photograph by Heidi Anderson, Legacy Livestock

Ballet Midwest is dedicated to preserving unparalleled access in our community to some of the world’s most treasured ballets through performances, interactive outreach opportunities, and a standard of dance education that encourages excellence.

Our goal is to preserve the beauty of this great art form for future generations while nurturing character development in our dancers and instilling a lifelong love of the arts among our audience.

About Ballet Midwest

Founded in 1977, Topeka’s Ballet Midwest originated to bring the art of classical ballet to Topeka and surrounding communities through education and performance opportunities. The company grew over the years and now presents two full-length classical ballets in addition to other community performances annually. The company is joined by a host of local auxiliary dancers to present a full-length, festive Nutcracker Ballet each December. Ballet Midwest’s spring repertory includes Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Firebird, La Fille Mal Gardee, Don Quixote, and Billy the Kid.

For the first forty years, Ballet Midwest maintained the same artistic direction under Barbara Ebert until she retired in 2017. In 2014, the company welcomed artistic co-director, Lacee Sandgren, who now serves as the sole artistic director. As a non-profit repertory dance company, Ballet Midwest is strictly professional in training, standards, and goals. Ballet Midwest is committed to providing first-class performance opportunities for area dancers, advanced training for the serious dance student, and a chance for each dancer to achieve self-confidence and growth according to his or her own capacity.

Company dancers are selected for technical ability and performing talent by open audition. The Junior Company was created to help develop junior high age dancers for the next level of dance performance. Total commitment of all dancers in the corps de ballet is an essential part of the professional dance discipline found at Ballet Midwest.

Ballet Midwest promotes ongoing education with guest choreographers and the Artist-in-Residence program. Master classes in dance, nutrition, stage make-up and hair, and conditioning are offered to the community. Dancers are encouraged to attend summer ballet intensives across the nation. Scholarships are available to area dancers who show potential and financial need.

Our Mission 

Ballet Midwest Inc. is a civic ballet company committed to providing quality classical ballet to Topeka and Northeast Kansas since 1977. Ballet Midwest is dedicated to presenting unparalleled access to some of the world’s most treasured ballets through performances, interactive outreach opportunities, and a standard of dance education that encourages excellence. Our goal is to preserve the beauty of this great art form for future generations while nurturing character development in our dancers and instilling a lifelong love of the arts among our audience.

Ballet Midwest promotes ongoing education with guest choreographers and an Artist-in-Residence program.  Master classes in dance, make-up, nutrition, and dramatic skill are offered to the community.

Dancers are strongly encouraged to attend summer sessions of the country’s foremost ballet company schools. Our dancers have attended summer intensives through Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, Ballet Magnificat, Ballet West, Boston Ballet, Dallas Ballet, Denver Ballet, Feld Ballet, Houston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Rock School of Dance, San Antonio Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet.

Lecture-Demonstrations

In addition to the Company’s main performances for the general public, Ballet Midwest has presented over 850 lecture-demonstrations to church, school, and civic groups since the founding of the Company in the spring of 1977.  Ballet Midwest is also available for touring programs on a regional basis.

Ballet Midwest is proud to partner with area organizations to promote the arts, education, and leadership development in our community such as Wildly Creative: Arts with the Animals at the Topeka Zoo. Ballet Midwest provides a free Nutcracker performance for area 4th grade students and tours at interested schools.

Interested groups should contact Lacee Sandgren, Artistic Director of Ballet Midwest at 785-272-5991 at least three weeks in advance for bookings. 

2022-23 Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Lacee Sandgren, Artistic Director & Artistic Committee Chair

Randi McCurry, President

Angie Marichal, Vice President

Melissa Butler, Treasurer

Ashley Anderson, Secretary

Jamie Sandgren, Fundraising

Kathy Woods, Marketing

Board Members At Large

Stephanie Barry

Ashley Charest       

Kathy Duncan

Barbara  Ebert, Director Emeritus

Kim Patton

Renae Skryzpek

Company Representatives

Kennedy Beals

Ellie Ericson

Beatrice Reilly

Company Auditions

Ballet Midwest will hold open auditions for company dancers on Sunday, January 15, 2023. For those considering auditioning, please note the audition requirements below. Dancers from any studio are invited to audition. Please keep January 22 open, as dancers selected for Company will have a required meeting that afternoon or evening.

COMPANY AUDITION SCHEDULE 2023

**Please plan to arrive 20-25 minutes early to check-in. Please have all forms completed online prior to arrival. (See buttons below.)

2:00 – 3:00   Current Apprentice Division Dancers AND New Female Dancers who have a minimum of 1 full year on pointe and meet at least one of the following criteria: be in 8th grade or older, be at least 14 years of age, OR danced as a flower in Ballet Midwest’s recent production of the Nutcracker.

3:00-4:15     Current Soloists and Corps de Ballet Division Dancers

4:15-5:45     Current Principal and Alumni Division Dancers

5:45-6:30     New and Returning Men’s Division Dancers

COMPANY AUDITION REQUIREMENTS

Male dancers must be in 8th grade or age 14 and older by the date of the spring ballet performance.

Female dancers must have at least one full year of experience on pointe in addition to meeting ONE of the following criteria: (1) currently be in 8th grade or older, (2) be 14-16 years old, or (3) perform as a flower in Ballet Midwest’s most recent performance of The Nutcracker.  Female dancers 16 and older must have at least two full years of experience on pointe.

All dancers must take ballet class at least twice a week.

Auditions are held at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance, the host studio for Ballet Midwest.  The audition fee is $10 for any returning Company dancers and $15 for any dancers new to Ballet Midwest Company level (including any Junior Company dancers auditioning to move up to Company).

Dancers who are accepted into the company have the opportunity to be cast in Ballet Midwest’s spring ballet. 

Junior Company Auditions

Junior Company auditions will be held on Saturday, February 4, 2023.  Anyone who wishes to audition for Ballet Midwest’s Junior Company must have a parent/guardian attend a mandatory informational meeting prior to auditions, date and details TBA).

For those considering auditioning, please note the audition requirements below.  Dancers from any studio are welcome to audition.

 The Junior Company is for intermediate male and female dancers in 5th grade or 11 years and older (by the date of the spring ballet). Female dancers do not have to be on pointe to be part of the Junior Company.  Dancers must take ballet class twice a week. There is a $10 audition fee for any returning Junior Company dancers and $15 for any dancers new to Junior Company. 

JUNIOR COMPANY AUDITION SCHEDULE 2023

**Please plan to arrive 20-25 minutes early to check in. Be sure to have all audition forms completed online prior to arrival.

2:00-3:00   Dancers in 7th grade or age 13 and older

3:15-4:15   Dancers 11-12 years or 5th-6th grade.

Nutcracker and Swan Lake photographs by Mark Weber, Wicher’s Photography