Photo courtesy of Kristi Faulkner Dance

Kristi Faulkner

By Crystal A. Proxmire

Between Ourselves

Kristi Faulkner is a 28-year-old dancer who grew up in Ohio, got her Master's Degree in New York and has brought her love of dancing to Ferndale so she could be with her partner. She is both a performer and a teacher, who generously spends her Monday nights doing a beginner's level class at Affirmations Community Center. The class explores a variety of styles designed to get people moving and enjoying music and dance. The one-hour class begins at 7 p.m. and there is a $5 suggested donation that benefits the community center.

Faulkner also teaches other classes here in Michigan and in Ohio, including a class at Bowling Green State University. Through her business, Kristi Faulkner Dance, she offers a variety of activities for dancers of all skill levels. She was also one of the strikers for the Hungry 4 Equality Campaign last fall, and the coordinator of a flash mob to promote the hunger strike.

When did you start Kristi Faulkner Dance and why?

I officially began Kristi Faulkner Dance at the beginning of 2012. It has always been my dream to have a professional dance company and I was very excited about building it in the Detroit area. There are so many talented individuals and creative minds in this area that are hungry for opportunity.

Artistically speaking, I began KFD because I had something to say. Growing up Catholic and closeted, I think I trained myself to hide my thoughts and feelings for fear of being "exposed." When I found my choreographic voice and grew to love and accept myself, my desire to create and share intensified. My work is often quite political, pushing the boundaries of gender, sexuality and social issues while challenging conventional ideas of performance.

I established KFD with the intention of making work that generates meaningful conversation and social exchange by working collaboratively with my fellow artists.

When did you become interested in dancing, and what have you been involved in over the years?

I started dancing in my local studio at age 3. I remember coming home from my weekly tap class and performing what I learned on top of the coffee table for whoever would watch. Eventually I graduated to the kitchen floor, which my two younger sisters and I would turn into our own personal stage...bless my parents for caring more about our creative expression than the scrapes and scuff marks on the linoleum!

Theater and dance have always captivated me. I think I get my love of performing from my mom. She introduced me to musical theatre via living room song and dance parties to her record collection - my favorites were "Grease," "Fiddler on the Roof" and the "Singing Nun." I was fortunate to have two of the most wonderfully supportive parents who encouraged my interest. I took class in everything I could - tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, modern, West African - and performed on the dance team, my studio's competition team, my high school glee club and in school and community musicals.

I toyed with pursing a "practical" career when entering college, but two weeks before classes began I switched my major and dove completely into dance and theater. The prospect of relegating my love of movement and performance to a hobby was something I just could not live with. Creating and performing wasn't just something I enjoyed doing, it was something I needed to do.

Does anyone else help with the business we should mention?

I have incredibly dedicated and talented dancers, without whom I would not have a company. My biggest support, however, is my partner. She is my sounding board for both business and creative ideas and the self-proclaimed "biggest fan." As anyone who works in the arts can attest, there are times we are overwhelmed and filled with self-doubt. It is so important to have someone who not only believes in you, but also pushes you to take risks because they see your potential.

Why should people dance?

Why not? Why should people breathe! The gift of movement is so easily taken for granted. On a purely biological level, the increased blood flow and endorphin buzz we get from moving makes you healthier and happier. Dance isn't something that should be relegated to the privileged few. I think that people of all ages and abilities should have the opportunity to experience dance and the freedom that comes from using your body to convey meaning and emotion. While we are alive and able, I believe it is important to celebrate our bodies.

Anything else the BTL readers should know about?

KFD is currently in the thick of rehearsals for my newest work, "Four Letter Word," which is set to premiere this spring. This work looks at gender, sexuality and the sometimes-humorous manifestations of love. I hope to inspire conversation to relieve anxiety people might have about the LGBT population and relationships that society may view as "unconventional."

Follow the development of KFD and stay updated on performances and workshops by connecting through http://www.KristiFaulknerDance.com or on our Kristi Faulkner Dance Facebook page.

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