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The Power of Community through Dance: A Conversation with KT Folz – Koolers Lifestyle Podcast Ep. 21

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00:00:00 KT Folz
Base human yearnings. Are to feel love, to feel generative, to take risk, and to have choices. And so dance and it could be, it could be dance, it could be painting, it could be singing, it could be so many things. But yeah, for me, dance is is the vehicle that that I most enjoy and it at the basic level of our human yearning. To experience ourselves as humans here, we want, we want to feel generative. And creative. And so dance is a way that we are able to be generative and creative in our bodies. And in addition, it also provides us to to perform on stage, provides us this opportunity to take risk, you know, and to make a choice on our own behalf and. And when we do that and we’re really connected to ourselves, then there’s a whole. Advanced availability that we have to be connected to other people. Because I can’t really be connected to you if I’m not connected to myself.

00:01:09 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Cooler Lifestyle podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work, and serve through my Business School or garage doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities. Why? Because Community matters, and I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support. Community fabric that our relationships make up, and collectively we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth, and our health. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining the Cooler Lifestyle podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn today, I have a great friend, Katie Joy, cofounder and director of the Crestview Dance Collective. Katie, thank you so much for joining.

00:02:03 KT Folz
Thanks for having me here now. Yeah, hello. Good morning or evening to everybody in the Gunnison Valley and beyond. Thanks for listening. Yeah.

00:02:13 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I’m I’m glad that you’re your Katie, and I’m excited to drop in a conversation with you. I’ve known of you for a very long time. I’ve known a little bit closer to you, you know, for a shorter amount of time. And yet. Like. We don’t hang out at too much and I’m looking forward to those times and and getting to know you more. Yeah. Where did you grow up?

00:02:37 KT Folz
So I grew up about 10 minutes outside of Chicago. You know a small suburb called the Grange? And like as little kids, we would stand on the tracks and you could see downtown from the train tracks by my house, yes. So. And then after my childhood, around 17, I went and moved into the city and then spent another. 10 years of my life living in Chicago and working in Chicago.

00:03:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What part of the city?

00:03:07 KT Folz
Pretty much all over. I went to UIC which is downtown like Greektown area and then I moved into the north side and I worked up on the north side and I also not super far north like more like Logan Square. Make view area. And then I worked in Chinatown. I I was a public school teacher, a Chicago Public school teacher, and I taught for. I taught at a few different schools in the city, but the one that I spent the most time at was in Chinatown. Which was Wow, which was pretty amazing. I I got to work with Chinese and African American students and was one of maybe. Two Caucasian teachers in the building and. So it’s it’s a great. A great chapter of my life.

00:03:56 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I love this. Now we have this whole new connection. I too was a kid that grew up standing on railroad tracks in Chicago, and there I grew up in Beverly on the South side. So my dad is from north side, his brothers, his whole family, Northside lineage. Cubs fans, everything about the north side. And then when I was born, my parents lived on north and I don’t know what really brought them to the South side, but I grew up in Beverly on the South side. At 11 we moved into Michigan, but. Rooted in Chicago.

00:04:34 KT Folz

00:04:35 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Which is cool.

00:04:36 KT Folz
Yeah, I’m. I’m a easily a fifth generation Chicagoan. It’s awesome. Yeah. Awesome.

00:04:42 Luke
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00:05:21 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So how’d you end you in Crested Butte? What was the little synapses there from the city into the mountain town?

00:05:29 KT Folz
When I was getting my education degree, I had I I really liked studying, so I was. I had a triple minor. Like I studied art and French and biology and I needed to get a lot of biology credits really fast. to shop in time for. For my student teaching to start. And so there was a sign on the outside of the door of my professors office that said come study biology in the Rocky Mountains and it had this beautiful picture of this mountain and wildflowers and cabins. And so I went to rumble to Rocky Mountain biological lab as a 20 year old straight from Chicago. With my cotton sleeping bag and my cotton wardrobe and I spent a summer at Rumble and. And it totally changed my life, being somebody who was from an urban area. Yeah, like I had never gone camping or hiking or never even probably never even seen like actual stars. Because it was so urban where I lived, so 20 years olds being up in Gothic it was. It was life changing.

00:06:49 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What a night and day shift. Yeah, that’s amazing.

00:06:52 KT Folz
And it wasn’t for I was at Gothic and I had no idea Crested Butte. Was a ski town or was right next door. And so being a skateboarder from an urban area, when I found out that there was this. Ski resort and a place to snowboard. It was really intriguing to me. And I fell in love with Crested Butte during that time and the times that we would hitchhike down from Gothic. I have never experienced a town that. Where people would say hello to each other on the street.

00:07:28 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I love.

00:07:28 KT Folz
That and my first few times in town I I thought that people thought I was somebody else. And we’re mistaking me for for someone else. And that’s why they were saying hi to me. And then when I realized they were just saying hello, just to be kind, and it settled in my body in a whole nother way. Of awareness of how humans could do community and could do life. And what that meant and so. Not only did the. Divine, beautiful nature of this valley. Change who I was and rewire me at a whole nother level, but. But having that community experience. It was pretty life changing. And I also got really lucky. My first friends in in Crested Butte when I when I was living at Gothic at 20 years old, I came to town and. Went to the talk and hung out and I my first friends were Maddie Rob and Dylan McKnight and sea bass Sebastian Killam and Dreddy Derek Derek see but last when I knew him he was 30 Derek and then Umm and and that was that was a that was pretty special to meet them where people at 20 years old and. So your first moments in Crested Butte, so. Yeah, they came at a special time and yeah, it really impacted me.

00:08:57 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Wait, what year was that?

00:08:59 KT Folz
Uh, that would have been 25 years ago. So 9898. Yeah, awesome. Long time. Awesome.

00:09:11 Matthew Kuehlhorn
There’s been a little bit of change in the valley since.

00:09:13 KT Folz
Then yeah, just a little.

00:09:15 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Just a little. Have you been consistently in the valley since 98? No. You ever exited and they went for a few.

00:09:25 KT Folz
Years, yeah. I was an undergrad then, so I went back after the summer finished. I went back to college. I finished college, and then I taught full time in Chicago. Public schools were while four years after that. And when I came back to the Bally. A lot, yeah. It was probably like five years after that first summer until I came back, cause I’ve been here 20 years now. And. I. Have stayed with education, but I was I transitioned to teaching abroad, so I was teaching internationally and doing high school and college study abroad trips. OK, so I for a big chunk of my first years in the valley, when you used to be able to do this, I was in and out. I would come for summer and winter, but then I would leave for the spring and the fall because there wasn’t. It was really hard to work here during the spring, in the fall. And so I would go do international tricks, international education trips during those times. Those are back in the good old days when.

00:10:35 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Those are the good old days.

00:10:36 KT Folz
There’s a lot of housing and come and go and that’s yeah, the hardest part was finding work. But that’s yeah, little different now.

00:10:46 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah. A little different now and during that time frame, if I’ve got my lineage correct, you were here through. You know what I would reference like the 050607. There was a bubble. There was a lot of shift happening. That was before the veil effect, if you will. But now we’ve got another shift. The shift is on. Really. COVID spurred it also, like there’s a multiple factors. What do you see about? Our current you know shift in the valley versus maybe that 0607 timeframe and how it’s different, what’s what’s new these days that might be bringing forth other challenges and or opportunity.

00:11:33 KT Folz
Yeah. You know, I think it’s. So I’m 45 now and I was 25 then. So and what’s new is my perspective. Obviously, you know all of our perspectives have changed. It first and foremost and that. God allows us a whole a lot more layers to see things through, so. What I think I saw back then maybe clouded by my 20 something lens of ideology and whatnot, but. You know, I like everybody I have personally felt and have witnessed all the impacts of. The loss of housing and the. What I would say is the devastating impact of vacation rentals. On our housing and. You know the impact of. COVID and how it changed people’s landscape of their jobs and how so many more people moved to our town and the real estate explosion that happened and Wall Street’s ties to the real estate explosion. And you know just how housing is changing all over the country. It’s not just in our town but. And it’s interesting. And and challenging in our town to see how it’s been impacting the fabric of our culture and and our friends and people that we’ve we’ve seen move away. And also the people that were typically moving here back in 20 years ago. That aren’t anymore, you know, having a a vibrant demographic of 20 somethings. Who are eager to work and excited to be here. Was a huge asset I think to the Community. It certainly how I came here and. Yeah, I I just don’t. See that happening in the same way that it was and not not clear on how to even make that sustainable. I have some ideas, but so, so it’s interesting to to witness these changes and there are also changes that we’ve seen. And a lot of other places up and down the coast of California and all the other towns and all the other mountain towns that are were a little bit more discovered before we were and so. Yeah, it’s it’s interesting to watch.

00:14:14 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It is interesting. You know it can bring up. Emotions of grief, sometimes because it feels like a loss. And my question is. Is it a loss do you think I mean? We’ve seen this so you know just to your point we can look back even take the mountain towns of Aspen, tell you ride. You know there’s definitely communities in California and I grew up once I left Chicago. I grew up in a resort town, very tourist based Michigan and similar thing. And part of this is population growth. Some of its the dynamics of just people’s perspectives the freedom to work from anywhere and wanting to get out of the bigger towns. So then coming into a small town and you know, it makes me think of The Lorax like. Does it stop? Is it worth stopping? There’s some loss, there’s shift. The only change is constant. What do we do? What? Where do we go with that?

00:15:19 KT Folz
Well, for for me, even managing the grief. A has led me down a mourner. I guess spiritual path I would say around. Perceiving this whole situation, then? This is not unique to our town, to our valley or to our country. I mean, if you look back in history, this has been happening. Fur. Thousands of years. I mean, people have had fighting over resources, people who have. More power and more wealth have been. Taking. Taking land from. Indigenous groups for thousands of years. Everywhere, all over the world. It’s just I feel like this is just another iteration of that. It’s it’s a value system that. I believe is inherent to capitalism. And to efficiency. You know, as long as we are. Driven by our fear of survival and. Efficiency we will be. Always. Individually. Trying to get what we need to survive and ignoring the big picture. And that big picture includes our planet and our communities, our tribes, our culture, our beauty and and just what we have to offer as humans. To this planet and this existence, you know, I mean, we’ve turned. We’re like slowly turning into or maybe rapidly turning into. Culture that is working. For the majority of their time and most people. Don’t even remember how to. Umm. Play music anymore, or dance or so, or paint, or make beauty, or speak more than one language, or remember their ancestral stories, or know the names of their great grandparents or with their family came from, you know, and we’ve lost our origin stories as a species, not as a species in total, but in our. I’m talking about our particular Westernized culture driven by. I’m driven by capitalism and and efficiency and so. I think this or me internally, this is so much of a bigger conversation than just how do we solve affordable housing in the valley. And this is a paradigm that we’re living in. This is a. A value system that is consuming humans all over the planet and it’s driving us to near extinction and so. I I have my own baby. Perspective on on what can each of us do? Because systemically, it feels overwhelming to try to change that. It feels overwhelming to try to make affordable housing in the valley actually affordable and available, you know? And so. How how do you tackle this, this larger decline, I believe, of of human culture? Really in human human values and. And I think that starts with from within. You know that starts from from changing. Our own experience of ourselves. And the world around us from within and changing our own value system and. You know, remembering who we really are. Remembering what it means to be human and how to make beauty and how to have a relationship with the planet that we live on and how to. How to truly have a remembrance of culture and and all. I’ll use the term. That mercy Tellander uses a spiritual improvisation, you know, spiritual awakening and and and and improvisationally remembering and developing ourselves into. I mean into a new. A new paradigm?

00:19:36 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, that’s what it is. I didn’t. And you mentioned that word paradigm. Um, I love that word. I think it’s super applicable. I almost feel like. The optimism that I have is in thinking that we are in the middle of a paradigm shift. And a paradigm can change everything and. We can go down that rabbit hole. However, I’m more interested in seeing if there’s a connected thread here because you brought up. You know, some um. Not like we need to remember the connections, and it seems like that might be part of the mission that’s driving the work you do through the dance collective. Would you agree with?

00:20:24 KT Folz
That definitely.

00:20:26 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What’s the mission of the Crosby Dance Collective?

00:20:30 KT Folz
So. Just to just to explain to listeners what is the Crested Butte Dance collective, 14 years ago, myself and Nicole Blazer H Marziano Lindsay and Joan Grant came together to create a dance production called Move the butt because we wanted to create. More of a community LED talent show of sorts. And we did that, and it made us realize how important it was to maintain this. There’s a group of people in this mission of of creating a dance community that was doing productions and getting people involved who may not consider themselves dancers. And so we started the dance collective. And that’s been operating for 14 years. Currently, we are part of the Crested Butte School of Dance. We are a program under the nonprofit of the Crested Butte School of Dance, and our mission is to use dance as a vehicle to connect people to themselves, to each other, and to the world around them. What do you use dance as a vehicle? Connect people to themselves, to each other, and to the world around them. And that mission comes from one of my teachers who. It is from a body of work from Virginia Satir, who was a very famous family systems therapist, and she believed that in order for people to be whole people, they need to be connected to themselves, to each other and to the world around them.

00:22:11 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I love that. And is that again referencing the internal game? Like being connected. To myself means I have to feel what my body feels and drop in, which to be honest is part of my journey, I think in my 30s especially. I was of the mindset of like disconnecting from the body. That was my own journey and it created its own issues. And the more that I can become connected and and feel. I mean is that what? Dance can do.

00:22:47 KT Folz
I yeah, I think dance can, definitely. And does do that It connects us to our bodies. It releases on a somatic level our our traumas, our emotions, anything that is potentially stagnant or stuck or buried. You know, when we if we don’t have. Resources to process, let’s say verbally, what’s going on for us. Yes. And a lot of times processing or moving something somatically or through the body can help us get to a deeper connection to ourselves in what’s going on for us. And and as well. There’s a place where all humans. Need to have a deep yearning to feel generative. So this comes from my study and family systems therapy at Virginia Satir’s work that she believes that. A base human yearnings. Are to feel love, to feel generative, to take risk, and to have choice. And so dance and it could be, it could be dance, it could be painting, it could be singing, it could be so many things. But yeah, for me, dance is is the vehicle that that I most enjoy and it at the basic level of our human yearning. To experience ourselves as humans here, we want, we want to feel generative. And creative. And so dance is a way that we are able to be generative and creative in our bodies. And in addition, it also provides us to to perform on stage, provides us this opportunity to take risk, you know, and to make a choice on our own behalf and. And when we do that and we’re really connected to ourselves, then there’s a whole. Advanced availability that we have to be connected to other people. Because I can’t really be connected to you if I’m not connected to myself. And so when you bring a bunch of people together to dance together. In a shared. Class or a shared, you know, production. And all of a sudden we have this sameness, you know, we have this shared experience that’s. Creating this way for us to connect to ourselves. And be generative and take risks and have choice and feel love and then I can really connect to you. At a whole other level that wasn’t available to us before. And then when we put that on a stage. And we perform in front of our community and we have our, our best friends and our sisters and our. Husbands and wives and children or and our dental hygienists and you know our bus driver and you know all the people in our community are there witnessing that and seeing us. Then they’re seeing a whole other level and layer and they’re also being influenced by what we’re offering and and our our the way that we are being creative and generative and and our offering to them. And hopefully being impacted by that beauty and then being connected on a community level to each other. And this and this production of move abuse specifically where we pull all these different people together and it’s more of a talent show and everyone gets to showcase their own. Their own pieces, the choreographers. Choose what they’re gonna. To the they find their dancers and they create all these different individualized pieces, and then you have this whole other layer where each piece is. Connected to. Something that people are experiencing, whether that’s. Joy and sexuality, or whether that’s grief because someone in our community has passed away, or it’s anger because of what’s happening in the war, or what’s happening with people’s human rights, you know, all these different. Things that are going on within the human experience of our community and beyond then get channeled into this art form. And get portrayed on stage and then you know we’re we’re together we’re sharing in that processing or that grief or that joy and and it’s it becomes a a shared experience of of the pulse of what’s going on right now and if I can keep going on this tangent I’m sorry no I’m going on very well and and I believe that is what connects us back to our ancestral lineages that. We were very much dancing all the time. At for every harvest, for every planting, for every birth, for every wedding, for every major katastrophe, for every time of sickness and plague, all of our people dance, whether you are from Africa or you are from Croatia, or you’re from Iceland, or anywhere on the planet. People dance, going back all the way to the moments of our are becoming bipedal. And so, and people danced to mark and pray for what was happening and what was needed, and their gratitude above all for their gratitude of of their incarnations and so. What what for me when I enter into this work and and creating another? Container remove the bus for another year or whatever other dance productions we’re doing. That’s. That’s my prayer. That’s my prayer. Is that is that these moments of us coming together and shared. Creativity will connect us to ourselves, to each other, to the world around us, to our ancestors, to remembering who we are as humans, and to hopefully. Coming to to a place of where we we can truly be alive. And keep everything alive and keep this planet alive and keep our culture alive and keep our hearts alive in the midst of of. Of all this oppressive. Yeah. So it will be, yeah.

00:29:27 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Thank you.

00:29:28 KT Folz
Well, thanks for letting me go on on my rant.

00:29:31 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Account. How?

00:29:33 KT Folz
Many people just think they’re dancing, but for me?

00:29:36 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I’m like, yes.

00:29:36 KT Folz
That’s what we’re doing. We’re saving the world. We’re, we’re, we’re trying to feed. As my teacher of our team Partell would say, we’re trying to feed the holy. You’re trying to feed the holy with with our beauty.

00:29:49 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I had a feeling our conversation would go to a level of depth that. Um would be enriching. Katie, how many move the boots have there been?

00:30:02 KT Folz
We have had 13 and this year will be our 14th year. Possum.

00:30:08 Matthew Kuehlhorn
When is this one coming?

00:30:10 KT Folz
Up it is on February 23rd, 24th and 25th we will have four shows. The Center for the Arts in Crestview.

00:30:21 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Beautiful. I again like truly, honestly, thank you. Um, thank you and the team of founders and for you now holding this space. Well, you just explained is is beautiful. It’s strengthening community I. I can’t. Agreed. More that you know, the movement of emotion, energy and motion like. What an awesome way of. Moving, you know, Somatically but also. Building these relationships because. Their generative creative risk choice, like everything’s there and I know from my work in. Our county substance abuse prevention project, like risk, is an important thing and. Man, I might be doing it myself, but. Sheltering our kids is almost a natural thing as well, and and yet we have to take risks ourselves and encourage our kids to take risks. It’s where we learn. So anyway. I just really appreciate that. I love the work. I love going to the movies, Butte shows. It definitely moves me, you know, any show I can feel, I will cry it more shows at some point in that moment. But there’s also the cheers, like there’s the whole range, right? And it’s it’s just beautiful. So thank you.

00:31:47 KT Folz
Yeah, thank you. And thank you to the community for supporting these shows because that’s what’s made it possible for us to continue on in this work. Is that we sell out every show and the community members. You know, are there supporting us energetically buying tickets and also to our business sponsors. You know, we we get a lot of support from businesses in town. Who are? We’re donating money to us to become business sponsors for the show to make sure we can cover our costs. We get a lot of support from the Center for the Arts and and you know if anyone’s interested in becoming a business sponsor you can reach out to us and we would love to have your help and support and. Yeah, it’s some it takes a community effort to put on a show, and this year we have 100 and roughly 110 dancers and we’ll probably hopefully sell out to about 1200. Audience members and. Four shows and 22 different dance pieces. So it’s what hopefully. It’ll be really wonderful. It’s a really great show already and yeah, yeah, one from the community out there.

00:33:07 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So KT, as we start wrapping up this conversation and I’ve been really enjoying this. I have some notes so thank you. I love this. But for for move the view just so we can summarize the show is about a month away. You’ve got. A lot of dancers, a lot of talent coming up, a lot of our community members to show and strut and and and move the Butte and. Right now, is this the time where you’re looking for those business sponsors? Yeah, this is the time for businesses to say, hey, I’m, I’m engaged. And what’s the best way for a business sponsor to reach out?

00:33:46 KT Folz
The best way would be to e-mail me @ move the Butte. At Cool. Well move the view or you could go to our website @ And I can get information out to whoever might be interested.

00:34:12 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Is it strictly businesses or are there is there room for?

00:34:15 KT Folz
Private can there are, we have a lot of individual sponsors as well, people that are just really passionate about this show and about the work that we do and that that one sponsor donate to this production and these donations help us to pay for the show and to pay a livable wage to the staff that runs the show. You know, we have a lot of volunteers and a lot of you know. Weeks. It takes about, I’d say 1000 hours staffing hours to make this show possible. And several. Yeah, it’s expensive. It’s expensive to put on a production like this and to rent a theater and to have a tech team. So yeah, the donations help us with that, and then they also help us. Carry on our mission into other productions as well, because as most people know, the arts are really underfunded. Heather, especially in this community where it’s so expensive to live and it’s so challenging to find housing, you know, it’s really important that we make sure that all of our arts organizations in the valley are funded well so that people can continue to have livable wages. So support all the nonprofits, everybody out there who can please all, all, all of them, arts organizations and beyond, mental health organizations, everyone, all the nonprofits need it in order to. And all of our schools need it. In order to pay all of these people living wages.

00:35:47 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. Yeah, it definitely takes a village and um. In closing KT, we will add that e-mail and likely a link to the website in our in our show notes and we’ll work to get this out if you’re listening and want to contribute to move the Butte.  and when do tickets go on sale?

00:36:11 KT Folz
Tickets will go on sale to the general public on February 6th. Cool, and you can find out more information about how to buy those tickets at

00:36:25 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Awesome. Katie, I don’t want to go, but we’re gonna go.

00:36:33 KT Folz
We can continue this over dinner.

00:36:35 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s all that’s right.

00:36:36 KT Folz
Would be great. That’s right. Thanks so much for having me on and and thanks to all the listeners for. Or listening and and for supporting dance and move the beat in the valley and if anybody wants to continue any conversations with me just reach out. I’m always. Really up for a good conversation about life and being human.

00:36:57 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I’d love that. We’ll get dinner soon. Katt. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your passion.

00:37:02 KT Folz
Thanks, Matt. Have a good day.