Lily Kind Makes Dance In America – her way!

by Gina Palumbo for The Dance Journal | photo credit: Katrina D’Autrement

On Wednesday, March 24th, I tuned into an Informance with Choreographer Lily Kind, hosted by Terry Fox of the Philadelphia Dance Projects. Within the hour, I learned that Kind’s role as an artist is multifaceted and that she has thoughts and ideas rooted in the close community and the wider world.

Kind has now been on the Philadelphia dance scene for five years, migrating north after an eight-year stint in Baltimore. She said her current challenge with creativity is the lack of live audiences, as her choreography is interactive and craves connection. Like many artists dealing with the isolation of the pandemic during this past year, Kind has come to understand this void cannot be filled virtually.

Kind’s refreshing approach to presenting dance and dance-theater came from necessity. While in Baltimore, she faced difficulties finding funding and used skateparks and other unconventional places instead of theaters. She purchased her own lighting and began producing her own shows, the last resort in a country where resources are not always readily available for dancers. With her gained knowledge, Kind developed a zine over ten years called How to Make Dance in America, an arsenal of ideas aimed to introduce the process of dancemaking as more DIY (do it yourself) and a lot less burning a hole in your pocket.

She went on to press play to share a few of her works virtually. Bolero, a dance made to “the most iconic piece of classical music of all time,” was cheeky yet smooth. This piece perfectly demonstrates Kind’s diverse background with a formal education spanning from American folk dance to hip hop and many more transformative styles.

Kind introduced Sarah Chien, a dancer and fellow DIY-er who produced a small zine called How to Build a Dance Floor. Chien’s rooftop dance floor became a courageous alternative for presenting dance during Covid. When talking about her zine, she explained to us the concept of Minga, a practice she learned while in Ecuador. Minga, by definition, is collaborative work in which friends and neighbors volunteer their time, effort, and sometimes funds to achieve a shared goal for the betterment of the community. This concept readily lends itself to the arts.

Kind spoke on another work that she wanted to last through pregnancies, injuries, and growing old. “I wanted to make a dance to hold space for dancers’ lives to change,” Kind said when reminiscing about wolfthicket. wolfthicket is described as “games of make-believe: hopscotch, hand-patting, tennis, music video, and sunbathing. It is a world of the women(+) who feed it.”

Closing the Informance, Kind took a moment to imagine a world where everyone had the opportunity to experience the arts, regardless of circumstance. After seeing Kind “making dance,” I believe in the possibilities.

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