Katie Burks by Micah Cruver.jpg

If movement is involved,

I'm interested.

Katie Burks is an American dancer,

choreographer, educator, and adventurer

living a location independent lifestyle. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are you right now?

Currently: Texas, USA.

More often than not, my whereabouts are made public through my social media accounts. If you see I've tagged your stomping ground and you A) aren't psycho, B) are nearby, and C) are craving adventure, please message me! I love making new connections - so long as I'm not actively running a black ops mission in the middle of a jungle, facilitating a jewelry heist, or stowed away on a barge. In the event I am fully off-grid, your best chance of finding me is via bat signal. I suggest you use a moose instead of a bat to avoid confusion, but I respond to either.

Are you a ballerina? What kind of dancer are you?

Short Answer: No, and the kind that prefers to get paid for her work (a kind less prominent than you might think!)

Long, novel-length answer:

Growing up, I studied Ballet, Jazz, and Tap fundamentals alongside gymnastics, cheer tumbling, and musical theatre. Raised exceptionally Southern, I also trained in baton twirling... a lot. In fact, I spent so much of my childhood twirling that I had the privilege of being one of 16 to represent Team USA by performing at the Sydney Olympics - and you can bet those batons were dragged all the way down under for the show!

Soon after, a competitive dance studio introduced me to the world of Contemporary dance and I pursued focused training in Ballet, Jazz, and Contemporary. Following in the footsteps of the studio's Artistic Director, I auditioned for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to study dance pre-professionally.

It was there, at 14 years old, that I was exposed to Modern Dance’s Martha Graham and Lester Horton techniques, and I fell madly in love with the idea of a concert dance career. Dallas’ premiere dance presenter, TITAS, exposed me to every dance company and dance performance imaginable; I took workshops and learned from more dance icons than I can currently count. By 18, I had worked alongside and learned from more dance professionals than most dancers get to meet in their lifetime - and that was only the beginning.

Studying Dance at Point Park University and spending three summers at The American Dance Festival, I continued training in Ballet, Jazz, and Modern Dance. Point Park's curriculum taught in-depth Graham and Horton techniques as well as Katherine Dunham technique, while the ADF taught me José Limón technique and introduced me to the style of Postmodern dance. Along the way, I was also exposed to the styles and teachings of dance masters Lar Lubovitch, Mark Morris, David Parsons, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Shen Wei, Doug Varone, and more. I soon began dancing professionally for Contemporary and Jazz dance organizations across the USA.

Some years later, I moved to England to pursue graduate studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where I was exposed to interdisciplinary art and performance art. I watched a lot of dance and a lot of hyper-visual performance work that called itself dance but was absolutely not dance. I recognized the prevalence of dance in the museum and in site-specific locations abroad versus the traditionally stage-based work presented in the USA. But mostly, I held steadfast to the belief that my country (and the many great dance masters that came from it) pioneered Modern Dance, while my school's Hungarian namesake alongside many great other dance masters pioneered European Expressionist Dance.

So, I spend a lot of time calling myself a Modern dancer when abroad, mostly for the sake of American pride (moot that I don't work for the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, etc.). When making dances, I tend to select dancers who have a rather Americanized Jazz dance background in addition to steadfast Ballet training (or in my favorite special case, a European heavily trained in Latin ballroom dance alongside Ballet). And to save everyone from the long-winded explanation, I just say I'm a "contemporary dancer" to cover everything!

How did you get started?

My Grandmother was an opera singer that was originally trained to sing, dance, and perform alongside Vaudeville-era entertainers. My Grandfather is a retired Broadway lighting designer, photographer, and entertainment producer. People say talent skips a generation; I suppose I followed directly in both of their footsteps.

As soon as I could walk, my mother enrolled me in dance classes. Twyla Tharp says in her book The Creative Habit that, "Destiny, quite often, is a determined parent.” Mine was and remains the Dance Mom of the century: by the age of nine I had performed internationally. Soon after, I was performing for 50,000+ person crowds at Dallas Cowboy’s halftime shows. Who do you think dragged this girl out of bed at 5am to do her hair and makeup, or consistently ensured I was rehearsing? Thanks, Madre.

My mother also took care of three younger children until I was in public schooling, effectively giving this only child three younger siblings. Fittingly, my first choreographic premiere was in 1993, in which two children costumed in inflatable duck floats and arm wings ran around the room in a circle to the Disney song Under the Sea while I yelled at them to put their arms in the correct place and to run faster. Some say I’ve been bossing dancers around ever since.

Outside of dancing, my fondest childhood memories remain that of exploring the outdoors – especially getting lost on my Aunt and Uncle’s forest acreage. I’d spend ten percent of my time taking 35mm photos of buzzards I mistook for hawks and 90 percent plowing through tarantula webs and over grasshoppers on their 4x4 ATV. The former hobby stuck; I developed a serious interest in photography my senior year of high school and went on to pursue a BFA in photography alongside my undergraduate BA in dance.

Through the wonderful and influential friendships I made while in college in Pennsylvania, I fell in love with outdoor exploration even more. I learned to camp, hike, bike, and adventure. Off-roading a bicycle around Southside Pittsburgh, I got into an accident, broke my jaw in three places, and suffered a massive concussion. The crash necessitated rearranging a multitude of my priorities (including ability to finish the photography BFA).

I left the Northeastern US to recover in Texas. Once partially recovered, a dear friend and mentor invited me to speak to her students and teach a masterclass surrounding the privilege of movement. I fell in love with teaching, returned to school and finished my Dance BA, and set off on a movement adventure that spanned the continental US.

Many years of performing, teaching, and making dances all over the world later, I found myself burnt out pursuing movement as a profession because I was exhausted of living location dependent. I tired of being confined to a singular metropolitan city because finding my next company contract, teaching role, or performance gig necessitated doing so. I wasn’t happy with the idea of staying in one location indefinitely.

I threw away everything I'd been taught about having a successful or meaningful dance career for the second time in my life (the first being leaving NYC and meeting the many humans in PDX that changed my life forever). I threw away the notion that in order to be successful, a dance career can only happen in a big city. In doing so, I began traveling and prioritizing global exploration. I learned about places in the world where movement isn’t simply an entertainment commodity nor educational supplement but a cultural necessity of everyday living. I began learning about entrepreneurship and how to prioritize time for the things that matter most. And I started slowly piecing together what works for me – moving on stage, in the classroom, and outdoors in any capacity. I hope you find what works for you too. xx

What  is  a  location-independent  lifestyle   /   Why  are  you  location-independent?

I'm most often asked this question as, "Where are you living right now?"

Location Independence means trading expenses / amenities like the stability of a mortgage or a location-based income source in order to prioritize movement. That's really the key - I have to be moving - be it through dancing or through changing my physical environment.

I'm prideful to be American and to be Texan, but I feel most at home when I'm not at home (in any sense of the word). Instead, I feel at home when standing on a proscenium stage, collaborating with creative individuals, adventuring outdoors, or exploring beautiful places. This is not always an easy pursuit - my downtime is most often spent sleeping outside, en route to my next destination, or in the wings of a theatre - but because of this lifestyle my life is wild, wonderful, and truly my own.

Can you prove you're a real person?

I'm not a bot! I do tend to keep such late hours that many people are suspicious I'm a vampire, but my birth certificate says I'm human. Learn more about me + check out my credentials HERE.

Let's Work Together.

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