Tyrone Aiken, Chief Artistic Officer for Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey is a Choreographer, teacher, dancer, and arts administrator. He is a graduate of the Ailey School’s Certificate Program in 1983. Tyrone began his professional dance career with the Cleo Parker Dance Ensemble in Tyrone’s choreographic credits include “Summerland” commissioned by Dance Theater of Harlem’s Virginia Johnson. In Kansas City Tyrone has choreographed for The Lyric Opera, The Coterie Theater, The KC Symphony, Wylliams/Henry Dance Theatre, KC Ballet, the KC Rep and the Nelson Atkins Museum. Tyrone created AileyCamp the Group in 1995, Setting the Stage in 1997 and a second AileyCamp serving Kansas in 2000. He successfully launched KCFAA’s move to the Jazz District in 2007 and lead KCFAA through a strategic plan with Michael Kaiser creating a new Symposium series. It is through that series that Tyrone reaffirmed his commitment to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in the arts and our society.
Tyrone received a Pinnacle Award for Arts excellence from the Johnson County Library, Neighborhood Hero Award from Bank of America, the Robert A. and Dr. Phyllis Bernstein Humanitarian Award from the Jewish Family and Children Services and traveled to the White House to accept the Coming Up Taller award presented to KCFAA for AileyCamp. Tyrone is a member of the African American Artist Collective of Kansas City Missouri, Kansas City Municipal Arts Commissioner and a 2020 graduate with an MFA in Dance from Hollins University. This is Tyrone’s 27th year with Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.
Damron Russel Armstrong
Founder/Executive Artistic Director
Damron Russel Armstrong is a Director, Actor who spent his formative years in Kansas City. He has worked on most of the stages Kansas City has to offer. He’s been a familiar fixture at the Unicorn, The Coterie, Theatre of Young America, The American Heartland, The Living Room, Chestnut Fine Arts, New Theatre and Kansas City Actors Theatre. After graduating from Ruskin High School, Damron sought to further his education in New York City. From there he received the best education of life, the practical application of that knowledge, working on the professional stage. He’s performed nationally in Raisin in the Sun – Gutherie Theatre, MN, The Full Monty – The Palace, NH, and Children of Eden – PaperMill Playhouse, NJ just to name a few With sixteen shows and four seasons soon to be under his belt, Damron is excited about the future of the Kansas City theatre scene and The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City.
Kennedy Banks was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She began her training at Russell Talbert Dance Studio in 2010. In 2017, she graduated from The Chicago High School for The Arts, performing works from faculty and guest choreographers such as Irma Ruiz and Terrance Marling. Banks recently received her BFA in Performance and Choreography, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she has performed original works created by Gary Abbott, Cleo Parker Robinson, and Kevin Iega Jeff. Banks has choreographed multiple works in collaboration with composers Isaiah Collier and Angel Bat Dawid and recently premiered her latest work, The Distortion of Reality in the Mark DeGarmo Festival. Banks is an Instructor with Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and a co-founder and active member of The Chicago Black Artist Union.
Courtney Collado is a professional dancer, choreographer, and Master Pilates instructor from New York City. After training at the Colorado Ballet (Denver, CO), Boston Ballet, Walnut Hill School for the Arts (Natick, MA), Contra Costa Ballet (Walnut Creek, CA), Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (Denver, CO) and Jacob’s Pillow (Lee, MA) she earned her BFA in Dance from New York University in 2001. Ms. Collado has danced professionally with companies in New York City, Denver CO, Topeka KS, and currently resides in Kansas City, MO. She operates a small corrective movement practice within the medical practice Health Studio KC and is earning her MFA in Dance Performance via Hollins University’s low-residency program, spending summers dancing in Roanoke, Virginia and Berlin, Germany. In January 2020, Courtney completed a course of study in pedagogy at the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland with Naomi Perlov, Director of the Maslool – Bikurey Ha’Itim in Tel Aviv, Israel. Ms. Collado is thrilled to take the stage with KCFAA again.
José Faus is a visual artist, writer, performer, and independent teacher/mentor with an interest in the role of artists as catalysts for community building. He is a founder of the Latino Writers Collective and sits on the boards of DSKC, The Latino Writers Collective, and Charlotte Street Foundation. His writing appears in various anthologies and journals and his chapbook This Town Like That was released by Spartan Press. His second book of poetry The Life and Times of Jose Calderon was published by West 39 Press.
Marcus Johnson (Chicago, IL) was introduced to dance through the dance ministry at New Life Covenant Church Southeast. He later began his formal training at Hubbard Street Dance and Deeply Rooted dance Theater where he received his most influential training under the tutelage of Nicole Clarke-Springer, and Jessica Miller-Tomlinson. He has performed with companies including Deeply Rooted Dance Theater; Hubbard Street Dance; and The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and has danced in popular musicals in Chicago including Testimony (Mahdi Theater Co.), and Black Nativity (Congo Square Theater Co.). Mr. Johnson is currently a Junior at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri Kansas City.