By GRACE DEAN
Lifelong dancer and former CHS student Mackenzie King hopes to inspire the Monterey Peninsula in a tour with the Chicago-based ethical dance nonprofit she founded, the Moonwater Dance Project.
After finding success in Chicago this June with their first show, Moonwater’s group of seven dancers began formulating educational programs and learned several new pieces in preparation for their trip to the Central Coast, where they will choreograph two pieces for CHS Dance III and IV classes to be performed at the Visual and Performing Arts show Jan. 23-24.
“There are so many things I love about Moonwater,” King says. “I love that every company member’s voice is heard, I love making art that matters to the dancers and to the audience, and I love that we not only have professional relationships, but also personal relationships with each other.”
From her first dance classes at the age of 3 to the present day, King says she has never stopped dancing, including dancing at CHS with instructor Kristine Tarozzi, taking private lessons, participating in college performances and teaching.
“She was always a very driven dance student, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career as a dancer,” Tarozzi says of her former student. “She was also lucky enough to have a family that was very supportive of that dream.”
After leaving CHS before her junior year, King went to a performing arts boarding school in Massachusetts that allowed her to tailor her schedule to a focus on dance, which helped further her dance career at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance in New York where she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance performance.
The lifelong dancer got a taste of the larger dance world when she moved to New York City following graduation, where she experienced the stereotypical life of a young artist working at various small jobs on top of constant auditions.
But it simply wasn’t an ideal situation for King. In her experience, New York had a negative, competitive atmosphere that didn’t allow for creative personal growth. After long deliberation, King decided to escape the NYC environment to go to Chicago where she was able to make the majority of her income from teaching dance, one of her career goals.
Although she had made vast improvements in her quality of life, that all changed when she began dancing for a company that she calls the antithesis of what dance should be.
“It could be so judgmental, so political and so impersonal,” King says. “I don’t think the color of your hair is a reason you shouldn’t be hired, but a lot of companies hire you because they want to replace a person that had [a certain color of hair or other specific physical characteristics].”
Seeing the silver lining in the situation, King and friend Kelsey Reiter started the Moonwater Dance Project to focus on ideas of artistry, individuality, collaboration and vulnerability. Now at Moonwater, the Carmel native has been able to craft an ideal creative environment.
Moonwater Dance Project and Mackenzie King will be at various sites around the Monterey Peninsula from Jan. 6-12 for workshops, showings and performances.