Presenting The Kansas City Canaries Dancers…

Amanda Canaries - Headshot Amanda Bernice Director, Founder, & Choreographer

Amanda Bernice grew up involved in a number of dance genres. In 2009, she began her training in Jazz Era Dances. Surrounded by live jazz being produced and performed in her hometown of Kansas City, it was hard to get away from the sounds of the 1930s & 1940s jazz rhythm. Amanda quickly found her way into the swing dance community and began to further explore this vintage dance form.

Discovering she loved the competitive side of the dance, she began competing and earned a number of titles; she won titles at Heartland Swing Championships, Boston Tea Party, and Jitterbug Jamborama. Early on, Amanda also began volunteering at a number of these events and eventually began organizing her own events in Kansas City.

Amanda specializes in lindy hop and vintage vernacular jazz dance. She also teaches charleston and balboa. She bases her teaching style on full body movement and frame matching, while emphasizing individual style. Amanda is known for her bubbly and fun personality in the classroom and out. With her love of the “Swing Era”, Amanda has gone on to become the founder of 627 Stomp and The Kansas City Canaries, companies specializing in “Swing Era” dances.

Shannon Burke - Canaries Headshot Shannon Burke Co - Choreographer & Social Media Strategist

Shannon Burke has been dancing since she was just a little girl. Starting with tap and ballet at age 3, she then started Irish dance at age 9 and fell in love. She has performed Irish dance at events such as the Kansas City Irish Fest, the Kansas City and Brookside St. Patrick’s Day parades, and the Kauffman Center Future Stages Festival. After 10 years of competing and performing Irish dance, she retired from dancing due to injuries (or so she thought.)

When she started at the University of Kansas, she discovered swing dancing and was immediately obsessed. It was a match made in heaven–after falling in love with the 1920’s in middle school, learning to swing dance fulfilled a long-standing dream. She’s currently the social media manager, co-choreographer, and performer with the Kansas City Canaries. She also dances with the Kansas City Nighthawks and teaches with 627 Stomp. She looks forward to spreading her love of the 1920s and passion for performing with everyone she meets.

Nikki Spencer - Canaries Headshot Nikki Spencer Health Coordinator

Nikki Spencer (Geneva Irene) has been dancing since the age of seven, and was on The Wynn Twins School of Dance competing dance team from the age of fourteen until she graduated high school. She performed many different styles of dance such as ballet, tap, jazz, modern/abstract, lyrical, hip hop, contemporary, and some irish. After this, she went to Missouri Valley College and majored in dance where she learned more in depth about choreography, laban method, pedagogy, and community dance. In her freshman year of college, she was on dance team for a year where she performed pom/jazz routines for the football and basketball team. Afterwards, she joined the dance company and picked up aerial silks, ballroom, and advanced her knowledge of ballet, tap, jazz, modern and hip hop. She is currently the wellness coach for the Kansas City Canaries.She currently takes drop in classes at the Kansas City Ballet, Quixotic Cirque Nouveau, and Dance Fit Flow to improve her ballet, jazz technique and heels skills. Her goal is to challenge herself in her solo routines, step outside of her comfort zone,and challenge herself on and off the stage.

“Dance enables you to find yourself and lose yourself at the same time.” -Peter Townsend

Emily Barnes - Canaries Headshot Emily Barnes Back-End Assistant Manager

Emily Barnes) dance experience started as many girls with ballet and tap classes. Vivian spent her teen years dancing on school dance teams and regularly taking contemporary classes. She matched with her school’s majorette line and brings experience with kick lines. After having stepped away from dance for many years and 3 beautiful children later. Vivian returns, delving into the store of a chorus girl and learning more about traditional jazz dance. The more she learns about the history of the Canaries, the more excited she gets to bring jazz and swing to the Kansas City scene. Vivian also acts as the Operations Manager, helping organize the back end of performances

Sarah Saunders - Canary Headshot Sarah Saunders Chorus Dancer

Sarah started dancing when she was four years old with ballet, tap, and jazz. She stuck with tap and jazz until she was ten years old when sports got ahold of her. All through middle and high school sports was her life! Along with the occasional watching So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars. These shows as well as Broadway Musicals caused a spark in Sarah to start dancing again.

Ballroom or partner dancing is what caught her eye in Springfield, Mo. While in college Sarah took up the flirty and sassy dance of Salsa as a hobby! Latin became a whole new world for Sarah! While watching an East Coast Swing/Lindy Hop demo at a studio party one night Sarah was mesmerized by the dance and music and decided to take it up next. For the last two years Sarah has taken classes, workshops, weekend Lindy events and assisted teaching Lindy Hop and now living her golden age of hollywood dancer dreams!

Moving from home in the 417 to big city life in the 816 has opened a new door of opportunities. She is working to incorporate Latin, Tap, Blues and Hip-Hop into her Swing and Solo Vernacular Jazz dancing. What started as a hobby quickly grew into a passion she wishes to share the joy it brings to others.

“You dance Joy. You dance Love. You dance Dreams.” ~Gene Kelly~

Maria - Canary Headshot Maria Rangel Chorus Dancer

Maria’s interest in dance started in high school as an active performer in musical theatre. That interest continued throughout college, taking some jazz classes and working with a local theatre company in her hometown. In 2011, she was exposed to a local swing dance night and ran with it- taking lessons in the Chicago suburbs and soaking up as much as she could, catering to East Coast and Charleston before delving into Lindy Hop.

Since then, she has continued to pursue vintage jazz styles after moving to Kansas City, taking part in a variety of ways, including being a part of the original Canaries team! Maria strives to learn as much as possible to grow and develop more as a dancer, and is incredibly excited to be a part of the Canaries once again.

Katie - Canary Headshot Katie Walkley Chorus Dancer

Katie Walkley (Sassy Siren) discovered swing dancing at Truman State University when friends in the dorm were looking for something fun to do on Wednesday nights. She began taking lessons in 2012 and has kept her dancing shoes close ever since. Her passion for it grew and she started traveling to conferences to expand her knowledge of the different genres and styles. Katie developed a deep love of blues and balboa along the way, preferably danced after midnight with a drink in hand.

Katie moved back to Kansas City post college, drawn in by the incredible live jazz scene (and the BBQ of course). She can’t envision living anywhere else. Katie is known for her sassy attitude on the dance floor and specializes in lindy hop, blues, and balboa. She enjoys a good solo jazz or west coast dance every now and again as well. Katie is inspired by big band music, local Kansas City jazz, and of course, showtunes. She has always had a taste for performing and is proud to dance with the lovely and talented Kansas City Canaries!

Grace Canary - Headshot Grace Eason Chorus Dancer

Grace Eason is thrilled to join the Kansas City Canaries! They started in ballet at a young age at the Lawrence Arts Center, and grew up on a healthy diet of golden-era hollywood musicals. In elementary school, they discovered a passion for modern dance and performing in musical theater. Due to time constraints and schedule conflicts they stopped dancing in high school, and thought that performance was behind them - until college when they wandered into a swing dance lesson and lightning struck. All that love of dance, and an early childhood crush on Gene Kelly, culminated in a passion for the style.

They currently specialize in Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, Partnered Charleston, and Country Two-Step. Adding Solo Jazz, Solo Charleston, and Chorus Girl styles through the Canaries is a dream come true! Currently Grace is a full-time student at the University of Kansas majoring in Psychology, with minors in Sociology and Visual Art. They also work as an administrator at the Lawrence Arts Center, welcoming others into the dance program they fell in love with all those years ago.