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Student anti-bullying play “Brave” gets professional help

SIX NATIONS – Internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer Santee Smith gave of her talent and time last Thursday to help drama teacher Julia Jamieson put some last minute touches on the anti-bullying play “I Wanna See You be Brave” before Tuesday night’s performance. The play is written and performed by the Grade 4 and 5 class of I.L. Thomas School, under the guidance and direction of Julia Jamieson.

SIX NATIONS – Internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer Santee Smith gave of her talent and time last Thursday to help drama teacher Julia Jamieson put some last minute touches on the anti-bullying play “I Wanna See You be Brave” before Tuesday night’s performance. The play is written and performed by the Grade 4 and 5 class of I.L. Thomas School, under the guidance and direction of Julia Jamieson. 

The cast of the anti-bullying play, “I Wanna See You Be Brave”, got a surprise visit last Thursday from world acclaimed Mohawk dancer and choreographer, Santee Smith, of Six Nations. The play, which includes music and dance as well, was written and performed by the Grade 4-5 class at I.L. Thomas School under direction of drama teacher Julia Jamieson. It will be performed Tuesday, June 17th, at I.L. Thomas School, at 6 pm. (Photos by Jim Windle)

The cast of the anti-bullying play, “I Wanna See You Be Brave”, got a surprise visit last Thursday from world acclaimed Mohawk dancer and choreographer, Santee Smith, of Six Nations. The play, which includes music and dance as well, was written and performed by the Grade 4-5 class at I.L. Thomas School under direction of drama teacher Julia Jamieson. It will be performed Tuesday, June 17th, at I.L. Thomas School, at 6 pm. (Photos by Jim Windle)

Jamieson, a dancer and choreographer in her own right, asked Smith if she would come in and help get the play ready.

Smith, who was back home at Six Nations getting ready for her Kaha:wi Dance Theatre troop’s highly acclaimed production of “The Honouring”, which was performed this past Friday and Saturday nights at Chiefswood Park, was pleased to do so.

Thursday, Smith watched portions of “Brave” and helped with the young actors’ stage movement. There was also a lively time of questions and answers from the young actors.

“How do you feel when you dance?” one student asked.

“The idea is to become part of the story,” Smith answered. “When I dance, I am not Santee, I am whoever it is I am portraying at the time.”

Another question from the students asked what was her inspiration to start dancing, which Smith answered, quite candidly, that at first, it was therapy.

“I was in a car accident when I was very young and broke my femur and ankle,” she said. “I had to learn how to walk all over again and my parents enrolled me in ballet to help strengthen my legs.”

But she took it as more than just therapy. Smith really took to it immediately and attributes that experience as where it all began for her.

“Music and dance are just part of being human,” she told her young audience. “When you hear music, you just have to respond and move some part of your body to it. It is also very important to our culture.”
Smith led the students through a series of warm up exercises to loosen up their bodies and get them ready to perform. Then she suggested a few minor movement changes which would help the story be told a little clearer, which Jamieson and the young actors were thrilled with.

At the end of their session together, a student asked Santee to dance for them, which she was pleased to do.

“I love working with kids,” said Smith. “I teach workshops and we run our own programs as well for youth with a “Performance Camp,” and a “Pow wow Boot Camp.” It’s a great way to help young people get creative and physical as well, working with their bodies.”

A few months ago, when the students first started rehearsals for “Brave” there was still a lot of shyness in some of the actors, but Jamieson has successfully brought many of the cast out of their shyness and into a more confident state where they want to be on stage.

Smith was very impressed with the work these students have done and their dedication to the play as well as to the anti-bullying message it brings.

“This group is really great, with what they showed me today and how much energy the have,” said Smith. “They sure don’t seem shy, and that’s really good. Everybody was just shining.”

Jamieson is very proud of the change she has seen in the students since starting on the play.

“It has been such a growth experience for everyone, not just the performers but the technical support group as well,” she said. “They have done something completely out of their comfort zones.”

“I Wanna See You Be Brave” written and performed by the Grade 4-5 students of I.L. Thomas, will be performed for the public, at 6pm on Tuesday evening, June 17th, at I.L. Thomas Gym.

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Jim Windle

Jim Windle

Jim Windle is a veteran news and sports reporter who has been published in a number of mediums and publications. contact Jim: windlejim@rocketmail.com

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