I had the opportunity to grab a coffee and chat with the talented Kylie Thompson, a dancer, teacher and choreographer here in Toronto. From our conversation, the main theme that resonated with me was that dance is a reflection of and on life. Dance is about questions and curiosities. Dance is about discovery. Dance is about gaining an understanding of self and place in the world.
Catch Kylie's double-bill featuring her newest work "Thirty-Three/Thirty-Three" this weekend (January 26 and 27, 2018) at the Winchester Street Theatre. Get more info or tickets at http://www.kyliethompson.ca/season-18
Hearing about the creation process of her latest work (which is being presented this weekend), I began to see her own personal growth and learnings overlapping with her artistic exploration. Her newest piece, Thirty-Three/Thirty-Three, started with a journey into the world of numeracy. As she discovered movement through this abstract idea however, her own human experiences emerged as she developed themes of independence and relationships. This aligned with a theme I saw in our discussions on the place of dance and movement in our world: dance allows us to reflect on our own lives and to understand our own experiences. Through this self-reflection, dance allows us to truly grow as artists and as people.
I found in Kylie a drive to constantly improve in order to not only learn more but to share more. She spoke of her goals to travel and gain new experiences not only choreographically and dance-wise, but also in other aspects of her life. Through past works I’ve seen by her, and from taking classes and workshops from her, I have witnessed how much her true-life experiences have seeped into her own philosophies on dance and movement allowing her to share so much not only about creation and movement, but about life in general. In our conversation she also explained that we can do the reverse, and apply what we learn in dance to life.
What really inspired me was the humble way in which Kylie constantly searches for new information and knowledge. She emphasized this saying that “Although I have been studying dance for 25 to 30 years, I still am learning lessons about life through dance. As long as you still have questions, that’s a good thing.” This is something that all of us artists can learn. Although we have strong ideas and need to be confident in our own artistic voice, we need to recognize that there are so many different perspectives that can help us to grow and challenge what we think we know.
On the topic of our own voice however, it is important that we also remain confident in our perspectives. Kylie reminded me that although dance and art is for an audience, it is crucial that we remember to create for ourselves as well. She described dance as being “rebellious” and so I began to reflect on how important it is for artists to break the mould, be innovative and share new, unfamiliar, and sometimes unpopular ideas. It is through this that new questions can be asked and our curiosity can be fed. Taking this further Kylie also described the importance of giving audiences the permission to have an opinion. And so I also see the importance of, as audience members, consuming the art for ourselves. It’s crucial that we accept our own perspectives as being valid and crucial to the sharing of artistic knowledge and interpretation.
It was a great pleasure to have had the chance to learn from Kylie not only through movement but through conversation giving my a glimpse into her insight. If you want to join Kylie in questioning and remaining curious about life through dance and art, make sure to see her upcoming event, Kylie Thompson Dance Season 18’, taking place this weekend. There are performances on Friday, January 26 and Saturday, January 27, 2018 both taking place at 8pm in the Winchester Street Theatre. You can get more information and buy tickets through the link below:
You can also follow her on social media @kyliethompsondance to keep up to date with her explorations!