Posted September 18, 2017
In July 2017, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre produced Living Ritual, an International Indigenous Performing Arts Festival in order to "open a space to honour our interconnectivity and interdependence.” Santee Smith (Kaha:wi’s founding Artistic Director) invited artists from across Turtle Island (Canada, United States), Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Australia, to gather, celebrate and promote global Indigenous dance and theatre. I was fortunate to be able to attend, and I wrote these words in response:
We arrive at the water’s edge, the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky.
Ancient rites of greeting to start the day…do you come in peace? Do you come in good peace?
The woman who has brought us together, shares the voices of a younger generation. The woman who has brought us together invites voices from distant lands.
A guest says that the concrete makes his heart cry for our land.
A guest says that if we are ever on his land, he will take care of us.
We are given eagle feathers to wipe away our tears.
We are given water to slake our thirst.
We are asked to be mindful of what we bring to the circle.
We hold hands, and we dance.
Each day we are provoked with consideration, and generosity.
We are told we are respected.
We are assured that we are all in it together.
We learn that some stories say that the moon is a man, running to chase the sun.
We learn that other stories say the moon is a wise old woman.
We feel the joy of creation tales filled with pleasure.
We sense the logic of tales that embrace the natural world.
We sit in a room where a painting of four white bodies looms in dominance; we hear accounts of wrongdoings wreaked across the world by colonizers.
We sit in a room that has been transformed by the woman who has brought us together. Her daughter sings there with her friends each day.
We listen to people telling us who they are – their mothers, and their fathers, their lands, and their waters.
We watch the work of artists whose hearts, minds and viscera are pulsing with each gesture, and breath.
We see our humanity; we see the spirit of all creatures.
We bear witness to the power of embodied art.
Living – the act of being alive
Ritual – ceremonies that involve a series of actions
To live is to take action. What actions will we take?
Do we come in peace?
Do we come in good peace?