Justin Many Fingers: “Close to Home”

The penultimate night of Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 puts the spotlight on dancers, both emerging and established. Dancing in this spotlight is three-time festival participant Justin Many Fingers, a singer, actor and dancer from Lavern Kainai Blackfoot reserve, in Southern Alberta.

Justin ManyFingers 2Graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Justin Many Fingers also attended the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Dance Residence, Toronto Dance Theatre’s Summer Intensive and Kahawi Dance Theatre’s training program. Many Fingers returns to the festival time and again because he believes Weesageechak is one of the few festivals that inspire Native works in dance or theatre in Canada.

“Native Earth hounds in on the new work that will become additions to the Native cannon. They give the tools for artists to show or create their ideas, and help give a strong foundation to new works so that it can one day be fully produced.”

This year, Many Fingers is collaborating with Brian Solomon on a new, very personal movement piece, called What’s Left of Us. “Growing up in life, my left hand was never discussed or mentioned, it just was. In my second year at Centre for Indigenous Theatre, I worked on a show with Muriel Miguel and my character was based on my left hand. So many things came up as I was artistically exploring, that never left when the show ended,” says Many Fingers.

So many things came up as I was artistically exploring, that never left when the show ended.

The story returned to Many Fingers during his time in the Soulpepper Academy, and again a year later. “I was laying in bed and I said ‘Ok Justin, we are going to make a show about our left hand.’ I knew I needed to create this with someone, and I immediately thought of Brian Solomon. He made my time at School of Toronto Dance Theatre a lot easier and less awkward because he found a way to dance with his left hand. The time we have spent so far in the studio rehearsing, leading up to our night in the festival, has been amazing. And the depths we went to in physically and emotionally exploring… I  am very excited to present our first ideas on stage of What’s Left Of Us.

Justin has trained in numerous dance styles with Jock Sotto (American Ballet), Neil Leremia (Black Grace), Santee Smith (Kahawi), as well as Bill Coleman, Penny Couchie, Troy Emery Twigg, Alejandro Ronceria and Amanda Chaboyer. Select credits: Red Romance (dir. Muriel Miguel), Red Moon(dir. Marion de Vries), Coyote City (dir. Rose Stella), Potato Foot (dir. Imelda Villalon).

Some bits and bobs from Justin ManyFingers

Why Weesageechak Begins to Dance?
The work brought in by the artists is so diverse that it shows you a pallet of what’s cooking in the world of Indigenous arts.

What will audiences get out of the festival?
It may be Native but it’s a part of us all,
so come see a story that is close to home.

Thanks Justin!

Read about fellow Dancers:
Santee Smith, Starr Murkanko, & Brian Solomon

You can catch What’s Left of Us on
Friday, Nov 21st @ 7:30pm.
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