Monkeyhouse LOVES ChoreoFest and we are thrilled to be so involved with this year's festival. Karen will be returning as "Choreographic Guru" this year. Here's the first half of our interview with Karen about what it means to mentor other choreographers.
ChoreoFest takes place Friday/Saturday September 9/10! Get more information and your tickets to this year's ChoreoFest concerts here!
kK: I just want to be able to offer another set of eyes and ears for the choreographers. Having participated as a choreographer in Choreofest, I understand how overwhelming the process can be and know that sometimes all a person needs is a friendly voice to say, "This looks amazing." My early experiences as a pee wee cheerleader in Nashville and Atlanta are great assets over the course of the night. However, if somebody needs more, I am happy to help sort through tangled up moments too. I think it is important, however to respect the each choreographer's creative process and not to impose my own onto them.
N: What is a "choreographic guru"?
kK: I like to think of the choreographic guru as being a mentor at large for the event. Someone who can remind you of tools/ideas/resources that people may forget about when they get stuck at 4 AM. Part of the reason that we put guru in the title was to make things less serious sounding...more playful. Trust me, I know how hard it can be to ask for help on a creation when it is in those early stages.
N: Is there a way that choreographers can prepare themselves and you for a productive mentoring moment?
kK: Yes, ask direct questions rather than "What do you think?" or "Do you like it?" If someone comes to me and says, " Do you think that this section is too scattered and people will not know where to focus their attention?" then it is really easy to give feedback. Just be prepared for me to ask questions in response like "Where do you want them to focus?" or " Do you want the focus to become clearer as the section evolves?" rather than a yes or no answer. Frankly, it does not matter whether I like it. What is most important to me is whether the choreographer is articulately expressing her own ideas.
kK: I have been really fortunate to have found many wonderful mentors in my life several of whom have since passed away. Can you imagine what quagmires I would still be stuck in without them? More importantly, my mentors did not try to mold me to be like them or to create the same way that they did. They nudged, cajoled, and sometimes kicked my toukas but they let me discover my own voice, own weird way of wrestling with ideas. Passing on their ways of guiding people and sharing their advice is my way of keeping their legacy alive.