Town Talk Features

Creative Vision

Meet The Big Muddy Dance Company’s New Artistic Director

Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” Kirven Douthit-Boyd has dedicated himself to sharing that language with others through his art. After performing for 11 years with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, he’s been inspiring the next generation of dancers as the co-artistic director of dance at COCA. Now, he’s been selected to serve as the new artistic director of The Big Muddy Dance Company.

Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Boston. I grew up dancing there and moved to New York right after high school to dance with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

How did you get involved with dance?
I grew up dancing. My mom has five sisters, so I was raised by some really incredible women. As soon as I could walk, they thought I should be doing something. They always kept me active and moving, and when I was five, they put me in my first dance class.

Did you always know you wanted to dance professionally?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve had dance in my life, but I didn’t think of it as a professional option until I was in high school. I knew that I loved to move, but I didn’t know how to make it my career. I went to a performing arts high school, and in the spring of 1999, we were offered the chance to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform. I was transformed from that moment. I knew dance was what I was going to do with my life.

Why do you think dance is an impact artform?
From an artistic perspective, there is obvious beauty of bodies in motion. Beyond that, movement speaks to people’s souls. Dance really has the ability to tell stories, and it works well in collaboration with other artforms.

What brought you to St. Louis?
My husband, Antonio, is from St. Louis and grew up training at COCA. While we were in New York, he would still come home to help teach kids. I was blown away by St. Louis and also started helping train students at COCA every year.

How has it been transitioning to an off-stage role?
Before we moved to St. Louis, I was at the point in my career that I was asking, “What’s next?” I was fortunate because I had experience doing outreach, so I knew that I had a passion for teaching and coaching. It really is an ideal situation. I can learn and grow in a completely different way. It’s been great to focus on nurturing the side of me that likes to educate others, and I enjoy bringing the love of dance to my students.

How were you introduced to The Big Muddy Dance Company?
I was introduced to Big Muddy’s founder Paula Daivd, and she asked me to create a work for the company. I’ve had a connection to The Big Muddy ever since, and I’ve gotten more involved in its creative development process, working as choreographer and stepping into the role of artistic curator.

What do you hope to achieve as artistic director?
The Big Muddy has become a staple of the St. Louis dance landscape. My goal is to ellevate not only the organization, but also the local artistic community. I want to grow our reputation and bring in some of the most notable dancemakers, while also establishing a space for new creations and local collaboration on every level. I just really want to make The Big Muddy something grand, so St. Louis can feel proud about it.

What are you looking forward to for the company’s new season?
I’m really excited about the creative team we’re building. I’ve brought in people from all different backgrounds. Making sure we spotlight diverse artists is something that is crucial for me. I’m really looking forward to bringing different perspectives to the St. Louis community.

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