By Andrea Poteet
cut/ Eisenhower Dance Ensemble company manager Kristi Faulkner has worked with the company since 2009 and says, “There are people of all kinds in the dance field.”
‘Motown in Motion’
2:30 p.m. March 20
Detroit Opera House
1526 Broadway St.
When the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble performs its “Motown in Motion” program, merging modern dance routines with some of the biggest hits to come out of Hitsville, audiences are always wowed.
But behind the well-rehearsed dance moves and beloved songs is an integral part of the company that won’t be seen on stage.
Eisenhower Dance Ensemble company manager Kristi Faulkner has worked with the company since 2009, when she left Toledo in search of a job in dance after her longtime girlfriend landed a nursing position in Dearborn.
From the first interview, she said she knew the Southfield-based dance company was the place for her.
“I remember going in for my first interview and talking about my partner,” Faulkner says. “I walked out going, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I was that candid about my personal life in this interview and it wasn’t even a big deal.’ They didn’t even bat an eye.”
Faulkner, 26, who has been an out lesbian her entire professional life, said she has never experienced any negative comments in the workplace. She has found the modern dance world is especially accepting of people from all backgrounds, but said people not associated with dance tend to view it as a field dominated by gay men.
“People almost have the stereotype that if a man is in dance, he’s gay, and it’s an accepted thing,” Faulkner says. “But we don’t really hear about females (in the field) being gay. There are people of all kinds in the dance world.”
Faulkner began her love of dance when she enrolled in a tap class at age 3. From there, she went on to study a variety of other dances, from hip-hop to African and Korean styles, earning degrees from Bowling Green State University and a master’s from the College at Brockport in New York along the way. Faulkner then worked as a videographer at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival before beginning as a special events manager with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble.
Her current job has her handling bookings for the group and working closely with her favorite style of dance, she said.
“I love the individual style that can be put into it,” Faulkner says. “With each dance form, you can insert your own flavor into it. You can create your own technique and your choreographic voice can be so unique.”
The company will show off its unique choreography to music by some famous voices, including Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and the Supremes, when “Motown in Motion” comes to the Detroit Opera House March 20.
Faulkner said the program, which has become one of the company’s staples, is always a crowd pleaser.
“People just love it,” she says. “The music itself is so fun, and the dancing is very entertaining. It’s not what you would necessarily consider to be modern dance that sometimes people feel alienated from, it’s just more of an entertaining program for people to enjoy.”
Faulkner said what she most loves about her job is educating people about the company, which was founded in Detroit in 1991, and the high-quality dance performances that come from Michigan.
“I love being able to network with people all across the country and let them know that there’s dance in Michigan, and it’s alive and well,” she says. “A lot of people think of really good dance only coming from New York or the West coast, but to see that Detroit has a voice of dance is really exciting to me.”