I had the chance to chat with Kai Hazelwood, the founder of Good Trouble Makers and producer of the upcoming first annual Unicorn pARTy, all about her work and the upcoming event in Los Angeles. Hazelwood has been working to share the creative projects and voices of bi+ people and Unicorn pARTy is designed to be something that will resonate with a number of people. Thank you to her for answering my plethora of questions.
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I grew up in San Francisco and spent 6 years at the San Francisco Ballet School, summer programs at Dance Theater of Harlem and Alvin Ailey, and training at the Kirov Ballet in Saint Petersburg, Russia. I had a pretty easy coming out since I grew up in a progressive city in a progressive family and went to a super liberal Performing Arts High School.
When I moved to LA to complete my BFA at UCLA in 2007, I felt pretty marooned on Hetero island. I didn’t know how to meet queer people or where to go. An online search lead me to AmBi (A Meeting of Bisexual Individuals) and I started attending events. The organizer began nudging me to take a more active role. After some more forceful and loving nudges I became co-organizer of AmBi LA an over 3,000 person strong social and support group for bi+ people. Thanks to that I’ve appeared in BuzzFeed videos, led bi+ storytelling workshops, and spoken at high schools and colleges about bi+ community issues. I choreographed the 2016 bi+ contingent of the LA Pride Parade featuring the cast of Crazy Ex Girlfriend.
I began looking for more ways for my creative life to intersect with my bi+ activism fighting for visibility and equality for bi+ people. So I helped found Spectrum, a collaborative for bi+ artist to collaborate and skill share. We co-produced the first LA Bi Arts Festival with The American Institute of Bisexuality, AmBi, and the LA LGBT Center. I showed 2 pieces about bisexuality. The response touched me in a deep way. Many people told me they had never seen work that reflected their lived experiences, nor seen bi+ artists on stage. Over the next year that interest would take me to Barcelona to begin working on inVISIBLE, exploring how to tell bi+ stories onstage, with Martz Contemporary Dance Company. I came home really wanting to make space for bi+ dance makers to collaborate, and to find ways for bi+ community members to participate in a more direct way.
Now my community of bi+ movement artists and allies had grown to 12 members. Officially now called Good Trouble Makers, we have created 4 dance theatre works about bi+ identity, hosted 5 bi+ community storytelling workshops, 2 bi+ story silent discos, and have been invited to share our work at the Toronto Bi Arts Festival.
I’m also lucky enough to be the Resident Choreographer for Theatre Dybbuk, and have created numerous productions of my own. I was faculty at AMDA College & Conservatory for 4 years, before leaving to tour with Axis Dance Company. In 2017 I signed with Go 2 Talent Agency, and was an Art Omi International Arts Center Choreographic Resident. In 2018 I was invited to The Black Choreographer’s Festival in San Francisco, named an Artist in Residence for the City of Los Angeles, and invited to Jacob’s Pillow as part of the National Presenter’s Forum. I am a member of the 2019 Dance USA Institute for Leadership cohort, the Artistic Director of Downtown Dance & Movement in Los Angeles, and Good Trouble Makers: We are a genre expanding, practice-driven collaborative that is perpetually investigating what anti-racist and queer dance making, devising, teaching, and performing looks like.
Could you tell me about Good Troublemakers and the creation of this organization?
Good Trouble Makers grew out of the arts activism work I was doing, and the amazing artists and people I get to do it with. Good Trouble Makers are artist-agitators based in Los Angeles and working internationally. Inspired by the words of John Lewis, we are committed to making; making art, making room, making change, making good trouble. Good Trouble Makers do serious work, without taking ourselves too seriously. We celebrate the resiliency, creativity, and audacity of our queer and BIPOC communities; it has insured our survival, and will lead the way to liberation for all.
What inspired Unicorn pARTy?
Unicorn pARTy is the event I wish I could go to when I was searching for bi+ community! Thanks for my work with AmBi LA I realized how much celebration and fun is an important political act. Of course we need to march and change policies, but we also need to celebrate and build our communities, and that’s what Unicorn pARTy is all about.
Could you tell me a little bit more about this event?
Have you always wanted to go to a Pride event but felt nervous because you thought that you might not be “queer enough”? You’re not alone, and this party is for YOU. If you rock your rainbow joy loud and proud, or if you’re an ally who’s looking to celebrate bi+ pride, Unicorn pARTy, at the Bootleg Theatre is where you should be!
Unicorn pARTy, in honor of Bi Pride month, is a 21+ evening of art, dance, music and revelry celebrating love for more than one gender. Produced by Good Trouble Makers and hosted by Miss Barbie Q, Unicorn pARTy includes inVISIBLE, a dance theatre work directed by Kai Hazelwood featuring real bi+ stories from real bi+ people, a musical line up of some of LA’s best bi+ artists and bands like VATTICA and Cindy Jollotta plus a queer craft market featuring bi+ goods from Queerdo by Kiki. And of course drink specials and food trucks!
Unicorn pARTy is supported by The California Institute of Contemporary Arts, The American Institute of Bisexuality, AmBi, and #stillbisexual.
What is your role with inVISIBLE and what does the organization do?
inVISIBLE is the name of the dance theatre piece we’re premiering at Unicorn pARTy. I’m the director and choreographed this in collaboration with the other performers.
Could you share some other projects and events this organization hosts?
You can catch a short preview of inVISIBLE, and see some of LA’s top black queer nightlife performers at Nasty Fruit co produced by Miss B Nation and Good Trouble Makers Tuesday, August 27, 10pm at Precinct DTLA 357 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013 it’s sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs. Shockrocker69 will be the DJ, don’t miss it!
What is it like being an artist in residence in Los Angeles?
It’s GREAT! I’m so thankful for the financial support and the visibility being an artist in residence has given me. I’m so grateful for the support from the Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Independent Silverlake Jewish Community Center for being my host venue partner.
Do you have any other projects you’d like to mention?
You can catch us on stage with the West Hollywood Master Chorale in May of 2020. We’re excited to be creating an original work for their spring concert.
Where can our readers keep up with you and all of these events and organizations online?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Twitter, @thenerdygirlexp. You can find me on Twitter, @kleffnotes, on my blog, kleffnotes.wordpress.com, and on my kleffnotes YouTube channel.