Speaker, Storyteller, Women's Lives, LGBT Issues, Body Diversity and Social Justice
Kimberly Dark is a writer, storyteller and speaker who helps audiences discover that we are creating the world, even as it creates us. She’s the author of five award-winning performance scripts and a number of educational programs regarding the body in culture — how appearances and identities influence our experiences in the world related to gender, race, body type/size, beauty, ability, etc. She uses humor and intimacy to prompt audiences to discover their influences and reclaim their power as social creators.
Dark blogs regularly for Huffington Post and Ms Magazine, in addition to contributing essays, stories and articles to a wide range of books and publications. She travels the English-speaking world doing performances and keynote presentations at colleges and universities, conferences, theatres and festivals. She has been invited to present her unique blend of performance and presentation, writing and workshops at hundreds of venues in the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland and other nations during the past twenty years. She lectures in a graduate program in Sociological Practice at California State University, San Marcos.
The Evening Echo in Cork, Ireland says “the balance between objectivity and intimate analysis certainly gives Dark an edge and has made her a force to be reckoned with on every level.” The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah says “Dark doesn’t shy away from provocative, incendiary statements, but don’t expect a rant. Her shows, leavened with humor, are more likely to explore how small everyday moments can inform the arc of our lives.”The High Plains Reader in Fargo, North Dakota says “Dark’s skill as a storyteller gets to your heart by exposing hers.”
Congratulations on being chosen as one of the 2010 Campus Pride Blog's Top 25 "BEST OF THE BEST" LGBT speakers, performers who raises awareness of inclusion, visibility on college campuses nationally!
NACA SHOWCASING ARTIST - NATIONALS TRAINING SHOWCASE 2009, NORTHERN PLAINS TRAINING SHOWCASE 2009, WEST LECTURE SHOWCASE 2006
Why book a performance program rather than a traditional lecture?
Most good speakers and teachers rely on storytelling, but the use of specific "acted/scripted" stories provide a few additional hooks. First, they disarm the audience with entertainment — especially important when the themes are tough to discuss. They also provide some variety — a way to stop thinking about the theme so directly for a moment and have a laugh — diffuse some energy (even though the sneaky thing is that the theme is still there!) The audience can think "she's not talking TO me right now, it's just a story." Third, performance pieces offer a tighter story construction — one that uses poetic devises to trigger memory and meaning-making. Audiences REMEMBER the content longer.
These programs do the same "work" of a traditional training or keynote, in that they build to specific numbered "tools" or "suggestions for change/empowerment." They just do it without the audience feeling talked-to — entertainment is always paramount.
Becoming the Subject of Your Own Story - Rather Than the Object of Another's Gaze! (personal power and responsibility, women's empowerment, body image)
This spoken word performance uses humor and first-person storytelling to uncover the various ways that women (and men) cheat the world of their fabulous human potential by focusing too often on appearance, sweetness and popularity, rather than living full lives. The show does not preach or instruct. Rather audience members discover their own empowerment through Kimberly's funny and personal tales. Dark also offers five suggestions that can help anyone develop greater personal sovereignty and start becoming a more vibrant participant in life.
"The audience seemed to relate to Dark's stories with enthusiastic laughter and inspired statements. Dark incorporated the crowd's comments and questions during the performance itself and during the question and answer period... She creates spaces for conversations to happen..." -The Athenaeum, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Complicated Courtesies (diversity and personal empowerment)
Have you learned to embrace your own complexities? We all have them: aspects of our personalities that we don't bring out in every kind of company. Do you handle your various "selves" with panache and profundity? Or do you try to pretend you're only what you show a certain audience?
Come explore how to become a courteous chimera — the kind of multi-faceted, fantastical creature that has many fearsome and fantastic features and yet, remains friendly to all. Who knows, if we learn to embrace our inner diversity — maybe loving the diversity in others won't be so hard…
Things I Learned from Fat People on the Plane
Sit next to the fat lady on the airplane – and this time listen to what SHE has to say. This body wants to MOVE – across the country, around the world, in gyms and yoga studios. "Things I Learned from Fat People on the Plane" is about living fully in a world that hates fat. It’s about movement of all kinds – travel, exercise, sex and how fat folks are often expected to stay so still they disappear. "Things I Learned from Fat People on the Plane" asks, "What’s a fat, sexy middle-aged babe have to do to get a ticket on the on the Respect Express (with a seatbelt big enough for safety)?"
The Gayness: Love and Hate in America
The Gayness: Love and Hate in America is an entertaining and thought-provoking program that helps students sort out why things get so tense when we start discussing gender and sexuality in modern America. Using engaging stories and audience interaction, Dark models how we can have more productive dialogue on gender privilege, discrimination and sexual orientation in everyday settings. “The Gayness” is not just about just being gay or straight – it’s about how we define and love ourselves and others – and through these topics, we can reclaim a sense of power to create positive social interactions – on the small scale in our communities.
“Nothing I write can adequately express the power of change that comes with a Kimberly Dark experience. Kimberly has been a part of my new works festival for 2 seasons, and her performance energies, her writing skills, and her expertise at creating social dialogue through theatre have continued to prove the power of artistic activism. At every turn, Kimberly offers a new way to look at and engage with the social issues that define the 21st century, and her greatest gift seems to be the fearless way in which she exposes her deepest heart through artistry. It is my firm belief that theatre creates visual/oral images of not only who we are as a culture, but who we can be as human beings, and whenever I ask Kimberly Dark to show us our greatest self, she does so. I have been privileged to have her here, and she has done what many people cannot believe possible: she changes lives by simply telling us a story.” – Susan Russell PhD, Pennsylvania State University (The Gayness debuted at the Penn State Cultural Conversations festival in 2012).
Is that a Dude? Inside Lesbian Gender – it's more complex than you think! (LGBT, gender, trans)
Have you ever stared, trying to figure out if someone is male or female? Have you ever wondered why we care so much? This lecture/performance explores "lesbian gender" in the context of cultural misogyny and systems of oppression and discrimination. In the process, she also explores the bigger picture of privilege and oppression (based on race, class, gender, etc.) As engaging for primarily heterosexual audiences as for queer audiences, Kimberly Dark argues against the reign of duality in American culture. Yes, the "gender freakout" can be humorous — and tragic, but above all, instructive as we work to create richer, fuller lives and more inclusive social systems.
Spoken Word Performances (tailored to your theme, or with student participation)
If there's not already a vibrant poetry slam community in your city, take the opportunity to sample the event during Kimberly's visit. In addition to performing her own work, she can also emcee a poetry slam or evening of performance poetry for your community or campus. The event can include a preparatory workshop if you choose, or have a specific focus (women's lives, queer issues, disability, etc.). This type of event allows for locals to be exposed to and learn the skills of performance/slam poetry so that they can create future events. And, with issue-specific slams, locals have the opportunity to be the performers of their own lives, while providing an entertaining and thought-provoking event for a broader audience.
Lectures and Workshops
"Gender, Race, and Money"
The gap between rich and poor in the United has been widening and this is particularly pronounced in communities of color and for women. During this engaging and interactive lecture, Dark teaches participants about trends in the distribution of wealth in America and how those trends affect all Americans. We can no longer afford to ignore the history of privilege and poverty, if we hope to create a world in which that American dream of fairness and prosperity can become a reality.
In this hugely participatory event, Dark leads participants through exercises to help them understand their own wealth, how it is influenced by the privilege of birth and circumstances and how those who lack wealth may not be as personally deficient as some believe. The content of this lecture is applicable to each person who uses money - and participants will leave with the tools for making connections with others to work toward a more just economy.
"Becoming the Subject of Your Own Story (Rather than the Object of Another’s Gaze)"
This spoken word performance uses humor and first-person storytelling to uncover the various ways that women (and men) cheat the world of their fabulous human potential by focusing too often on appearance, sweetness and popularity, rather than living full lives. The show does not preach or instruct. Rather audience members discover their own empowerment through Kimberly’s funny and personal tales. Dark also offers five suggestions that can help anyone develop greater personal sovereignty and start becoming a more vibrant participant in life.
Do you sometimes not discuss gender, race, class and sexual orientation because you’re afraid someone will feel bad, or you can’t find the right words? Or maybe, you’re afraid it just won’t be any fun. Despite our best intentions, when we don’t learn about one another’s perspectives and find ways to encourage everyone’s voice, diversity suffers. In this highly interactive workshop, you’ll learn to use organic opportunities and campus programming to develop real connections that prompt meaningful diversity in campus leadership.
Conflict resolution, avoidance and appreciation!
Kimberly’s been teaching groups about facilitation and conflict resolution for more than twenty years. In this highly interactive workshop, participants will learn how to avoid conflict when possible, embrace it when it comes, and gracefully resolve conflict when necessary. Conflict is an opportunity for change, after all. Learn to use conflict as a tool to bring your groups together, rather than drive them apart.
Games for Social Creators
Any time a topic feels like a chore, or individuals fear having difficult feelings – there's an opportunity for innovation. Most times, we just don't know how to transform work into play, fear into opportunity. In this workshop, Kimberly facilitates games and discusses how we think about groups, innovation and creating positive, inclusive culture. Depending on the number of participants in the group, games can draw from theatres, writing, organizational and community development, etc. The focus is on meaningful fun – and on preparing participants to take these games and strategies into their own social settings. Reconnecting with the voice, language and the body helps participants rediscover the pleasure of working together. Laughter and connection stimulate our brilliance. Everyone feels comfortable participating. (This is not a team-building nightmare!)
Video Demo: The Gayness: Love and Hate in America
Save Money and Build Community with a multiple day visit!
A three day visit can save you money, reduce the environmental impact of your programming and ensure greater impact for your programming. These are some popular three day packages that include Kimberly's amazing teaching and facilitation skills. Contact us to discuss your specific needs.
Option A: Teach the Students to Become the Show
Day One: Begin with the Performance of your choice
Day Two: Workshop on Spoken Word Performance
Day Three: Student Poetry Slam or Open Mic with Kimberly as emcee and "feature reader" and students as the stars of the show!
Option B: Learn to Move Audiences on Important Issues
Day One: Begin with the Performance of your choice
Day Two: Workshop on Observation and Perception: Tools for Creating Life
Day Three: Individual mentoring meetings with student groups (i.e. Women's Programming, GLBT groups, etc.) or additional classroom visits
Option C: Increase Learning and Leadership Diversity While Having Fun
Day One: Gender, Race and Money Lecture
Day Two: Workshop on Popular Education: Tools for Community Engagement or Social Science and Performance: Blurring the Boundaries for Greater Impact
Day Three: Facilitated Planning to increase Leadership Diversity on your campus
Option D: Create your own residency or visit – just let us know what you'd like to cover…
Video Demo: Complicated Courtesies
Becoming the Subject of Your Own Story
(rather than the Object of Another's Gaze)
"The magic of this show lies in Dark's ability to send her pithy insights, enveloped as they are in gentle humor, straight to our hearts, the place where hope resides." – Dr. Linda Shaw, California State San Marcos
"I was deeply impressed by both your skills as a writer and as a performer. As a writer, you manage to craft intimate and intricate poetic narratives that never settle for the easy answers. You pull listeners in, lead them through fascinating turns and complications, so that they may come to understand the world more fully... I can't thank you enough for what you gave to our community and for spending several days with us. I know we are all the richer for the time you gave us." – Dr. Ron Pelias, Department of Speech Communication, SIU Carbondale
"...an innovative and highly original approach to a host of potentially contentious social issues, which are rarely addressed outside the college classroom. Seamlessly blending comedy and high seriousness, Dark immediately puts her audience ease and thereby engages them in a profound and honest conversation..." – Dr. Andrea Herrera, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Ethnic Studies Department
"Kimberly Dark is a superior story teller... She expertly blends teaching with entertaining and takes the audience into her story circle where we are welcomed and challenged!" – William J. Doan, PhD, Penn State University
"Dark doesn't shy away from provocative, even incindiary statements. But don't expect a rant. Her shows, leavened with humor, are more likely to explore how small everyday moments can inform the arc of our lives." – The Salt Lake Tribune
"Dark holds a delicate balance by showing the different social realities of men and women, bringing to light the conditions in which they are developed." – The Stylus, SUNY Brockport
"Dark is an exquisite tour guide for this heartfelt journey into the construction of the self." – Theatermania, Chicago
"The balance between objectivity and intimate anyalysis certainly gives Dark an edge, and has made her a force to be reckoned with on every level ... " – Evening Echo, Cork, Ireland
"Kimberly Dark, through her work, creates, or encourages the creation of, spaces where women’s lived experiences are valued... I want my daughter’s teachers, and every child’s teachers, to think about who they are as educators, to think about what kind of educators they want to be. Kimberly Dark helps with that process of thinking through identity, and about how our choices affect others." – Kings County Register, Nova Scotia Canada
"The audience seemed to relate to Dark's stories with enthusiastic laughter and inspired statements. Dark incorporated the crowd's comments and questions during the performance itself and during the question and answer period... Kimberly’s performative social science work is engaging and educative. She creates spaces for conversations to happen..." – The Athenaeum, Wolfville, Nova Scotia