Kaha:wi Dance Theatre sets world premiere of Blood Tides

CATHARINES — The world premiere of the highly anticipated performance Blood Tides will be reaching the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (FOPAC) in the Robertson Theatre this week from May 3 – 5.

The performance was conceived by Santee Smith and was overseen by many cultural collaborators and cultural advisors from Canada, the United States and New Zealand including Ngahuia Murphy and Mohawk Clanmother Louise McDonald.

“It is a performance that really calls for the re-awakening and the restoring of the indigenous women perspective,” said Smith. “It’s international; so there’s Zapotec, Maori, Fijian, and Turtle Island Nations that are involved with the project and it’s the second piece of a triptych.”

As part of the triptych, the piece is a the follow-up work to Re-Quickening which recently showcased at the 2017 Celebration of Nations at the FOPAC.

Smith explained that the powerhouse team of collaborators and advisors created an interdisciplinary and inter-cultural performance that is suggested to be a timely, contemporary performance as the world now struggles with the power imbalance between masculine and feminine.

“I’ve been involved with this kind of research for a while, and learning and sharing with different women through discussions but also in the creative process,” she said. “[So in the piece] we go through a series of scenes where four women are represented.”

Smith explained that each of the four women represent a different stage of womanhood and each hold different spiritual experiences. The performance is also regarded as a retrieval of feminine knowledge including the restoration of the rites of passage, songs and dance of the underworld, woman as creator, cosmos and potentiality.

This made the collaboration with other women, including Murphy all the more important.

“A few years ago somebody gave a copy of my book [Te Wa Atua: Menstruation in the Pre-Colonial Maori Woman] to Santee,” said Murphy. “She contacted me and said that she loved the book, loved my research and that she would like to make a work based on it. And Blood Tides is a term that I use in the book, so over the last two years we’ve been collaborating.”

Each of the experiences were carved from different cultural and spiritual beliefs, making the performance powerful, but also ceremonial in itself.

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