Santee Smith: “Land, Body, and Spirit”

Native Earth’s annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 is not just about new written work, but also explores new movement pieces. This year we’re thrilled to have Santee Smith, award-winning choreographer, dancer, and the founding Artistic Director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre join us.

Santee Smith, who had her theatrical debut with Native Earth Performing Arts in Baby Blues by Drew Hayden Taylor at Theatre Passe Muraille in 1997, joins us in the second week of the festival to share her newest work.

“Being a part of Weesageechak Begins to Dance allows my dreaming to be a part of the imaginative weaving of new Indigenous performance, and to be included in the collective voice that emanates from our land, body, and spirit.”

Smith will be showcasing a glimpse at her piece, Re-Quickening, which examines Indigenous women’s issues and rejuvenates the seeds of feminine power. “It explores how to awaken, restore, and reconnect the powerful and sacred spaces within Konkwehón:we (women),” says Smith. “How can we re-quicken the essential intact feminine?”

“Imaginative weaving of new Indigenous performance”

Smith’s dance journey began early, attending Canada’s National Ballet School. She holds Kinesiology and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and an M.A in Dance from York University, and produced her first choreography, Kaha:wi in 2004, before going on to found Kaha:wi Dance Theatre. Smith performs internationally and was a recent recipient of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Choreography in the Dance Division.

Smith’s artistic work speaks about identity and humanity, and feels at home in the Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival. “Weesageechak opens space to dream, to learn, and to experience. Audiences become a witness to the visioning process that celebrates Indigenous voice and story.”

Smith is celebrating ten years of creating and producing dance performance as the founding Artistic Director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT). Smith will be keeping busy with this year’s KDT season, which is packed including their national tenth anniversary tour of TransMigration, Pan Am’s Panamania commission of sport/dance fusion Tkaronto Bounce, touring of NeoIndigenA; Powwow Boot Camps and more.

Some bits and bobs about Santee Smith

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do? Train, be a life-long learner and work/play with passion. Open your heart and spirit to the creative force and boldly pursue your vision. Be thankful and acknowledge your gifts everyday.

Describe your ideal environment for creating.
Working in a movement based art practice, my ideal environment would be an open, activated, supported and inspired space such as a calm studio or outdoors in the natural world and to be working with artists that are receptive and generous.

What are you thinking right before you begin a play?
I invite myself to dance in the place between worlds, move amidst the seen and unseen, channeling dreams and visioning. Visioning unfolds when my thinking mind slips sideways, so I try to bypass the thoughts and access creative energies. The night before I start rehearsal, I can’t sleep, like it’s the first day of school.

Where is your favorite place to be?
Travelling the world with my daughter, basically anywhere close to my girl. Our favorite place is Kyoto, Japan.

The one word your best friend would use to describe you?

Thanks Santee!

Read about fellow Dancers:
Starr Murkanko, Brian Solomon, & Justin Many Fingers

You can catch Re-Quickening on Friday, Nov 21st @ 7:30pm.
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