43 Days: Kaha:wi Dance Theatre

Dec. 05, 2017






43 days until DanceWeekend 25th Anniversary Edition!

Today's featured company is Kaha:wi Dance Theatre! They will be performing on Saturday January 20 at 6:10pm.

Learn more about them:

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your company/collective/school?

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre explores the intersection of Indigenous and new performance through an interdisciplinary and Indigenous approach. Founded in 2005 by Artistic Director Santee Smith, Kaha:wi means “to carry” in the Kahnyen’kehàka (Mohawk) language and is a traditional name for Smith’s family. KDT is located on Six Nations of the Grand River and Toronto, ON.  www.kahawidance.org

2. What will you be showing at DanceWeekend?

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre will be showcasing an excerpt of work-in-progress choreography, Blood Tides. Artistically driven by Indigenous women, Blood Tides explores rites of passage, reconstruction of Indigenous feminine identity, power and sacredness. It is timely, as we move to balance out patriarchal effects on our lives, body and spirits.

3. Can you talk about your creative process? What inspires you?

My approach to performance is from an Konkwehon:we experience - Indigenous woman’s lens. It’s interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional, intergenerational, inter-cultural and spans ancestral to futurity while privileging Indigenous voices and bodies and advocating for works that re-claim, re-construct, re-story and honour Onkwehon:we epistemologies. The visions for my creations involve multi-layered symbolism sourced from land based exploration, dream world and Onkwehon:we metaphysical understandings and experience.

My creation process involves: thanksgiving, conversations; land based research; listening, acknowledging and responding to Ahwentathshera; exploring Indigenous Processes - pre-colonial understanding, belief and practice; rigorous research; unearthing and awakening knowledges; unlearning and shedding colonial indoctrinations. This process is both rewarding and challenging and is on-going, cumulative, multi-layered and voiced. Through my work, I aim to glean clearer sense of my own identity as an Indigenous woman - Konkwehon:we - as Tekaronhiáhkhwa.

I’m inspired by my ancestors whose resilience and creativity allowed them to maintain their culture, livelihood and spirituality during their earth walk. My grandmothers were powerful life-sustainers who continually inspire me to express my feminine spirit and uphold the Onkwehon:we matri-focal, matrilineal way of life. Both of my parents Leigh and Steve Smith were Native rights activists in the 60’s turned visual artists and spend their lives replicating our ancient iconography, symbols and stories. Like my ancestors, I seek to harmonize and beautifying the world.

4. Do you have any other up-coming performances/events you would like to share?

The premiere is Blood Tides will be on May 2-5, 2018 at the FirstON Performing Arts Centre in St. Catherines. In March 2018 the company will be touring our young audience performance Medicine Bear to the East Coast.

5. What is one thing you love most about your dance community?

It requires tremendous dedication to have a career as a dance artist. One thing I love about the dance community is that artists are so passionate and committed to their vision and making space for creativity.

6. What does performing at the 25th Annual DanceWeekend mean to you?

Returning to perform at DanceWeekend and for the 25th will be amazing and inspiring to share in the energy of celebrating dance. DanceWeekend is a great way to connect with others, offer a taste of one’s work and add a layer to the topography that is the landscape of the dance community.

7. What is one surprising/interesting fact about your company/collective/school?

Not surprising but interesting, KDT is actively involved with the international Indigenous performing arts network and produces Living Ritual - International Indigenous Performing Arts Festival.


Photo by: Semiah Smith