Todd Bolender, 92; Protege of Balanchine, Former Artistic Director of Kansas City Ballet

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Todd Bolender, 92, a protege of ballet master George Balanchine and the former artistic director of the Kansas City Ballet, died of complications from a stroke Thursday at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Bolender danced professionally from 1936 until 1972. Much of that time was spent with Balanchine’s New York City Ballet and its precursors.

Bolender later held ballet director positions in Cologne and Frankfurt, Germany, before working as a freelance choreographer.

During his long career, he choreographed three dozen of his own ballets. His choreography was performed by most of the world’s major troupes, including the American Ballet Theater, the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo and the Joffrey Ballet.


Born in Canton, Ohio, in 1914, Bolender learned to tap dance and in 1933 moved to New York, where he studied at the School of American Ballet.

His name will grace the new home of the Kansas City Ballet, which is scheduled to open in 2008. The building will be called the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity. He was artistic director of the Kansas City Ballet from 1981 to 1996.