Path of a Dance Maker

Path of a Dance Maker

By 2011 Guest Choreographer Jolene Konkel

Summer brings many things; sunny days, barbecues, dance festivals, and vacations to name a few…Recently my family and I went on what has become our annual summer trip to Montana and we always make sure that we visit Glacier National Park while we are there. (If you haven’t been there I encourage you to try and get there, it is absolutely breathtaking.) It is a great time to get out of the city, breath really fresh air and take in some of the most beautiful moments of creation. Our kids are young so we keep it pretty simple and take our usual 6 mile (round trip) trek to Avalanche Lake. Once there, three waterfalls cascade down the mountain side and all spill into the lake. This time around we hiked with some people who have never experienced the park, the trail or what was in store for them at the end. Since I have made this journey at least a half a dozen times in my life, it was inspiring to be with those who were experiencing it for the first time as they just eagerly trekked along with anticipation. It reminded me of what it was like the first time I hiked this path back when I was still a teenager actually, and how I wanted to soak up every detail and take in every moment.

When we came back to the city, I found myself reflecting on our trip and as I started my dance making process for this show, I was thinking about how as a dance maker, I am not so different from some of the outdoor explorers at Glacier National Park. We are all exploring, hoping to find something magnificent, inspiring, thought provoking, or beautiful at the end. Some stick with the same path that they know and love and others go off the trail to make a new discoveries. As artists, we all have to find a starting point, a beginning, a path that inspires us and once we feel comfortable on that path, we challenge ourselves to explore new trails, discover new pockets of beauty, uncover new territory. And then there are times after we have ventured out on new paths, pushed some boundaries or maybe even tried out a few paths others have been on before, that it is nice to simply return to that tried and true trail that we fell in love with in the beginning.

For me, that love is jazz dance. It is my first love with dance, it is the road that inspired me to pursue dance as a career, and it is where I feel my soul is alive. This time around in my process I have also found myself returning to the first thing that ignited me as a mover, and that is simply, my love for the music. No gimmick, no angle, no agenda, just movement in its purest form inspired by soaking up every detail of the music (and believe me there is a lot of detail in this music!) and enjoying every moment of the process (editors note: the music is Unsquare Dance and Charles Matthew Hallelujah, both by Dave Brubeck). It is like my hike to Avalanche Lake; I’m not trying to go where no one has gone before, I am simply going somewhere that I know inspires me, but this time I get to take new people along with me for the journey, (some dancers that I am working with for the first time, and hopefully audience members who have never seen my work before) and even still there will always be something new to discover if I am open to seeing the details. As the music motivates me, my desire is that I am creating a work that truly embodies the heartbeat of Rhythmically Speaking and brings people closer to falling in love with jazz dance.

Summer brings many things; sunny days, barbecues, vacations, and now what has been the annual Rhythmically Speaking concert. It is my great privilege to be participating in this event as a dance maker for the second time and it is becoming one of the things I hope we can all count on to put on our summer “to do list” here in Minneapolis.

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