Kristi Faulkner is the artistic director of Kristi Faulkner Dance whose collaboration with the Ruth Ellis Center on the performance, Not In My House, is featured in a recent episode of Detroit Performs. Detroit Performs reached out to Faulkner to get her take on empowering people through her projects, why Not In My House is such an important performance piece for our community, and to talk about some other collaborations Faulkner is up to including one with Detroit Performs featured organization, Matrix Theater Company.
Detroit Performs: How has Not In My House been received by audiences?
Kristi Faulkner: This project has had such a positive impact and generated some really great conversations around LGBTQ identity and acceptance for this community. Most strikingly, following the opening night performance, I had an extremely moving conversation with a family who came to see the show from Grand Rapids, MI with their non binary teenager. For them, the opportunity to see LGBTQ identity represented in such a positive and affirming way was nearly indescribable and filled with emotion and they expressed the intention of bringing us out to their side of the state to share this work with their community. Our goal throughout this project has been to use the work as a vehicle for engaging people in dialogue about LGBTQ identity and to give families of LGBTQ people tools to have fruitful discussions about acceptance and we are accomplishing that. It’s been wonderful to hear feedback from audiences about the impact of seeing their identities represented onstage and how issues raised by the work have made them think more deeply about how their words and actions affect others.
DP: How do you try to continuously empower those around you? Why are you so passionate about this?
KF: I subscribe to the feminist belief that the personal is political and the political is personal – that by shining a light on the issues that impact me in a personal way, I can positively impact the world. My work primarily speaks to women and the LGBTQ community and I actively seek to engage these groups in my projects. I have a democratic approach to the creative process and the body as a site of expression. I believe in respecting and honoring the individual, drawing upon their unique strengths and experiences rather than requiring them to fit into a predetermined mold. I do not believe in treating the body as an instrument, but as a social force. I am interested in what people can do with their bodies – not just in the sense of physical prowess, but how they can serve as agents of social and political change. In order to accomplish that goal, I think it is essential for people to feel empowered and a huge part of that is providing people with support and space to be vulnerable and to take risks. In doing so, people become more confident, invested, and capable of connecting their own experiences to relate to the work and to others. For me, that’s what making art is all about – empowering people to connect.
DP: Where will Not In My House perform next?
KF: We are setting up tour dates for Not In My House and would love to visit your community! Dates and venues will be announced soon on our website, but currently we are planning stops around the state, the Midwest, and in Windsor. Community engagement is essential to us, so in addition to performances, we plan to host workshops and audience discussions to aid folks in connecting with the work. To discuss bringing Not In My House, our workshops, and activities to your community, connect with us at Kristi@KristiFaulknerDance.com.
We are also underway editing a documentary about the process behind Not In My House. In addition to a look behind-the-scenes at the creative process, the film explores how dance has been integral in shaping and defining the identities of many LGBTQ youth in Detroit. This work is important to me on a personal level, but I also believe it has the potential to affect real change in how we view/treat the LGBTQ community. You can stay updated on our progress and the film’s release by following @KristiFaulknerDance on Instagram, liking us on Facebook, and subscribing to our email list on KristiFaulknerDance.com.
DP: With what other dance companies do you work?
KF: While being the director of Kristi Faulkner Dance is my main focus, I very much enjoy working with other artists on a variety of projects. I’ve been commissioned to set work on students at several universities and have worked collaboratively with a number of local artists in a variety of disciplines. I enjoy branching out from the dance community to work with folks in experimental theater, film, spoken word, and other disciplines because it opens the door of possibilities for expression. Most recently, I’ve teamed up with Kaitlyn Valor Bourque to work as the choreographer/movement consultant on a play called “The Interference” by Lynda Radley which will be performed at Matrix Theater Company March 22 – April 21, 2019.
You can check out Detroit Perform’s segment on Kristi Faulkner and Not In My House here: https://youtu.be/xPgDTymK2H0