Jasmin Sheppard: No straight and easy answer.

If you family was denied its culture by the impact of colonization, what then makes you Aboriginal?

As a Tagalak and Kurtjar Aboriginal woman with Irish, Chinese and Hungarian ancestry, Jasmin Sheppard‘s newest creation, The Complications of Lyrebirdsexplores the impact of colonization and cultural suppression. Australia’s best-known native birds, lyrebirds have a superb ability to mimic the calls of other birds in order to appear more attractive. Using lyrebirds as a metaphor, Jasmin draws a parallel to the external pressures thrust upon Indigenous people to perform ‘blackness’, including adopting a certain way of talking and appearing. Her work speaks for people who are denied a voice and uncover an untold side of history.

Internationally acclaimed contemporary dancer and choreographer, Jasmin spent the last twelve years dancing for the renowned Australian company, Bangarra Dance Theatre, and earlier this year, completed a residency at the Campbelltown Arts Centre. Returning to Toronto after a riveting performance at Fall for Dance North Festival, we are delighted to have this award-winning artist at Weesageechak 32

Photo by Pati Solomon Tyrell

Don’t miss The Complications of Lyrebirds on November 22nd, alongside Seattled-based multi-disciplinary artist Dakota Camacho!


Learn more about Jasmin Sheppard

What inspired you to create the piece you’re bringing to Weesageechak 32?
As an artist who has spent the last 12 years with Australia’s premier Indigenous dance company, Bangarra Dance Theatre, I’ve been able to witness through the many people who have seen our work the expectation that is held on what makes a person a ‘true Aboriginal’.
With each of us coming from many different nations, backgrounds, family experience, it is clear that there is no straight and easy answer for us to provide white Australia. This work is a statement that says we don’t need to exemplify our Indigeneity.

Photo by Jeff Busby. Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Why is Weesageechak the right place to present your work?
I have had the opportunity to work and get to know many Indigenous Canadian artists, and I believe that our experiences share a great deal of likeness. My work will be supported and received with understanding by the community there in Toronto at Native Earth.

My work is still in its seed development stage, and to expose my creative process and a work in development will contribute to a stronger work by having its progress performed and shared.

What kind of reaction or effect do you want your piece to have to the audience?
For Indigenous audience: I hope to embed a sense of pride and self worth, despite personal histories or inter-generational trauma. For non-Indigenous audiences, I hope to shed some light on the historical experiences of First Nations Australians and create some understanding for the pressures that a lot of Indigenous people feel.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
In my cultural heritage. In the everyday simplicity that strikes me. In my body.

Who is your Indigenous role model? How do they inspire you?
My grandmother, Ivy, who has experienced an enormous amount of hardships and trauma, but whose beautiful, soft spirit has never bent to the harsh reality of being a fair skinned Aboriginal woman in Queensland.

Photo by Pati Solomon Tyrell

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t rely on motivation, it is fickle! Build self determination.

What are you craving right now?
Mangoes and Summer.


Friday November 22, 2019

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