I want to introduce you this week to Kat Hughes, who is not only an incredible dancer but also someone who brings joy to every person she touches. She inspires me with her strong character and her passion for Jesus, for the arts, and for life. I only got to meet Kat once in person, when she came to my church to teach some dance workshops, but she left an impression on me not easily forgotten. Read on if you need any encouragement in your artistic journey—Kat has a lot of great insight to share that you won’t want to miss.
What is your current project or gig?
I am currently a part of Cantinas Dance Project under the Cantinas Arts Foundation and also very much involved still with Word In Motion Dance Company. I have been with them for the last 10 years.
When and how did you first know you wanted to be a dancer?
I was 4 years old. I asked my parents to take me to a dance class. I’m pretty sure I was around 6-7 years old when I knew in my heart that dancing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What are your near and future goals for your dance career?
My consistent goal is longevity. I want to dance for as long as I can. I stay healthy, I warm up properly, I cool down, I take care of my body and most of all, I make sure that I am also healthy spiritually. Being healthy physically is one thing but being spiritually healthy is another. I always check my heart, make sure that there are no bitter roots forming, no unforgiveness, and nothing that will bog my mind down and cause depression or anger.
Have you ever felt like giving up? And what got you through that?
Yes. I think what got me through it is fully believing that I am unique. That there is only one of me and I have very specific skill sets, tools, and gifts that God has placed inside of me that only I can do. There are specific people groups and specific circles of friends that I am to impact, and if I give up then who will reach them? Knowing my worth in God makes me wake up every day with a purpose and a passion to keep going.
What other kinds of art or artists do you draw inspiration from? Any specific examples?
I love all kinds of art forms. Right now, I am so inspired by my husband who hadn’t painted in over 15 years. One night, we were worshipping, and after that he said, “I want to paint.” He took off, bought about 50 canvases and has been painting every day since then. Our house is filled with art work; I don’t even know what to do with it all. We donated a bunch to a non-profit event for an auction but we still have more since he’s been painting every day. I love that one day he just said he’ll get back to it, and he did. He made a choice and jumped on it and has been creating every day since then.
How do you usually get past creativity blocks?
I stop creating when I have a block. I don’t force it to come out. I either do something else, like clean the house, cook, read an article, worship; whatever it is—I just do something else. Then I go back to it. Usually I’m always refreshed after taking a break and stepping back from it.
When you approach a new piece, whether it’s something you’re learning or a dance you’re choreographing yourself, what does your creative process entail?
If it’s something I’m learning, I’m always watching with eagle eyes… I love paying attention to detail. I cling onto the mindset that I can do it. If something is hard and I’m struggling, I make a mental confession inside as I’m learning it that yes I can yes I can yes I can. I have everything inside of me and I am fully equipped to do everything which that particular moment is demanding out of me. If it’s something I’m choreographing, I’m usually always driven by the music. I always start with the music and allow myself to really be immersed in it, and then from there, I’m able to visualize what I want to do.
What is one of your favorite experiences as a dancer?
Every time someone tells me that my dance/choreography changed their life. I’ve been teaching annually for the past 6 years at a summer intensive up in Northern California, and seeing them improve, seeing them grow not just in their dance but spiritually, because of what God has put inside of me for me to teach them, is the best experience I could ever ask for.
What is it that you find beautiful in this world?
Smiles. I love watching people smile. I think it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. A simple smile makes my day brighter. I love seeing strangers smile to one another, acknowledging each other even for a moment.
If a young, aspiring dancer came up to you and asked you for advice, what would be the first thing you’d tell them?
Know your worth. If you don’t know your worth and who you are, you will bend and agree to whatever everyone says you are. The arts and media have a way of telling you who you are, and if you don’t already know, you will be like a ship in a storm that is tossed around back and forth. Intimacy with Jesus is the best way to know your worth. When you know that you know that you know that you know that you are loved and you have a Father who says you are a royal priesthood, set apart for good works and to set the captives free, to give joy to the broken hearted, there is no room for people to convince you any other way.
What is one of the most important things you’ve learned in your experiences in the dance industry?
That success is very relative and it doesn’t really matter. What matters are the relationships that you form and establish with people. At the end of the day, I don’t care what jobs I get, I just want people’s hearts to be drawn to God’s love that is in me.
How have you overcome or combated feelings of insecurity or doubt in your art?
I battle it with God’s joy. He said his joy is my strength. I’m realizing more and more that when I cling to joy and make a stand that I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, I am less worried about what I look like or what I create and more focused on having fun.
How do you think comparison and competition affect the dance community, and what, in your opinion, can artists do to keep their passion alive in the midst of the pressure?
Comparison and competition are seriously like death. The moment you compare and compete is like activating a ticking time bomb. You will burst and burn out and won’t be able to fulfill your full capacity for what you’ve been created to do. I think that love is the best antidote for this. If we truly love each other and see everyone as created and appointed by God, then there’s no reason for us to compare ourselves with another person. If we love them just as God loves them, then we will see that every single person has a specific purpose and there is space on this earth for all of us to fully grow into everything we are to be.
What kind of change do you hope to bring about through your dancing?
My hope is that my dancing will break the chains from those who are depressed and oppressed. I want my dancing to bring joy and healing. When I dance, I pray that people who see it are encouraged; and even if they don’t believe in Jesus, they will see that something is different in me and God’s faithfulness will reveal Jesus to them.
What would your superpower be and why?
The power to encourage in very specific ways. I guess it would be prophetic. I want to have specific prophetic words for people that edify and encourage them and confirm who they are in God. A word of encouragement is powerful, but when it is specific and cuts to the heart, it makes God so undeniably real. I want the superpower that makes God so real to people. 🙂
More about Kat:
Kat was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a dance career shortly after she graduated college, majoring in Psychology and Communications. She immediately joined the professional scholarship program at EDGE Performing Arts Center, and soon after that began working in the dance industry. She has done various music videos, commercials and print ads for Pepsi, K-Swiss, Aya Salon; TV shows and stage shows for CBS, VHI, Myo Dance Company, Ray Pierce Illusions, the El Capitan Theatre, Aerial Experience Productions; and various industrials for L’Oreal, Axe and Arena Swimwear.
She is a member of Word in Motion Dance Company, whose mission is to disciple a nation of dancers for Christ and is also the Program Director for RISE Beyond, a non-profit after school arts program that caters to elementary school kids in Los Angeles.
Her recent credits include the World Expo in Yeosu Korea, dancing as the lead character in Samsung’s multi-media presentation, aerialist for Music on Ice in Bellinzona, Switzerland, playing the role of “Magic Carpet” for Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at Disney California Adventure, and being a part of Cantinas Dance Project, dancing for the World Dance Awards, Dance Palooza and the Dove Awards.