By: Sarah Trested

INTERVIEW WITH KYL/D'S executive director: Ken metzner

As mentioned in previous posts, KYL/D will premiere a new work, Santuario, as part of the company's 2017 home season at the Prince Theater April 27-29. The work is a moving response to the tragic shootings at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Last month, KYL/D's Executive Director, Ken Metzner, visited Pulse Nightclub. This week, Sarah sat down with him to discuss his experience.


(SARAH): What was it like to visit Pulse Nightclub, after only having read about it?

(KEN): What struck me was how unprepared I was for the swell of emotion.  I have seen the dance artists rehearsing Santuario since last year, I had read about the shooting and done research, and my father used to work for the owner of Pulse, but the event still felt somewhat distant. It’s hard to describe what it’s like seeing the entire building fenced off, its rear wrapped in black fabric and its front and one side converted into a memorial featuring photos of each of the victims and thousands of prayers and reflections left there by their friends, family, and visitors. The memorial is very interactive; the boxes of candles, lighters, pens and ribbons invite you to contribute to it.  It’s very powerful doing that and witnessing others’ rituals. After our visit, my father, brother, and I went to the coffee shop across the narrow street from the club and there was something incongruous  and disturbing about sitting outside on a beautiful day, on a street corner, a few feet from a site of such horror and pain knowing that that could be any street corner in this country.

(SARAH): What thoughts do you have about the event?

(KEN): So many, but I keep coming back to the fact that Pulse was known as a safe space, or sanctuary, for so many people including the LGBTQ and Latino/a communities. The night of the shooting was “Latino Night.”  That the tragedy occurred on that particular night shatters this idea of sanctuary.

(SARAH): What feelings do you have now about Santuario in its relation to Pulse?

(KEN): Santuario is the Spanish word for sanctuary. And although the piece itself is an abstraction in response to what happened at Pulse, for me it feels more raw, more urgent.  I’m grateful that artists can contribute through their work to conversations and healing around such tragic events and the many related issues – gun violence, homophobia, racism -- that need our attention.

(SARAH): How do you think the arts can impact the way people understand and see race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.?

(KEN): I’m not sure that the arts can change the way people think about those things, but it can create opportunities for conversations and reflections on difficult subjects. Arts serves as a tool or a medium for healing. The arts have the capacity to stimulate new ways of seeing, thinking about, and talking about difficult issues because they have a way of accessing a part of us that argument often shuts down.

(SARAH): What words would you use to sum up your trip to Pulse?

(KEN): Difficult, Necessary, Hopeful