Dancer, composer, musician and writer Kaitlin June’s initial plan of becoming a therapist was interrupted when she decided to follow her true dream of performing.
The North Carolina native and UNC alumna will perform her first one-woman show, Lightyear, Friday night at the Durham Arts Council.
The show incorporates dance, acrobatics, live piano and poetry and explores the creation and recollection of how memories are stored in the body.
“I was in a program for a master’s degree in expressive arts therapy, which combines dance therapy, music therapy, visual art therapy and creative writing therapy into one degree,” she said. “In this program we had to do a 10-minute performance about our life in whatever way we chose, so I gravitated to the piano. After the performance, I broke down crying because I realized I really wanted to perform.”
June said she has a rare, highly-superior autobiographical memory, characterized by the ability to recall specific dates and experiences in a way most people cannot.
“I’ve always had a fascination with dates and calendars and the way memory works together,” she said.
Although her performance is autobiographical, June said she hopes the audience will understand it is not just about her. She said she wants her performance to represent a journey through the human experience.
“No matter what race, gender or financial situation, everyone knows what it feels like to be disappointed or what excitement feels like, and that is the journey I’m inviting the audience on,” June said. “We all have different versions because our life experiences are different, but the common thread is our emotional experience, and that’s what unifies us.”
Writer Rremida Shkoza said she has worked with June in the past by allowing her to write music for one of her shows. She said June has a very incredible and intuitive side as a musician to convey a specific message to the audience.
"She’s so open to connecting to the audience,” she said. “Sometimes performers forget that it’s not the indulgence of performing, but it’s also the connection with the audience. Her work really reflects that.”
Performance and health communications teaching assistant Marie Garlock said when June creates something, it is about universal human concerns — inspiring people from diverse backgrounds.
“It’s a fantastic combination of physical powers,” she said. “She is very strong, athletic and graceful in how she moves her body and brings a delicate approach to the conceptual material that she’s bringing to life. She has a powerful physicality, but a nuanced approach to the ideas she brings to life.”