1 days until #DanceWeekend21: Meet Santee Smith!

Apr. 28, 2021

1 days until #DanceWeekend21! Meet Santee Smith, Tekaronhiáhkhwa, Picking Up The Sky, from the Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan, Ohsweken, Six Nations, Turtle Island, of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre.


She is a proud mother; multidisciplinary artist; director; producer; speaker and thankful for all of creation and the strength of her ancestors. "I grew up connected to my Haudenosaunee culture. My origins extend from an ancestral line of Kahnyen’kehàka artists and innovators, individuals who generated their livelihood from their creativity. Like my family, my life has been dedicated to replicating symbols, telling and re-telling story."


At DW'21, @santeesmith will be sharing the short video “The Unfurling” from Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s “Call & Response to Spring” - online offering. Get your ticket to DanceWeekend'21 and tune in! https://bit.ly/3gbtQk0 #ComeDanceWithUs And follow @kahawidance for more info on the upcoming premier of SKéN:NEN in July & “Sunflower Sessions” series in August.


Read more here:


Can you tell us little bit about yourself/your company/collective/school?


Wa'tkwanonhwerá:ton Santee Smith, Tekaronhiáhkhwa iónkiats, Kahnyen’kehàka, niwakonhwentsio:ten, Wakeniáhten. Ohswekén nitewaké:non, Anowara:kowa. My name is Santee Smith, Tekaronhiáhkhwa, Picking Up The Sky, from the Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan, Ohsweken, Six Nations, Turtle Island. I’m the proud mother of a beautiful 22 year old daughter; a multidisciplinary artist; director; producer; speaker and thankful for all of creation and the strength of my ancestors. I grew up connected to my Haudenosaunee culture. My origins extend from an ancestral line of Kahnyen’kehàka artists and innovators, individuals who generated their livelihood from their creativity. Like my family, my life has been dedicated to replicating symbols, telling and re-telling story. Sharing story is fundamental to being human. Sharing story is how we teach about how to be human. 


 


What will you be sharing at DanceWeekend’21?


I am sharing the short video “The Unfurling” from Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s “Call & Response to Spring” - online offering. It is a response to a call from Ian R Maracle and filmed by Shane Powless with music by Donald Quan and vocals by my daughter Semiah Smith. 


 


What interests about film as a medium and how does if differ from a live performance? 


As an artist, I work visually so whether live or digital, I’m inspired to create cinematic theatrical, beautiful imagery and especially placed and responding to land. 


 


How has the pandemic shifted your work as a professional dance artist?


My creativity has not changed only shifted to include home, even more centring of land, and time to work on Haudenosaunee process and philosophy. This cocooning time has offered time for transformation, growth and grounding to earth and earthly interconnections. 


 


Please share what you are most looking forward to at Dance Ontario’s first virtual DanceWeekend?


It is amazing to see the work of artists maintaining their voice, embodiment and artistry despite not being live in a theatre. It is my hope that the DanceWeekend audience will expand to around the globe in this new digital offering. 


 


Do you have any up-coming performances/workshops/events you would like to share?


Kaha:wi Dance Theatre is premiering SKéN:NEN site specific at Burgoyne Woods, St. Catherines, presented by FirstON Performing Arts Centre July 23-25. Here’s the prequel trailer: SKéN:NEN - On the Edge of Collapse https://vimeo.com/511969903


This August I will be performing and hosting “Sunflower Sessions” in my 360 Sunflower stage. These will be recorded and shared on FB Live. 


 


In 1 or 2 sentences, what does dance mean to you?


I don’t use the word dance to describe my work anymore…although it’s in the company name. I am interested in embodied storytelling and all the integrated elements that hold up the life of a story: design, music, land, site, ancestral knowledge, and spirit. Story is important: how is it created and shared, who is creating it, why is it important to share?