K.J. Bittenbender is an artist, storyteller, writer, illustrator, ballet director, choreographer and instructor. During her professional career as a ballerina, K.J. performed such notable principal roles as Raymonda, Lise in La Fille Mal Gardee, the evil step-mother in Cinderella, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Effie in La Sylphide, Caraboss, the Lilac Fairy and Bluebird in Sleeping Beauty, the wicked queen in Snow White and Rose Red, Sugar Plum Fairy amongst other roles in The Nutcracker.
The former co-owner and artistic director of Bittenbender Dance and Music Academy, K.J. produced live stories onstage for years. As the founder and artistic director of the Mesquite Repertory Ballet Company and Storybook Ballet Theatre, she choreographed and staged numerous ballets such as The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Cinderella, Snow White and Rose Red, La Sylphide, The Stone Flower, Carmina Burana, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Carnival of the Animals, Degas and the Little Dancer, Peter and the Wolf and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to name a few.
Kristi has been training and coaching ballerinas for over 26 years. Her dancers have not only been accepted but have received scholarships to attend nationally recognized schools across the U.S. including San Francisco Ballet, The Kirov Academy of Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Inland Pacific Ballet, Houston Ballet, Julliard School of Ballet, Ballet Magnificat!, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, Alonzo King Lines, Ballet Austin and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
In addition, she has also worked as a freelance choreographer for both theatre and dance companies earning various awards and recognitions such as Outstanding Choreography Award at the 2014 Classical Ballet Festival (Afro Cuban Lullaby), Best of Show 2000 for Mesquite Community Theatre(Oklahoma), the 1998 Fine Arts Award at the State Fair of Texas (Caribbean Lullaby, Grease and A Chorus Line) as well as a featured performance act at the State Fair of Texas in 2007 (Peter and the Wolf).
K.J. has been sharing a love of fairytales for over twenty-seven years on paper as well as onstage. As the creator of the Curtsey Crew Series, K.J. has produced multiple ballets from her series onstage such as The Little Circus Clown Ballerina, The Little Sailor Girl Ballerina and finally The Tale of the Farmgirl Ballerina. For more info on K.J.’s storybook ballets you can visit her website at http://www.KJBittenbender.com.