WILD HEART CHARTS ITS OWN COURSE
Kat Gurley, Artistic Director at Wild Heart Dance, is here to create work that moves people. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Kat moved to Colorado to study dance at the University of Colorado and earn her BFA. She went back to the East Coast following graduation, but returned to the Front Range five years ago. Since then she has been shaking up the Colorado dance scene with an unapologetic physicality and an innovative business approach.
Kat’s varied background plays to her strengths. She is classically trained in ballet, jazz, and modern dance but also draws choreographic inspiration from hip hop, West African dance, yoga, and even martial arts. She’s drawn to the athleticism of dance and embraces the effort involved in creating and executing a challenging piece. She is an artist who feeds off the audience’s energy and prefers them near her as she moves. Her recent piece The Beloved was so close to the audience that the dancers’ circle skirts brushed guests as they moved throughout the space, blurring the line between performer and audience.
When Kat came back to the Colorado dance scene, she wanted to create something that excited and inspired her, and to do it in an environment that celebrates innovation and risk-taking rather than quash it. She found this in Wild Heart Dance, but competition for funding was fierce and Kat wanted to be able to explore her art without constraints. So she turned to her audience. Believing she had something that patrons would respond to, Kat began crowdsourcing her shows and asking her followers to fund her performances. They started small, sharing ideas and work as they were creating it, and found success. Kat was obviously tapping into something in the Colorado dance scene: People were willing to financially support her so she could continue to create her art.
Determined to show that you didn’t have to fall into the two categories of recreational dance or a large, well-known company to get financial support, Kat continues to work towards building her audience base, one donor at a time. Now, she and Wild Heart Dance are getting ready to launch work through Patreon, a crowdsourcing platform that allows patrons to make monthly, recurring gifts for art they believe in.
This kind of innovative revenue stream allows Kat an incredible amount of artistic freedom and means that she can begin creating work and then look for funding, instead of the other way around. This means her work is timely, relevant and meaningful in the moment. “People respond to what we do,” she says. And respond they have. Her previous work with composer Kendall Perry (The Beloved) was such a success that they immediately began working together on another upcoming show. By crowdsourcing the funding, Kat is able to follow where her inspiration takes her, and through that process create work that is refreshing, innovative, and challenging to her audience in ways they couldn’t even imagine.
Erika Weiss: Originally from central Illinois, Erika graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Sociology and a graduate degree in Educational Policy. In 2012, she was named a United Way Emerging Community Leader and in 2013, she made the leap to Denver where she is currently the Senior Manager of Educational Programming with the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus.
The opportunity to combine her love of writing and her passion for the Denver dance community was too good to pass up and she’s excited to bring her unique perspective, sense of humor and enthusiasm for this amazing community to the forefront.