Lilliana Hagerman stepped into the spotlight in 2016, dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Kansas City Ballet's Nutcracker during her first season as a full company member. But it's her chameleon-like ability to shift between classical and contemporary roles—such as her featured performances in Matthew Neenan's The Uneven and Stanton Welch's Play last season—which make this dancer so special.
Born in Italy to a military family, Hagerman trained in jazz, ballet and contemporary before joining Orlando Ballet as a trainee and then as a main company member. She was accepted into KCB's second company in 2014 after auditioning with her then-boyfriend (now husband) Lamin Pereira dos Santos. "Thankfully, we both got jobs," she says.
Hagerman with Dillon Malinski and Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye in Helen Pickett's "Petal." Photo by Brett Pruit & East Market Studios, Courtesy KCB.
KCB is unranked, so it's not unheard of for newer dancers to perform principal roles. But dancing Sugar Plum in her first year, and Tinkerbell the following season, in artistic director Devon Carney's Peter Pan, is notable in a company with plenty of veterans. Even as an apprentice, Hagerman was awarded a featured role in Helen Pickett's Petal, which she points to as a significant launchpad for her KCB career.
Carney says Hagerman is "quite driven and very talented." As KCB presents an increasingly contemporary repertoire, we are likely to see more of this versatile dancer.