As artistic director, dancer/choreographer Kat Gurley guides her modern dance troupe Wild Heart wielding a process that flies on pure emotion and movement, viscerally free from being boxed up by ideology and rules. After earning her BFA at the University of Colorado Boulder, Gurley stayed in the area, teaching and performing with the open heart alluded to in the name of her company. Gurley talks about what fires the spontaneous physicality of her work as she tackles the Colorado Creatives questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Kat Gurley: God. I don't mean a god of a specific religion; I mean the creator of all things. Or, more accurately, the space in which all things are created. I know some people have very specific connotations with that word, some good and some bad, but I don't, so I use it. Sometimes I hear clearly and sometimes I don’t, but that's what I am always listening for and to. The great mystery of creation to come through in this moment and whether I hear clearly is another story, but that is my creative impulse: something greater than myself, coming through into this space and time.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party and why?
I would like to invite Oprah Winfrey because I enjoy her, and I would like to be her friend. I would like to invite Eckhart Tolle because his energy is just so amazing, and I would like to just sit next to him in silence. I would like to invite Bon Iver because there is a familiarity there for me. Although he's a musician, I feel we are doing the same thing when we each perform live.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
The best is that everyone in the dance scene knows each other, and the worst is that everyone knows each other. People are generally generous, which is wonderful — willing to share and speak highly of each other, which is not always the case in dance. Because it is a small community, I think people sometimes think that everything and everyone should get supported in equal measure, no matter the caliber or content.
How about globally?
I think the dance world has recently been growing in various ways. I think we have some abusive traditions that are on their way out — i.e., our relationships to our bodies. I also think in some areas of the dance world, we have maintained some essential aspects of the mind, body and spirit connection that are so needed in this current culture. Because each dancing body holds the lineage of our teachers and our ancestors, I think we can retain something essential — that the body doesn't lie. So we hold traditions, memories and an innate knowing a little closer. There is a power and a vulnerability within that that can either be drawn upon or ignored. Globally, I'm drawn to those who hold that knowing close.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
I would like to sit down on Oprah's Supersoul Conversations podcast and talk about the spiritually transformative power of dance. I would like to pay all my dancers and myself a living wage. I would like to have our own studio/small theater. I would like to teach classes and perform around the globe.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I'm from Boston, so Denver has taken me some time to get used to. Not because I don't like it, but more because it's different. I love the fresh air, and I love the spring when it's green. I do miss rain, and how it gives you permission to go inside and rest and feel the pressure of gravity holding you until you release and let go.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I'm not entirely sure. I hope lots of dancing and work that myself and my dancers can really sink their teeth into. I also hope for funding and a renewed interest in the workings of daily life.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I think Allison Blakeney has a lot to say as a dance artist and is finding a voice. Blakeney is currently working with Control Group Productions. I think Tara Rynders is doing good work in the immersive dance theater arena and trying to bridge gaps between live theater as something that is just viewed versus live theater that as an experience can transform lives. I also think Block 1750 in Boulder is killing it with community-building and innovative dance.
Wild Heart Dance’s next original show (details TBA) will be performed on September 27 through 29 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder. Learn more about Kat Gurley and Wild Heart Dance online.
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