Inside Columbia


Columbia Native Builds Profession From Passion

By Inside Columbia

Photos by L.G. Patterson

It’s not often that a dream comes from an early injury. But that’s exactly what happened with Kendall Lademann, who broke her femur at age 3 and started dancing as a form of physical therapy. “We weren’t really sure if it would stick, but it did and I just fell in love with it,” Lademann says.

While Lademann was born in Columbia, she spent most of her childhood in North Carolina before moving back to the area in 2015 for high school. “I prefer Columbia, because my family is here,” she says. But when things took a turn in 2020 and the world began to shut down due to the pandemic, Lademann took the opportunity to advance her professional career in Columbia after attending the University of Missouri Kansas City for one year.

“I talked to Karen Mareck Grundy (artistic/executive director for Mareck Center for Dance) about taking classes with the company, and then fell in love with the style and really enjoyed doing contemporary work more than I thought I would,” Lademann says. The love for contemporary dance came as a bit of a surprise for Lademann since “for most of my training, I always said I wanted to be a classical ballet dancer.”

The Mareck Center for Dance, formerly known as the Missouri Contemporary Ballet, launched in 2006 and was founded by Grundy. The multi-level operation located in the Balsamo Warehouse on Orr Street not only offers classes, but has a professional company with opportunities for apprenticeships and training, along with outreach programs and the ability to get involved with the nonprofit side.

That’s how Lademann got involved, starting as a trainee before transitioning to an apprentice, then an associate performer who quickly was promoted to the full company. Lademann then took on the responsibility of DanceAbility coordinator. DanceAbility gives dancers with different abilities, ages 4 and up, an opportunity to learn and explore the world of dance. “It’s honestly one of my favorite parts of my job,” she says. “They are all just fantastic and just really excited to be in the studio and get to perform.”

Kendall Lademann

While Lademann loves running DanceAbility, performing is still her passion. In June, Lademann got to live her dream as the lead in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” saying the process was something she really enjoyed, from the rehearsals to the performance itself.

And this wasn’t Lademann’s first rodeo with that particular story either. It was her third performance in the show in her lifetime, but her first as a professional and the lead. “Last time I was in the show, I played a lobster, so to go from a lobster to now leading the show is really cool,” she says. “Being 21 and already getting to perform as Alice is huge to me.”

While working on a show like “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is something she really enjoys, it also comes with many challenges. Dancers must not only focus on the choreography but the acting as well. “I am very much introverted, so I really have to work on not doing small acting in the studio because then it won’t be where it needs to be on stage,” she says. “I like to focus more on the technicality of all the dancing so then to have to think about my face is an added difficulty.”

Lademann says the mental aspect of dancing is the most difficult to overcome; in fact, it’s still something she works on in her professional career. “It’s just as much a mental game as it is a physical game, because there are certain steps or sequences that I struggle with and are a mental hurdle,” she says. But Lademann says Grundy is very aware of the mental hurdles and works with company members to find solutions to be successful.

In addition to local and regional performances, the professional company of Mareck Dance has performed on tour nationally and internationally, and hosts Dancing with Missouri Stars every year, where Mareck dancers are paired with local celebrities in a mid-Missouri edition of the popular TV show. “It’s really fun,” Lademann says. “I hope to dance it next year.”

As for the future, Lademann says she hopes to continue to grow as a dancer, performer and teacher. “I love being here and have already had some incredible opportunities as a dancer with the company,” she says. “I can’t wait to see where it goes.”

For more information on Mareck Center for Dance, to make a donation, sign up for a class or see what performances are coming up, visit

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