Katrina Cunningham- bringing clarity through her voice
As a dance major at SUNY Purchase, Katrina Cunningham came to New York with the expectation to dance– little did she know, she’d be singing as well.
“I was a really bad singer as a little girl”, Katrina said, sitting on her bed that she shares with a good friend. Moments earlier, she had belted out ‘Yayo’ by Lana Del Rey, more emotionally and genuinely than the artist herself. Being that singing was not Katrina’s intended art form, it seems that she became a singer in order to successfully challenge herself. She explained, “The voice is really vulnerable for me. With dance, I know a lot of the vocabulary at this point. I’ve already responded and vomited out all of my experience”.
However, things weren’t always so clear for Katrina. Recently, she has come out of the closet, both literally and metaphorically. Her introduction to New York consisted of living in an actual closet with no air conditioning. Everyone can relate to struggling in New York, but most people don’t hate it so much, yet know they have to stay; “I hate this place, it’s too hard to be here. But, I love what I do, and I know there’s so much opportunity here. I know if I put my energy into it, I’ll go far”.
Feeling un-empowered and uninspired, Katrina acknowledged that without her community of dancers and musicians, she would not have survived in New York. She said, “When you have nothing, its feels like everyone around you is so mean”. Being raised in Portland, Oregon, she had a nice balance of city and greenery: “I need space. I need green. You start to feel so connected to the bustle around you. I need to be in a place where you can hear the music that just exists”.
For a year of Katrina’s life, she refused to speak in her home. She was very quiet, creating her own noise in her head. However, her ballet teachers would call her Mom and say, ‘she needs to shut up’! Today, Katrina feels her expression as a dancer is abstract, giving the audience room to be uncertain, and so, she has chosen to use words to create the clarity; “When you use words, you have a lot of control over what comes out, so, I’m compelled to know what I’m talking about”.
With nightmares that consist of her trying to express urgency to people who are unable to hear her, it’s an honor to be able to spend time listening to her this Wednesday night at Mister Rogers. 231 Rogers Avenue Brooklyn NY 11225. Doors open at 8.