Canada’s Red Sky Performance is the centerpiece of “The Land On Which We Dance” – a Landmark Gathering of Indigenous Dance and Culture at Jacob’s Pillow

July 22, 2019 – (Becket, MA) Red Sky Performance makes their Doris Duke Theatre debut with the U.S. Premiere of Trace, August 7-11. Red Sky is a leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada and worldwide, led by Artistic Director Sandra Laronde. “Magnificent in the scope of its imagination” (Globe and Mail), Trace is a highly kinetic contemporary dance work influenced by Anishinaabe sky and star stories, offering a glimpse into Indigenous origins. The U.S. premiere of Trace is the centerpiece of The Land On Which We Dance, a landmark gathering of Indigenous dance and culture at Jacob’s Pillow, curated by Sandra Laronde in association with Hawaiian dancer/choreographer Christopher K. Morgan and Massachusetts-based Nipmuc Elder Larry Spotted Crow Mann.

Red Sky Performance

“Jacob’s Pillow’s identity is entwined with the beauty and majesty of our land and natural surroundings. It is important to welcome back to the Pillow the original inhabitants of this land with a landmark celebration that will not only assemble local elders and artists, but also a premiere company like Red Sky Performance, whose work acts as a vehicle for storytelling and transformation,” says Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge.

 

In an interview with the Smithsonian’s American Indian Magazine, Laronde says, “The idea of Trace came from the notion that all things are traceable and what we leave behind as humans, as a culture, as a nation, and as an individual is our legacy.” In creating the work, Laronde realized all traces have origins, and then began to question the origin of Indigenous people and more specifically, Anishinaabe people. The ideas of Trace are shared through athletic choreography for seven dancers performed alongside three musicians, who are saturated by and interact with projected night sky and land. The Toronto Star applauds Trace as “an original statement about the continuity of continental cultures that speak to each other and to us, across the centuries.”

 

The Land On Which We Dance, the weeklong celebration of Indigenous past, present, and future, begins on Wednesday, August 7, and concludes on Sunday, August 11. Since its founding in 1933, Jacob’s Pillow has engaged with Indigenous peoples, cultures, and traditions, and The Land On Which We Dance serves to revitalize the Pillow’s commitment to acknowledging the first known inhabitants of the land through elevating Indigenous work. The Pillow’s campus will be illuminated with an exchange of song, dance, and storytelling, bringing together local Indigenous peoples with contemporary artists based in the U.S. and Canada, and inviting all to participate. Sandra Laronde, of the Teme-Augama Anishinaabe (People of the Deep Water), Founder and Artistic Director of Red Sky Performance, has worked with Jacob’s Pillow to curate this celebration, in association with Christopher K. Morgan and Nipmuc Elder Larry Spotted Crow Mann. Additional featured artists include Martha Redbone, multi-award-winning blues and soul singer of Cherokee, Choctaw, European, and African-American descent; and internationally celebrated singer Soni Moreno (Mayan/Apache/Yaqui ), among others.

 

On Saturday, August 10 at 4pm in a free PillowTalk, Sandra Laronde and Christopher K. Morgan will have dialogue about the challenges in maintaining Indigenous dance traditions in today’s increasingly diverse world.

 

ABOUT RED SKY PERFORMANCE

Red Sky Performance is a leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada and worldwide. Led by Artistic Director Sandra Laronde of the Teme-Augama Anishinaabe (People of the Deep Water), and now in their 19th year, Red Sky’s work highlights the originality and power of contemporary performance (dance, theatre, music, and media), enabling new creations to expand the breadth and scope of Indigenous-made work in Canada. Their mission is to create inspiring experiences of contemporary Indigenous arts and culture that transform society. They create, produce, and tour original work to expand the ecology of contemporary Indigenous performance. Red Sky drives their passion forward and elevates Indigenous arts and culture in ways that celebrate, uplift, and respect Indigenous culture. Red Sky is dedicated to working with emerging and established artists as they hone their artistic practice, particularly though an Indigenous lens, offering unique opportunities for practitioners to thrive creatively and professionally.

Touring since 2003, Red Sky has delivered over 2,755 performances across Canada including 198 international performances in 17 countries on four continents, including landmark events such as at two Cultural Olympiads (Beijing and Vancouver), opening Canada at World Expo in Shanghai, opening UNCEDED: Voices of the Land at the Venice Biennale, and now at Jacob’s Pillow. At the same time, Red Sky has remained deeply rooted and invested on a grassroots level and regularly perform in urban, rural, and reserve communities across Turtle Island (Canada and U.S.). Red Sky Performance is the recipient of 12 Dora Mavor Moore awards and nominations, two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, three International Youth Drama Awards from Shenzhen, China, and the Smithsonian Expressive Award, among other recognitions.

 

ABOUT SANDRA LARONDE

Executive & Artistic Director of Red Sky, Sandra Laronde, M.S.C., O.M.C., B.A. (Hon), Hon. LL.D is originally from the Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe (People of the Deep Water) in Temagami, northern Ontario. A highly accomplished arts innovator and cultural leader, Laronde has conceived, developed, produced, and disseminated award-winning productions that are Indigenous, multi and interdisciplinary, and intergenerational. Laronde creates exceptional new work and programming that expands and elevates the ecology of Indigenous arts and culture, contributing to building vibrant Indigenous communities across Canada and worldwide.

Laronde has been widely recognized with numerous awards and distinctions. These include the 2018 Meritorious Service Decoration on behalf of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, a prestigious award recognizing individuals who have made remarkable contributions, who inspire others, and who share a common goal of making a positive difference to Canada; a Doctor of Law, honoris causa from the Senate at Trent University; a finalist for the Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award; a 2014 Vital Ideas (Toronto Community Foundation); the 2013 Victor Martyn Staunch-Lynch Award for Outstanding Artist in Dance (Canada Council); a 2011 Expressive Arts Award (Smithsonian Institute); the City of Toronto and Toronto Life’s “Face the Arts” recipient celebrating Cultural Mavericks; the Paul D. Fleck Fellowship in the Arts (Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity); and the Toronto City Council’s Aboriginal Affairs Award. Laronde also participated in the Governor-General’s Canadian Leadership program, which celebrates leaders who have made a significant impact on Canada.

JACOB’S PILLOW CONNECTIONS:

Artistic Director Sandra Laronde visited the Pillow for a residency in May 2019, making connections with local Indigenous representatives for The Land on Which We Dance

 

Red Sky Performance closed the 2017 Inside/Out Performance Series.

 

PERFORMANCE & TICKET INFORMATION:

Doris Duke Theatre, August 7-11

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:15pm

Saturday and Sunday at 2:15pm

$35, $45

A limited number of $20 Under 35 tickets are available; adults ages 18-35 are eligible. One ticket per person; each guest must show valid I.D. when picking up tickets at Will Call.

Special Event: The Land on Which We Dance

August 7-11

Indigenous artists Sandra Laronde and Christopher K. Morgan facilitate a landmark gathering of Indigenous dance at Jacob’s Pillow. Related events identified below.

Re-Mapping Native Space in the Berkshires & Beyond

Aug 7, 4:30pm

FREE

The writings, voices, and homelands of Native people from the Berkshires and western Massachusetts are highlighted in this conversation with Amherst College professor Lisa Brooks, author of two books about the Indigenous traditions of this region: The Common Pot and Our Beloved Kin: Re-Mapping King Philip’s War.

Inside/Out Performance Series: The Land on Which We Dance

Wednesday, August 7 at 6:15pm

FREE, LIVE MUSIC

This landmark gathering kicks off a week of celebrating contemporary Indigenous artists. The Pillow campus will be illuminated with an exchange of song, dance, and storytelling—bringing together local Indigenous peoples and inviting all to participate in this exchange.

Class with Inside/Out Artist: Stones and Stories with Christopher K. Morgan

Thursday, August 8 at 4pm

FREE

Native Hawaiian choreographer Christopher K. Morgan’s dance theater piece Pōhaku (the Hawaiian word for stone) incorporates stones in the performance. For this workshop, Morgan shares stories about the role of stones in traditional Hawaiian culture and his own life.

Workshop participants will gather stones according to traditional Hawaiian protocols, including asking each stone for permission to be utilized in the performance. The workshop will incorporate storytelling, moving, and chanting. These same stones then become a part of the Pōhaku performance, charged with the energy of the workshop participants. Following the Pōhaku performance, the stones are returned to the locations from which they were originally gathered.

Weather permitting, class begins at the Inside/Out Stage and will move throughout campus. In the case of inclement weather, class takes place in the Ruth St. Denis Studio. Open to all ages and experience levels. Participants younger than 18 will require a parent/guardian’s signature on a liability waiver. Pre-registration is required at jacobspillow.org.

Inside/Out Performance Series: Christopher K. Morgan

Thursday, August 8 at 6:15pm

FREE, LIVE MUSIC

Choreographer and performer Christopher K. Morgan performs Pōhaku, a unique dance and hula performance with live music by electric cellist Wytold and Hawaiian chanter/percussionist Elsie Kaleihulukea Ryder. The show tells the story of Hawaii’s colonial past through the choreographer’s personal story of his ache for the land he is from, but never lived in.

Christopher K. Morgan & Artists (CKM&A) is a professional contemporary dance company serving as a vehicle for Morgan’s choreographic exploration of social and cultural issues. Voted Washington, DC’s Best Dance Company in the 2015 CityPaper annual poll, the company has garnered support from The New England Foundation for the Arts, The National Performance Network, and The Native Arts and Culture Foundation, among others. CKM&A’s work has been declared “direct, transcendent and entrancing” by Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic Sarah Kaufman of The Washington Post and “charming and poignant” by Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times.

Storytelling Bonfire

Friday, August 9 after evening performance (around 9:30pm)

FREE

Following the evening performance of Red Sky Performance, the Pillow campus will be illuminated with an exchange of song, dance, and storytelling centered around a bonfire. This event is a moment to bring together local Indigenous peoples with contemporary Indigenous artists—anchored by the presentation of Toronto-based Red Sky Performance. In the event of rain, check jacobspillow.org for updates.

PillowTalk: Indigenous Dance

Saturday, August 10 at 4pm

Blake’s Barn

FREE

Sandra Laronde of Red Sky Performance compares notes with Hawaiian Christopher K. Morgan, exploring the challenges of maintaining Indigenous dance traditions in today’s increasingly diverse world.

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