OHSWEKEN – Already putting the Dajoh building to task and partnering with Six Nations Ohero:kon Youth Rites of Passage and McMaster University Indigenous Studies, the Kaha:wi Dance Theatre presented a song and dance sharing circle within the Dajoh Youth and Elders Building on Thursday, November 3.
Attracting a crowd of youth, the circle provided a fun dance warm up headed by Artistic Director Santee Smith as well as a vocal warm up before many in the group were given the opportunity to sing.
Alongside Smith, guests to the circle included Singer Pura Fe from North Carolina who helped with vocal warm ups, and Cellist Cris Derkson who played contemporary cello to dance to. Smith said the experience was “great.”
“Being a part and connecting with Ohero:kon has been really great,” said Smith. “I’ve been working Louise McDonald, Amber Skye and Dawn Martin-Hill, and being able to connect with people that have [gone through the program] and share stories and songs and experiences has been really more about the exchange and learning about each other. So, I think when I come to work on projects I’m always learning, I’m a life-long learner and I really enjoy that so it was nice to connect with everybody,” she said.
Alongside Smith, both Fe and Derkson are also collaborating on a project called “Blood Ties” to make contemporary music as a group. The project name is inspired by the rites of passage for women, as well as the duties of women.
“We’re creating music for it right now as well,” said Smith. “We just spent the four days working on music and being inspired by the title of the work.”
“A lot of what we do is about indigenous knowledge, and learning old knowledge but also creating in the new,” she said. “So, that’s kind of what we did tonight is talking about how we could use our creativity to retell our stories, or tell our stories from our perspective. And that’s really what I do as an artist is to be able to restory or rematriate. Which a lot of people are doing in reclaiming their femininity and things that might have been lost or just under the surface and bringing those things back up that were more powerful.”
Along with providing a light dinner for participating guests, those present shared laughs, songs and much more by the end of the evening.