Malia Burkhart is a Multidisciplinary Performance Artist, Singer-Songwriter, Earth Activist, Somatic Massage Therapist, and Arts-Educator. She lives, works, creates, and organizes in Minneapolis, MN.
Where I’m From:
I am mixed-race, with ancestors from Japan via Hawaii, and from England/Germany via Iowa farm-country. I was born in Minnesota and raised in Bloomington, MN. I went to Kennedy High School for two years. In 1992 I attended the Arts High School at the Perpich Center for Arts Education to study music composition and visual arts, and graduated in 1994. I attended St. Olaf College’s Paracollege program, a student-centered “parallel college”. I graduated in 1998 with a BA in Studio Arts and a Paracollege self-designed major in “Arts as Community Activism”.
Community Arts, Arts Education, and Puppetry Bio:
After a summer interning on Round River Farm in Finland, Minnesota, I moved to South Minneapolis in 1999. I joined Americorps, serving my first year at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. I served my second year in Americorps at Pillsbury House and Little Earth of United Tribes, working with youth in arts and education. From 2000-2010, I was an Associate Artist with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, and worked as a puppet-builder and performer in several mainstage productions, including the Invigorate the Common Well series, dealing with issues of water rights and our relationship to this precious resource. I was a MayDay Parade artist from 1999 – 2009. I am a member of Chicks on Sticks, an all-female professional stiltwalkers cooperative. I have also worked as an artist-coordinator and board member for Barebones Productions’ annual Halloween Extravaganza (1999 – 2009). In the past decade I’ve visited hundreds of schools, teaching K-12 residencies in puppetry and mask-making across the Twin Cities Metro Area and Greater Minnesota. I am on several artist-rosters for my work in education, including COMPAS, The Minnesota State Arts Board, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the East Side Arts Council. Visit my Arts Education page for more information.
International Puppetry and Parades:
In 2004, I worked as a volunteer English teacher, traveling around the world onboard the Peace Boat’s 47th Voyage. Onboard, with Japanese and Latino passengers, we created two puppet street-theater demonstrations, to raise awareness about Global Warming and calling for Chile’s pristine habitat in Patagonia to be declared a World Heritage Site, placing it out of the reach of bottled-water corporations. Other international work includes: 2005 Parade Artist for the Dream Parade in Shijr, Taiwan. 2001, an artist with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater’s production “Declaration of Peace” for the 2001 Madanguk Festival in South Korea.
My work in Performance Art is influenced by Butoh, Global SomaticsTM Process, Contact Improvisation, and Improvisation Movement Theater (aka “Moving Stories”), as well as my experiences in puppetry and mask-work. Past productions include The Survival Pages, BreatheLoveKnowRelate, and Remembering Rachel Corrie. I have been awarded several grants for my work from the Minnesota State Arts Board’s “Artist Initiative Grant” and the Jerome Foundation’s Naked Stages Program. My most recent project was “Sacred Garden 2016”, Directing, Producing, and Performing an outdoor Performance Art Experience centering the stories of women. This project was supported by a mid-career development grant by Forecast Public Art with funding through the McKnight Foundation. Video excerpts of my work can be found on my Performance Art page.
My arts-career has taken me overseas on several occasions, to study and live, as well as to produce and create. In 2001 I was awarded a grant via the Asian American Renaissance and the Jerome Foundation to study Butoh dance with Min Tanaka at the Bodyweather Farm in Yamanashi, Japan. To continue my studies in Butoh, and to connect with my Japanese heritage, I worked as an English teacher in Osaka, Japan, in 2002-2003, as an employee of Japan’s national JET Programme. I practiced and performed Butoh with Ken Mai and Bridget Satsuki, in Kyoto, Japan, as part of the dance troupe Azelea. In Minneapolis, I studied and performed Butoh Dance with Gadu Doushin (2009-2014).
Composing songs and improvising is a part of my everyday life. I have played piano since I was 8 years old. Beginning with a base in classical music theory, I went through a phase of learning jazz, as well as hand-percussion and African Rhythms, which influenced my piano-improvisations. I began collaborating with cellist, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Rachael Sarto in 2004, and we released a CD of improvistions in 2010. I picked up accordion in 2000, as a portable, non-electric alternative to the piano, and frequent sound-effect for my many puppet-shows. I began teaching myself how to play guitar in 1994, which led to the creation of many many songs! I consider myself to be in the category of “folk music”—simple songs, with catchy melodies and easy chord-progressions, that can be easily picked up and learned by others. My songwriting usually focuses on themes of caring for and connecting to the Earth, pro-peace & anti-war, love (of course), and non-religious expressions of connection to spirit and the voice of one’s own heart. I released my first solo-CD in 2011, “Humble and Receive”, with recordings of songs dating back to 2003. I am currently working on a second solo-CD, “River” (working title) with some of my newer work.
I graduated as a Global Somatics Practitioner in 2011, as a Somatic Massage and Movement Therapist. I practice massage therapy out of my home in South Minneapolis.
In February 2015 I completed my certification as an instructor in Eternal Spring Chi Kung from the CK Chu School of Tai Chi in New York City. I teach a weekly class in this form at the People’s Movement Center, a healing justice collective. Classes are every Tuesday from 6:30-7:30pm. (drop-ins welcome)
Visit my website at www.kochikara.com for more information.