Public Energy Performing Arts in Peterborough-Nogojiwanong is kicking off its 30th anniversary season in November with works by three important female Indigenous choreographers from one of Canada’s premiere producers of contemporary Indigenous dance.
Founded in 2018 by artistic director and choreographer Olivia C. Davies, Vancouver-based O.Dela Arts will present Zaagi’idiwin: Our Mothering Heart on November 3 and 4 at Nozhem First People’s Performance Space at Trent University. The program features works by three dance artists: Sophie Dow, Samantha Sutherland, and Davies herself.
All three artists are leading figures in the world of contemporary dance in Canada, with their works presented Canada at numerous festivals and stages, including the National Arts Centre, where their unique festival of female choreographers called Matriarchs Uprising was presented earlier this year. O.Dela Arts and the Matriarchs Uprising festival are both based on the unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Watauth First Nations in Vancouver.
Presented by Public Energy and Nozhem First People’s Performance Space, Zaagi’idiwin: Our Mothering Heart is described as “weaving powerful stories of love and loss, and revealing matriarchal legacies coursing through blood memory and the living body.”
One of the sacred Seven Grandfather Teachings of the Anishinaabe people that demonstrate what it means to live a good life, “zaagi’idiwin” is loosely translated as meaning unconditional and mutual love. Zaagi’idiwin: Our Mothering Heart includes Dow’s “Journals of adoption,” Sutherland’s “Slip away,” and Davies’ “Rematriate XX23.”
Choreographed and performed by Dow, “Journals of adoption” is sourced from two journals of origin. One text is from Dow’s birth mother Caroline C., about her experience of pregnancy and the process of offering Dow up for adoption. The other text is Dow’s own reflections, queries, and rumination as an adopted child.
VIDEO: “Journals of adoption” trailer
Created and performed by Sutherland, “Slip away” explores themes of loss and hope relating to the endangered state of the language of the Ktunaxa people, who have occupied the lands adjacent to the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers and the Arrow Lakes of British Columbia for many thousands of years. In 2012, Indigenous scholar Christopher Horsethief found only 24 fluent speakers of the Ktunaxa language remain, and all are over the age of 65.
VIDEO: “Slip away” excerpt
Choreographed by Davies and performed by Sutherland, “Rematriate XX23” seeks to articulate potential pathways to peace and presence that are grounded in contemporary Indigenous feminism, in response to the systems that hold society hostage to continual technological advancement and an ever-growing disconnection to reality. Rematriation is work led by Indigenous women to restore sacred relationships between Indigenous people and their ancestral land, honouring their matrilineal societies, and opposing patriarchal violence and dynamics.
VIDEO: “Rematriate XX23” trailer
Performances of Zaagi’idiwin: Our Mothering Heart will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee performance on Saturday, at Nozhem First People’s Performance Space located in the Enwayaang Building at 1 Gzowski Way on Trent University’s Symons Campus.
Admission to each performance is on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale from $5 to $25, with cash only at the door. To reserve a spot for one of the three performances, visit www.eventbrite.ca/e/722194492167.
Public Energy’s 30th anniversary season continues in January with spoken word artist Jon Hedderwick’s Bubie’s Tapes at The Theatre on King. For more information about the 2023-24 season, visit publicenergy.ca/performance-season/2023-2024/.
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