Public Energy Performing Arts announced its 30th anniversary season on Wednesday (September 20) at a media event at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre in downtown Peterborough, featuring a dramatic aerial dance performance from visiting artist Diana Lopez Soto whose completed work will be presented at the venue next April.
Soto’s work Nomada is being developed through a two-week residency at the Market Hall with Public Energy, which has partnered with some of Canada’s most prestigious dance presenters to commission this new work, including Canadian Stage and Danceworks in Toronto and the PuSh Festival in Vancouver. Nine years in the making, the finished work will be on tour in Canada later this season and will be performed at the Market Hall on April 5 as the penultimate event in Public Energy’s 2023-24 season.
According to Public Energy’s executive director Bill Kimball and managing director Eva Fisher, a theme running through much of the 2023-24 season sees artists using dance and song to heighten awareness of the importance of our connection to the land.
Public Energy’s history is rooted in Peterborough New Dance, an organization founded in 1994 that inherited a discontinued dance presenting program operated by Peterborough’s artist-run centre Artspace. Supporting both new and existing work from independent choreographers, Peterborough New Dance’s founding director was Kimball, who had curated Artspace’s dance program from 1980 to 1994. In 2001, Peterborough New Dance became incorporated as a charitable organization under the name Peterborough New Dance and Performance.
In 2003, Peterborough New Dance adopted a second name, Public Energy, under which it expanded the organization’s activities beyond dance into related disciplines of contemporary theatre and performance. The second name came from an early mandate adopted by the Peterborough New Dance to “create a kind of public energy around the presentation, creation, and touring of contemporary dance.”
The words “Performing Arts” were added to Public Energy’s name in the 2019-20 season to reinforce the multi-arts mandate and alleviate ongoing confusion among some members of the public that the organization was a utility company.
Over the past 30 years, Public Energy Performing Arts has worked with more than 2,000 artists — including dancers, actors, choreographers, directors, designers, visual artists, filmmakers, sound artists, writers, and theatre technicians — and mounted more than 500 shows, classes, workshops, talks and other events seen by over 50,000 audience members and participants. A significant portion of Public Energy’s programming is with Indigenous artists, with the organization taking both a local and provincial lead in Indigenous arts programming.
Running from November until April, Public Energy’s 30th anniversary season showcases the best of the world of dance, theatre, and performance, including projects with connections to Norway and Mexico, as well as two artists with strong local connections (Jon Hedderwick and Charlie Petch). This year, Public Energy is also deepening its partnership with Trent University’s Nozhem First Peoples’ Performance Space, which continues to attract some of the country’s best Indigenous artists.
Below is a list of the performances for the 2023-24 season. Advance tickets for all performances are available via the Public Energy Performing Arts website at publicenergy.ca.
Zaagi’idiwin: Our Mothering Heart (November 3 and 4)
From Vancouver’s contemporary Indigenous performance company O.Dela Arts, Zaagi’idiwin: Our Mothering Heart includes three performances that together run for around 50 minutes.
“Journals of adoption,” a solo created and performed by Sophie Dow, extends a choreographic exploration through two journals of origin: one text from Sophie’s birth mother’s experience of pregnancy and process of offering her up; the other text from Sophie’s own reflections, queries and rumination as an adopted child.
“Slip away,” a solo created and performed by Samantha Sutherland, explores themes of loss and hope relating to the endangered state of the Ktunaxa language, shares accounts of the current efforts toward preservation of the endangered language, and showcases dreams of how it may continue enlivened in the future.
“Rematriate XX23,” a new work in development by Olivia C. Davies, is conceived as a love letter for the experience of motherhood, honouring the one who carries us in her womb, nurturing and nourishing, and who will live forever in our hearts.
Zaagi’idiwin: Our Mothering Heart will be performed at Nozhem: First Peoples’ Performance Space (Room 101, Enwayaang Building, 1 Gzowski Way, Peterborough) at 7 p.m. on November 3 and 4 with a 3 p.m. matinee performance on November 4. Tickets are sold on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale from $5 to $25.
Bubie’s Tapes (January 17 to 21)
While preparing a pot of matzo ball soup for his daughter, Peterborough spoken word artist Jon Hedderwick recounts personal and family experiences from the Russian Revolution, through the Holocaust and beyond, as told by his Bubie Sarah in cassette tape recordings she left behind.
Through these stories, Bubie’s Tapes reveals much about the history and ongoing impacts of antisemitism in Canada and around the world.
Bubie’s Tapes will be performed at The Theatre on King (171 King St, Peterborough) at 8 p.m. from January 17 to 20 with a 2 p.m. matinee performance on January 21. Tickets are sold on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale from $5 to $25. All shows will be presented as relaxed performances, with ASL interpretation to be available for one of the performances (to be announced).
Vástádus Eana – The Answer is Land (March 3)
From Norwegian choreographer Elle Sofe Sara, Vástádus Eana – The Answer is Land is a 90-minute performance about community and kinship between people, with nature, and with the land we all share. The choreography is inspired by demonstrations, spiritual practices of the Sámi people in northern Europe, and formation dance.
“Seven black-clad women, fists raised, brandish megaphones above their heads, in front of Esplanade Tranquille,” reads a description of the performance. “They start dancing to ask the land for permission to gather on it. Then, walking with heads held high, they lead the audience into the depths of the theatre for Vástádus eana: a galvanizing choreographed concert that amplifies the long-repressed voices of the Sámi people.”
“Through their polyphonic chants and their movements, the performers draw us into an a cappella story of resistance and healing. Their voices are rooted in joik, the captivating Sámi music sung while travelling across the land. Embodying memory, they celebrate the alliances between all living creatures and the land, between nature and the community. Inspired by socio-ecological movements and Sámi spirituality, this hymn pays tribute to all those who fight injustice.”
Vástádus Eana – The Answer is Land will be performed at 2 p.m. on March 3 at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (140 Charlotte Street, Peterborough). As the description implies, the performance will begin outdoors, at an accessible location very near the theatre to be determined (guides will be on hand to provide assistance). Tickets are sold on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale from $10 to $20.
Izzie M: The Alchemy of Enfreakment (March 8 and 9)
From Indigenous artist collective Chocolate Woman Collective in Toronto, Izzie M: The Alchemy of Enfreakment uses the circus freak show as an allegory to examine the tension between the sacred and the profane and the ways in which things that are sacred in Indigenous societies became profaned for entertainment and profit.
This theme also relates to the underlying structure of Indigenous effigy mounds and earthworks, because some of them were not only brutally excavated and looted but also used as race tracks and amusements parks.
Formerly known as Side Show Freaks & Circus Injuns, Izzie M: The Alchemy of Enfreakment was created by Chocolate Woman Collective founder Monique Mojica (Guna and Rappahannock) and features Mojica and Barry Bilinsky (Metis/Cree). It will be performed at Nozhem: First Peoples’ Performance Space (Room 101, Enwayaang Building, 1 Gzowski Way, Peterborough) at 7 p.m. on March 8 and 9, with tickets sold on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale from $5 to $25.
Nomada (April 5)
Created and performed by Mexican-Canadian artist Diana Lopez Soto, Nomada is a solo performance that brings together aerial dance, rigging design, installation art, and contemporary Mexican dance.
Representing a journey inspired by personal stories of displacement, rituals of water, cycles of sustainability, and the connections of our bodies to land, Nomada is the result of extensive collaboration with some of Canada’s most talented composers, designers, and projection artists, as well as family and knowledge keepers from the community of Michoacan, Mexico.
Nomada is supported by the CanDance Network commissioning program with five presenters across Canada taking part, including Peterborough’s Public Energy Performing Arts, Toronto’s Canadian Stage and Danceworks, Nanaimo’s Crimson Coast Dance Society, and Vancouver’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.
Nomada will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on April 5 at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (140 Charlotte Street, Peterborough). Tickets are sold on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale from $10 to $20.
No One’s Special at the Hot Dog Cart (April 24)
Written and performed by award-winning playwright, author, and spoken word performer Charlie Petch, No One’s Special at the Hot Dog Cart tells true stories from their past as a 911 operator, hospital bed allocator, emergency room clerk, and street worker.
Directed by Adam Lazarus and supported by dramaturg Donna Michelle St. Bernard, No One’s Special at the Hot Dog Cart is filled with busking performance, novelty instruments, clown, tragicomedy, lessons in de-escalation technique, and a deep appreciation of street communities.
No One’s Special at the Hot Dog Cart will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on April 24 at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (140 Charlotte Street, Peterborough). Tickets are sold on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale from $5 to $25.
kawarthaNOW is proud to be a long-time media sponsor of Public Energy Performing Arts.