KYLE JOHNSON. Resourceful. Resilient. Inquisitive.
For Kyle Matthew Johnson, his inspirations and desires, what he seeks in his friends,
and what he considers his own best and worst qualities are all intimately connected.
In life as well as art.
When asked what motivates him, he replies promptly, “A perfectionist mentality, to be better than I am, a better listener, a better mover.” And also, “Since I was a little kid,
I’ve been a performer, in anything!”
Kyle has always had many interests and things he’s good at—from science to the practice of all sorts of arts: violin, piano, choir, acting, drawing, painting, writing. “As a carryover from dance,” he says. “I’m very detail-oriented and a work horse. I don’t want to do things half-way.” When he was working at the Mud Bay pet store 30-35 hours a week until recently, he dedicated himself to understanding the products, as well as animal nutrition and health, and became a prized employee. But even though he might be very successful in a non-artistic environment, he would never feel completed or whole. “To express myself through art is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Specifically, Kyle says, “there is something about being on stage, in front of an audience. I’m best on stage.” He confesses “I start out sloppy” in the studio, then “grow” through the rehearsal process, and “peak at performance.”
Communication is very important to Kyle. When I ask him what characteristics are important to him in a close friend or partner, he names being a good listener, loyalty, and the kind of friendship that persists even through absence. In his own life, he attempts to live up to those ideals. “I always try to hear all that’s being said.” After a short pause, he adds, “I hear but don’t always communicate back. I’m a quiet person and can be taken as not communicative.”
Sometimes people say of him “You’re a hard one to read” or “Still waters run deep”— which points, surely, to another reason that the performing arts draws Kyle. In danced theater an introverted person can transcend diffidence, conveying to the audience through movement what words often cannot say.
Communication with an audience starts with connection to other dancers in the company. Inside the studio and onstage, Kyle says that his best attributes as a dancer are as a partner, where he makes a big effort to be “sensitive to the needs of and good at communicating with whoever I’m dancing with. Dancing solo feels foreign. Supposing I had to do solo only, I would retire early. The connection with another dancer on stage has become too important for me. It would feel indulgent to dance by myself.”
Kyle feels he has matured considerably as a partner while with Whim W’Him. He has learned a lot from artistic director Olivier Wevers and the other dancers, especially Tory Peil, with whom he has now been paired in a number of works, from the comically estranged spouses in Olivier’s antic Les Sylphides to a more abstracted dancing pair in Above the Cloud or a tender couple in this January’s We are not the same.
Not surprisingly, Kyle thrives in the atmosphere, at once good-natured and dedicated of Whim W’Him. The sense of growing closeness within the company has been enhanced by the contracts the dancers have signed, allowing them to become an ensemble with continuity, rather than just a pickup band.
Like other company members Kyle, can now concentrate more on dance, though he still has a busy life, teaching early morning barre classes at The Studios in downtown Seattle and ballet on Saturdays at Velocity Dance Center, then working with Whim W’him from 10 to 4 on five or six days of rehearsal weeks. He also can takes on some new dance roles, like the of the lead male in Ballet Bellevue‘s recent contemporary Firebird, with choreography by Jennifer Porter.
Says Kyle, “Whim was a solid group before, but it took until now for this bond to form.” Each dancer is at once a distinct individual and a member of a whole. In company “pow-wows” where various matters are discussed from time to time, the less assertive dancers speak up. Everyone is listened to and heard. Newest dancer Justin Reiter “felt just right, and we do things together, like Chinese New Year, even during our time off.”
It’s very tight bunch of whimmers these days.