Monday, February 20, 2017

Experience Native American Cultures at the Ordway Center

Expand your horizons (and your palate) next week with this rich new festival celebrating Native American cultures. 


Photo courtesy of the Ordway.

We are super blessed to have a global, rich food and arts community here in the Twin Cities, and while we're historically not always great at acknowledging or supporting our diverse communities, we are definitely getting better.

A great example of this is the world class programming at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, which today announced an amazing new series focusing on the artistry and culture of Native American communities including artists from Native American, Indigenous and First Nations groups. The week of residency programs will culminate in the performance by Oyate Okodakiciyapi: A Unique Celebration of Native Music and Dance on Saturday, March 4 that will feature artists from many different stripes, including solo Hawaiian choreographer Christopher Morgan; Santee Smith of the Mohawk Nation; and an inter-tribal group called Dancing Earth. The Oyate show is guided by community coordinator Christal Moose and an advisory council of Native and Indigenous community leaders, in collaboration with Rosy Simas of Rosy Simas Danse.

Key to the success of this residency is their partnership with many local organizations such as All My Relations Arts, Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), Two Rivers Gallery and The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts. The event is a part of the Taking Our Place Centerstage initiative through which the Ordway and SoulTouch Productions work in collaboration with communities of color. This partnership has faced some controversy, with criticisms about nonprofit funding distributions and the transparency of partnerships with diverse arts organizations being leveraged by groups such as Mu Performing Arts. The points raised in this excellent article are valid, and I hope a conversation about fair arts funding is able to progress through the spark that Mu has lit.
Photo courtesy of the Sioux Chef social media.

Still, there's no denying that a center stage, widely distributed arts organization such as the Ordway is able to spread the message to the masses quite a bit further than multiple individual groups; so here's to hoping that this coming week does a respectful, great job of celebrating Native American cultures. The lineup is really impressive to start, and it's broad, covering not just dance and theater but also food traditions and cultural lectures by great features such as The Sioux Chef (who I've written about as one of the most exciting new things to hit the Twin Cities food scene in ages).

A list of descriptions of programming follows. If you're like me and are constantly looking to widen your understanding of the world around you (and the real history of the places we live in), definitely consider checking this series out!

Photo courtesy of the Sioux Chef social media.

A Survey of Native Contemporary Dance
Sunday, Feb. 26  2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.  at The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts

Presented by The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts in partnership with Rosy Simas Danse and Ordway. This public talk highlights the incredible diversity of Native people who live and dance in the Twin Cities. Guest speakers include Kate Beane, Athena Cloud, Lumhe Sampson, Rosy Simas, Winona Tahdooahnippah, Sandy WhiteHawk and Larry Yazzie. Opening prayer led by Janice Bad Moccasin. Optional travel to and from the event on a Storytelling Bus featuring “Coffee Shop” Al Gross from Powwow Grounds is also available.

Indigenous Contemporary Dance Workshop with Rulan Tangen
Tuesday, Feb. 28  4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.  at Two Rivers Gallery

In partnership with Rosy Simas Danse and Two Rivers Gallery. This workshop is led by Rulan Tangen, founding director and choreographer of Dancing Earth, an internationally recognized company of intertribal contemporary dancers. Rooted in respect for Native worldview and cultural wisdom as shared by her elders and mentors, Tangen invites class participants to experience a journey into indigenous embodiment. The workshop is free, but registration is required. RSVP at 651.282.3060 or tsar@ordway.org.

Welcome Gathering
Tuesday, Feb. 28  6:00 p.m.  at Two Rivers Gallery

In partnership with Rosy Simas Danse, All My Relations Arts, NACDI and Two Rivers Gallery. Come together with artists and community members to welcome several visiting renowned Native contemporary dancers and artists. The opening blessing will be done by Nancy Bordeaux. Catering by Gatherings Café will be provided. On display in the Two Rivers Gallery will be Gathering of Contemporary Indigenous Artists, an exhibition curated by Gordon Coons (Ojibwa/Ottawa).

Powwow Boot Camp with Santee Smith
Wednesday, March 1  6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.  at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

This high-energy Powwow/dance training class will be led by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s artistic director, Santee Smith. This intensive and fun boot camp style workout is for anyone interested in maximizing their physical fitness. Participants will practice skills in the Indigenous dance forms of Powwow and Onkehon:we (Iroquois) social dances. The class is free, but registration is required. RSVP at 651.282.3060 or tsar@ordway.org.

Tanya Lukin Linklater Exhibition
Friday, March 3  6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. (opening reception)  at All My Relations Gallery

Presented by All My Relations Arts in partnership with Rosy Simas Danse and Ordway. Tanya Lukin Linklater’s performance collaborations, videos, photographs and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally. She is compelled by relationships between bodies, histories, poetry, pedagogy, Indigenous conceptual spaces (languages) and institutions. The visual art installation will be on view March 3–April 7.

A Night with NACDI: Indigenous Foods and Arts
Saturday, March 4  3:00 p.m.  at All Nations Church

Presented by NACDI in partnership with Ordway. Enjoy dinner by The Sioux Chef while engaging in a talk about the Indigenous food movement. Hosted by Robert Lilligren, president and CEO of NACDI. The event is free, but registration is required. RSVP at tpayer@nacdi.org or 612.284.1102.
At 5:30 p.m., free transportation to and from Oyate Okodakiciyapi: An Evening of Native Contemporary Dance at the Ordway will be provided. The Storytelling Bus will feature “Coffee Shop” Al Gross from Powwow Grounds.

Oyate Okodakiciyapi: An Evening of Native Contemporary Dance
Saturday, March 4  7:30 p.m.  at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Co-curated with local choreographer Rosy Simas, Ordway presents a showcase of Native contemporary dance companies called Oyate Okodakiciyapi, which means “people coming together” in the Dakota language. This thrilling evening of dance will feature solo works by native Hawaiian Christopher K. Morgan and Santee Smith from the Mohawk Nation, as well as a new work by Dancing Earth, an indigenous, intertribal dance ensemble. Tickets are available at www.ordway.org. This performance is part of the Ordway’s World Music & Dance Series.

Arrive early for a pre-show Ordway Extra at 6:30 p.m. to hear Zoë Klein, artistic director/performer at Paradizo Dance in San Francisco, and Tanya Lukin Linklater, a multi-media artist from Ontario, explore defining culture in contemporary terms in a discussion moderated by Rosy Simas.

On display in the lobby will be Gathering of Contemporary Indigenous Artists, a visual art exhibition curated by Gordon Coons (Ojibwa/Ottawa). Themes explored through the art will connect with Native American and Indigenous identity. The exhibition is free to those attending Ordway performances March 2-4, April 20-21 and May 30-June 4. Featured artists include Camille A. Lacapa (Hopi-Tewa/Ojibway), Cole Jacobson (Lakota), Chholing Taha (Cree), Gordon Coons (Ojibwa/Ottawa), Gwen Westerman (Lakota) and Joseph Allen (Lakota).

Round Table Discussion: An artist to artist talk with Indigenous choreographers from Turtle Island
Sunday, March 5  11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.  at The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts

In partnership with Rosy Simas Danse, The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts and All My Relations Arts. Featuring conversation with Tanya Lukin Linklater, Christopher K. Morgan, Maura Garcia, Rulan Tangen, Zoë Klein, Sam Mitchell and Rosy Simas. The discussion will touch on current work, aesthetics, challenges, methods, audiences, community engagement and plans for the future.