill Hickok
2017 Elizabeth Hard Simms
2018 Frank Byrne
2019 Sue Ann Fagerberg
2020 Bank of America
2021 Dr. John D. Hunkeler
2022 Barbara Nash

Nutcracker Ball 2022

The Kansas City Ballet Guild’s 55th annual fundraiser gala was held on December 3rd at The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center. Angela and John Walker served as the co-chairmen. Barbara and Greg Storm served as the honorary chairmen.

Melissa Ford, Guild President, and Jeffrey J. Bentley, Kansas City Ballet Executive Director, presented the annual Pirouette Award to Barbara Nash. The Guild also recognized Mr. Bentley’s contributions in his 25th and final season as the Ballet’s Executive Director.

In addition to a cocktail reception, dinner and dancing, benefactors and guests enjoyed a beautiful thank you video from Kansas City Ballet company dancers, academy students, and community engagement program students, as well as a video collage of recent Kansas City Ballet performances.

Photography by Kenny Johnson