Friday, February 15, 2019

photos by David Hou

Emerging from a huge mesmerizing upstage eye-like set piece, and frequently gravitating toward a downstage arrangement of elegant ceramic vessels, an ensemble of women dancers evoke a strong and powerful sense of camaraderie, meditation, ongoing struggle and celebration in the current Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (Six Nations/Toronto) production of Blood Tides. The gender politics of the overall work are concisely set out in the program, and manifest onstage in a gorgeous sweeping mediation as the choreography gives rhythmic and physical 'voice'  to an ongoing anti-colonialist struggle that finds elements of profoundly conflicted masculinity within its textual and aesthetic discursive strategies;

"There is the way that the #MeToo movement has not quite spread to Indian Country, for fear that speaking out about abusive indigenous men will reinforce racist ideas about our communities. There is the way that women's voices have been largely silenced by Indigenous men, who have taken the toxic masculinity of colonial Canada and used it to their strategic advantage in a country that always prefers men to women...

Kaha:wi Theatre's Blood Tides is a moving, visceral piece that ultimately acts as a balm for all the Indigenous women it was created for."

Performance Notes by Guest Writer Alicia Elliott

A seamless collaborative team (see below) brings the complete experience together with precise and varied tones,deftly supporting the overall stage pictures and the choreography with spectacular set pieces, accompanying projections, beautifully designed costumes, lighting, sound and  original music that adds to the power and beauty of this wonderful piece of dance theatre. 

Santee Smith - Managing Artistic Director/Concept for Blood Tides

curator's note

With a rich and strong artistic vision, Santee Smith has crafted a ritual, theatrical experience to awaken memories and propose possibilities for women in our time, and 
for generations to follow.

Mimi Beck, danceworks

"When ceremonies have been put into a colonial sleep how can we reawaken them?"

Santee Smith

"How can women occupy space from internal to external? How does this reflect societal expectations of how women can move and the energies she can embody?"

Santee Smith


following material from DanceWorks online source:
DanceWorks presents Six Nations’ Kaha:wi Dance Theatre in 
Toronto premiere of Blood Tides
- conceived and directed by Artistic Director Santee Smith -

TORONTO (January 10, 2019):  DanceWorks proudly presents the highly acclaimed Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT) in the Toronto premiere of Blood Tides, conceived and directed by KDT Artistic Director Santee Smith of Six Nations of the Grand River territory. Blood Tides delves into sacred space to retrieve women’s ancient knowing and rites of passage. Blood Tides runs for 3 nights only – Thursday, February 14 through Saturday February 16 – at Harbourfront Centre’s Fleck Dance Theatre. 

Illuminated by elemental and ancestral forces, Blood Tides activates sacred alignments from cosmos to womb. Its imagery and energies span the wide range of what is woman: warrior, leader, mother, divine goddess, creator, huntress and thresholder of life and death. With an ensemble of four Indigenous women, Blood Tides acknowledges the magnificence of woman in all of her phases and ages. 

Through the power of the feminine voice and body, Blood Tides opens a sacred space with an inter-generational, inter-cultural and interdisciplinary performance featuring song and dance of earthworld, underworld and universe for a rematriation to the house of humanity.

This visual and sonic feast is performed by Marina Acevedo (Mexico/Zapotec), Julianne Blackbird (Kahnyen’kehàka Nation /Mohawk Nation), Santee Smith (Kahnyen’kehàka Nation /Mohawk Nation), and Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala (Fijian/New Zealand), with dramaturgy by Monique Mojica (Guna and Rappahannock Nations). The recorded musical score by Cris Derksen (mixed Cree Nation) features Pura Fé (Tuscarora and Taino Nations), Ngāhuia Murphy (Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Ruapani ki Waikaremoana, Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu, New Zealand), Semiah Smith (Kahnyen’kehàka Nation /Mohawk Nation), and others for an international Indigenous women’s emotive landscape where Lightning Woman, Mother of Mothers, and Clay Woman come to tell their story, gather strength and activate power.

View a 1:30 min excerpt for Blood Tides at

Blood Tides is the second production in Santee Smith/Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s triptych performance series: Re-Quickening (2016), Blood Tides (2018, St. Catharines’ FirstON Performing Arts Centre premiere, co-presented by Celebration of Nations) and Skennen (slated for 2020), all created through Indigenous process and from a Konkwehon:we (Indigenous woman’s) perspective and research. 

Blood Tides opens up space to question, retrieve pre-colonial Indigenous women’s knowledges, and weave her narratives and experiences. The embodiment of her divinity and humanity united, owning and navigating space, Blood Tides activates women’s ceremony and cycles remembering Indigenous matrifocal ways of being,” notes Santee Smith.

Santee Smith is from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Turtle Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River, Haldimand Treaty territory. She is a multidisciplinary artist, award-winning producer and Managing Artistic Director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre which she founded in 2005 and which has grown into an internationally renowned performing arts company. Exploring the intersection of Indigenous and new performance, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s works feature visually stunning, visceral, and thought provoking performance conceived and devised through Indigenous knowledge, process and methodology. Facebook & Insta: @kahawidance

Santee Smith trained at Canada’s National Ballet School, completed Physical Education and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and an M.A. in Dance from York University. Her body of work includes 13 productions and over 12 short works. Her independent commissions include collaborations with National Arts Centre Orchestra, Fall for Dance North, Canadian Opera Company, North American Indigenous Games - Opening Ceremonies, Stratford Festival, National Film Board of Canada and Yokohama Noh Theatre, among others. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the K.M. Hunter Award for Dance, Canada Council’s Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award, Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Choreography for Susuriwka – willow bridge, and the 2017 REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award, among others. 

DanceWorks began as a collective of independent dance artists in 1977 and has grown to become Toronto's leading presenter of independent dance. DanceWorks offers seasons of eclectic, exhilarating choreography programmed to intrigue, challenge and enthrall. DanceWorks adds to the theatrical experience with Carol's Dance Notes and post-performance conversations with artists.

DanceWorks presents the Toronto premiere of
Blood Tides
from Six Nation’s Kaha:wi Dance Theatre
Conceived and Directed by Artistic Director Santee Smith

Thursday, February 14-Saturday February 16 at 8pm
Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
207 Queens Quay West, Toronto
For tickets call 416-973-4000 or purchase online at

Dynamic Ticket Pricing - the earlier you purchase, the more you save:
Prior to the week of the show - $36; During the week of the show - $40; Day of Show - $42
Discounts: Seniors - $28, Arts Industry - 20% discount, Students - $15 and Groups of 10+ - $23
Follow DanceWorks on twitter @DanceWorksTO and friend on Facebook @DanceWorksTO

runs at the Fleck Dance Theatre (Harbourfront) until February 16th

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