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Matriarchs Uprising

Artist-in-Residence Olivia C. Davies has curated Matriarchs Uprising: Indigenous Women Dancing Stories of Transformation, a program of performances, workshops and talks June 20-22.  Our Lindsay Curtis asked her about the highlights and the inspiration behind it.

LC: Tell us about Matriarchs Uprising

OD: This festival showcases work by Indigenous women who create and perform contemporary dance. Highlights include Painting the Dance by Mariaa Randall from Australia on June 20 alongside Pimiy by emerging artist Cheyenne Rain LeGrande. Both works include aspects of visual representation of the Indigenous body in relation to institutional spaces. In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21), Vancouver-based Raven Spirit Dance presents Frost Exploding Trees Moon in a double bill with Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Blood, Water, Earth. On June 22, Starr Muranko and I will each share excerpts from works we are developing, then Jessica McMann shares a double bill with Maura Garcia Dance from the United States. Master classes in contemporary Indigenous dance methodology, community workshops and artist talks are also programmed throughout the weekend. As my first foray into festival curation, I intend for Matriarchs Uprising to be a platform for artists and audiences to come together and celebrate Indigenous worldviews through dance.

LC: What was the inspiration for this event?

OD: I am compelled to open up spaces for Indigenous artists. As Artist-in-Residence at The Dance Centre this season, I created this opportunity for the women in my community to come together and share work. By bringing world-class performance by Indigenous creators to Scotiabank Dance Centre during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations, I hope to offer dance audiences a glimpse into the kind of works we are creating so that new connections can be made.

LC: The event features artists from beyond BC: how did you meet them? How do you feel their work will resonate in Vancouver?

OD: Bringing Mariaa Randall to the festival came about through conversations with Indigenous artist Jacob Boehme whose work, Blood on the Dance Floor was presented earlier this year by DanceHouse. He recommended I reach out to Mariaa, the choreographer of that piece, and within a few short months we made arrangements for her to join Matriarchs Uprising. Santee Smith and Maura Garcia are both colleagues who share similar artistic preoccupations as I do. Maura and I first met when she was invited to share work in Vancouver’s Talking Stick Festival back in 2014 and we continued to nurture our friendship over the years. Santee’s work is compelling and attractive to Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences around the world. She is an artist who inspires me to advance my artistic practice and deepen my connection to the concept of rematriation.

LC: What is the significance of the event title?

OD: As we witness Indigenous people around the world rise up to confront colonial power structures, I am inspired by these women who use their artistry to hold space for past, present and future in artistic presentations.