Joyce King jpeg

Joyce King (Photo by Jaqi Medlock)

The Brooklyn-based JKDance Company (JKDC) is fervently dedicated to creating a richly textured and deeply emotional landscape of dance, motivating audiences toward territories of the mind and heart. The group is one of the featured companies in the second annual Brooklyn Dance Festival, which will take place Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5 at the Actors Fund Arts Center in downtown Brooklyn.

In the interview below, Artistic Director and Choreographer Joyce King discusses the inspiration for the piece JKDC is performing at the Festival, the lessons she has learned from her dance teachers, her favorite places in Brooklyn, and more.

What piece are you performing at The Brooklyn Dance Festival and what is the idea or inspiration behind it?

First, I want to say that JKDC is excited to have the opportunity to share the stage with all the amazing dance companies taking part in the Brooklyn Dance Festival! It’s very exciting to be part of these performances. The title for our piece is INternal Seize, which will have its world premiere at the Brooklyn Dance Festival. It is an excerpt from a larger piece titled, LISTEn, that will also be having its world premiere on May 11th at The Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC. The inspiration has always been from those that surround me: headlines, memories, art work, books, the need to express an inner feeling, combined with the personalities of my dancers. The initial urge to create for this excerpt hit me after attending an event. That following week, I walked into rehearsal carrying a combination of objects, not really sure what was going to happen next, but recalling what a dear friend, Miranda Saunders, said to me once: “What if you don’t need to have all the answers?” From there our process began.

What is your dance background?

Ballet, Jazz, Modern, alittle African with some of the most amazing teachers: Sue Taylor Michaud, Adrienne Hawkins, Danny Sloan, Lynn Simonson, Michael Owens, Michele Assaf, Fred Benjamin, Richard Levi, Miquel Lopez, Hartford and Boston Ballet. I attended ADF and Jacob’s Pillow on full scholarships many years ago, learning from Mark Morris, Ron Forrella, Bruce Taylor, Chuck Davis and Lynn Simonson.

Who were your mentors, and who are the dancers or choreographers you find inspiring today?

Mentors: Susie Taylor Michaud, my first dance teacher; Adrienne Hawkins, the Artistic Director for Impulse in Boston; Charlie Kakatsakis my first acting teacher; and Michael Owens, jazz teacher. These people still are so influential for me to this day. They were not just “teachers” of a craft or technique, they went beyond that. They cared and encouraged, made me laugh and cry in class and understand that it’s ok to have emotions but not to take yourself too seriously, and to always remember the joy of why you do what you do. For inspiration: my dance company and students keep my creativity flowing. For a particular person: Desmond Richardson. We never have met, but I just find his story, strength and beauty as a person and dancer the pure package of excellence. Also Fred Astaire: his precision and passion that flows through when I watch his movies.

Favorite part of the rehearsal process?

The overall process itself really. When seeing that shift happen from just this “thought” inside my head to when the dancers bring meaning to my steps, breathing life into them. The laughter. Those are precious moments.

Most played songs on your iPod?

My class warm up and combos and definitely the music I am using for the company’s rep.

What are your favorite places in Brooklyn?

Prospect Park, al di la restaurant, Mark Morris Dance Studios, my home in the backyard  in the early morning, Central Library. I still love books and hanging out on the couch with my son and husband watching a movie with homemade popcorn!

Do you have any hobbies or special interests outside of dance?

Laughing! The beach is my favorite place! I love horses and used to horseback ride. Would love to do it again. Gardening and planting flowers. I love fresh basil and tomatoes on a slab of mozzarella! Rock climbing, which scares the crap out of me, but it’s amazing when you beat your fear and get to the top. Spending time with my son and husband, seeing my family and friends.

To learn more about the Brooklyn Dance Festival or to purchase tickets, visit brooklyndancefestival.org. And check out our Facebook page for the latest Festival news, artist interviews, and more.

Interview conducted by Elisa Lichtenbaum. A Senior Writer at Thirteen/WNET New York, Elisa has written articles on subjects ranging from Woody Allen to Downton Abbey. She studies tap dance with Germaine Salsberg.