Category Archives: 2018/2019 Season

Maura García: How do we honour our ancestors?

We are thrilled to welcome Kansas-based choreographer and dancer Maura García (non-enrolled Cherokee/Mattamuskeet) to the festival with her latest work They Are Still Talking, a 4-part homage to our connections to our ancestors through air, gesture, intergenerational trauma, and laughter.

They Are Still Talking emerges from the idea that our bodies are formed from our ancestors’ good and flesh. When we are speaking and moving, they are also reactivated and brought to life. We are never alone. So how do we honour them? Are we puppets reliving past lives? Where does what is uniquely ours begin? And does that matter?

Previously developed during an artist residency at Lawrence Arts Center, García collaborates with Odawa puppeteer Lindy Kinoshameg, musicians Mark Gabriel Little, Adrian Dion Harjo, and Amado Espinoza, and costume designer Mona Cliff to conjure an innovative multimedia dance performance. “My previous work dealt with planting and the season. This new piece is a little more human focused, but still contains the element of cyclical movement.”

García believes the opportunity will allow her to really delve into the subject matter and aesthetics. “It is a fertile ground for creation and presentation of contemporary Indigenous works, and I believe it will allow for this piece to grow significantly.”

“I hope the audience will talk more with their elders after seeing the performance. Find out more. Research their own families and nations. Reflect more about the connection we have to our ancestors, not just from 300 years ago, but the longer legacy of non-traumatized ancestors from 530 years, 1000 years, 3000 years ago…I hope it will inspire them to reflect on the circular time that is the creation and what their role may be.”

Catch Maura García Dance’s They Are Still Talking on Thursday, November 15th!

More about Maura García

What piece are you looking forward to seeing at W31?
Very hard question! I am looking forward to it all! I am particularly excited about other dance pieces, including Gashkigwaaso by Waawaate Fobister and In The Abyss by Aria Evans.

Who is your Indigenous role model? How do they inspire you?
They have both passed on: Benny Smith and Mitty James.

The former was my mentor who taught me how to pray in my language and so many other traditional ways. The latter showed me what it means to be strong, gracious, and loving Giduwagi woman despite hardships.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
The moon, the sun birds, people walking around, children doing weird child-like things, the movement of everyday actions or work, ceremony, water.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Wait for the grant officer or theatre rep to reject you – don’t reject yourself!

Do you have any advice for young Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Be kind. Be firm. Take care of your body. Keep your ceremonies. Visit your people. Do not give up and remember the art world is very small.

What are you craving right now?
Dramaturgy. Comraderies. Lively and accessible Indigenous performing arts community.

What is coming up next for you?

Learn more about Maura García Dance here.

Header image, second photo by Jenny Wheat

Aria Evans: What do all human beings have in common?

Following the presentation of her solo dance piece link, which was developed at Animikiig Creators Unit, choreographer and dancer Aria Evans (Mi’kmaq/Black/settler heritage) returns to Weesageechak Begins to Dance with an excerpt of her first full length work, In The Abyss.

Interested in exploring the common ground between experiences across difference, Evans started researching what all human beings have in common and stumbled across the scientific fact and the beautiful metaphor that we are all made of stardust. This idea catapulted the work forward, as artists of various backgrounds, including Irwin Chow, Jesse Dell, Ana Groppler, Syreeta Hector and David Norsworthy, came together to offer their lived experiences in the creative process. “I love finding the metaphors in life that can be represented in the body,” and this collaborative piece is an example of Evans’ ongoing experiment.

“Native Earth has always been a supportive hub for my work. I value the community that surrounds this festival and the artists coming together to support works-in-development. I am at the beginning stages of my research for In The Abyss and am grateful for the opportunity to experiment with the support of a mentor and an audience.”

“This piece is exploring relationships and the struggles we face to find connections. I want audiences to be able to see parts of themselves in the material that is being portrayed and maybe learn something about themselves along the way.”

Don’t miss Aria Evans’ In The Abyss on Thursday November 15th!

More about Aria Evans

What piece are you looking forward to seeing at W31?
I am really looking forward to seeing The Properties of Spirit by Jessica Lea Fleming. I have worked with her in many capacities but never seen her creative work.

Who is your Indigenous role model? How do they inspire you?
I have many role models. Right now, I am particularly inspired by my Indigenous peers who are breaking conventions and finding new ways to tell our stories as Indigenous peoples. Some of these artists include: Yolanda Bonnell, Natalie Sappier, and Jeremy Dutcher.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You are enough.

Do you have any advice for young Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Try things. Collaborate with your peers. Ask for support. There are people around you who see you and want you to succeed.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
Our existence is political, therefore our art is going to be political – just accept it and keep making art!

What does art mean to you?
Art is how I express myself and how I relate to the world. Without it, I would have no joy or drive. Art is a way of life that I will never stop living.

What are you craving right now?
I am craving for more open conversations around access vs. privilege.

What is coming up next for you?
I am working towards the presentation of In The Abyss this time next year. It feels like a luxury to have such an extended creative process, and I am basking in the glory of watching my ideas evolve and change.

Header image by Erica Cheah. Property of Dance Umbrella of Ontario