With sweet music and graceful ballet filling up the Beth Wortley Studio, Hockaday Dance Department hosted guest artist Kevin Jenkins to guide the master-class dancers and to stage the upcoming performance at the Spring Dance Concert and the 2019 ISAS Fine Arts Festival.
An award-winning choreographer and current faculty member of the Boston Ballet School, Jenkins shared his unique experience of exploring and pursuing choreography as his career with The Fourcast.
Q. What made you pursue choreography and dance as a career?
A. I actually started dancing when I was in college. I’ve been taking some gymnastics classes just for fun as a PE and credit requirement, and I injured my wrist really badly. So I needed another stretch in the morning, something to wake me up, and I just took Jazz and fall in love with it. I think I found choreography because I loved dancing, but at a certain point, I stopped liking the performing part. I didn’t like being on stage as much anymore, and so being behind the scene was much more interesting. I love the creative side of it, it was sort of like the most complex math problem you could’ve imagined, and I love that challenge.
Q. What’s the biggest difficulty you ever encountered in pursuing choreography?
A. I think the most difficult thing is the emotional challenge of overcoming your own fears to try things that might feel a little bit crazy. To be willing to do something all the time is really scary, and it’s very vulnerable too-overcoming the all those fears and all those roadblocks to really just make it happen and to not give in to all the doubt.
Q. You introduce yourself as an artist, choreographer and a teacher. How do these roles work together to make you who you are today?
A. I think the artist is the overall umbrella category. I think dance teachers and choreographers are obviously artists. As for artists, this category just applies to anyone who’s in a creative pursuit, which is definitely what I’m doing. When I choreograph, it’s usually very artistic and I live completely in that creative realm when I’m doing that. Teaching is different because I’m analyzing the students’ ability, trying to push them further and cultivating the artistry in them. That’s also artistic but in a very different way.
Q. Is this your first time giving lessons at an all girl’s high school?
A. I’ve never done this before. A lot of the schools and studios are mostly girls so it doesn’t feel new, but it does feel very cool being on a campus like this.
Q. What impressed you the most at Hockaday?
A. I think you can obviously tell that it’s important to Hockaday that there is art. The campus is gorgeous and the attention to all the details is obviously a priority. I think that it’s reflected also in the arts program, that there’s a lot of different dancers of different levels, and there is the intention of doing something really beautiful.
Q. What are three words that that you would use to define Hockaday dancers?
A. Fun, perceptive, encouraging.
Q. Ballet (and dancing) is absolutely stunning but requires an enormous amount of commitment and hard work. What suggestions would you give to dancers when they encounter difficulties during their dance-learning stages?
A. When you’re facing the obstacles, the beautiful things about ballet is there’s something really wonderful about being in an art form where you constantly get to challenge yourself. It is embracing the challenge and realizing that it’s a different type of success. You enjoy the fact that you did than the day before, and so I think it’s one of the greatest lessons to learn in life is to enjoy the challenge of something rather than enjoy the very easy satisfaction of just getting a good start. You don’t get a lot of good starts in ballet, a lot of the times you don’t do it right. It’s learning to enjoy the journey.
Q. Favorite musical/dance show?
A. Newsies is my favorite. It’s such an amazing dance musical!
Story and Photo by Emily Wu, Views Editor