October 15, 2011

A Story Before Time

Mohawk choreographer's work presented at schools, shows

By Mike DunhamAmong the prime attractions on stage this week is "A Story Before Time," a rendition of the Iroquois creation story by the Kaha:wi Dance Theatre. The choreographer and company founder, Santee Smith, is in town with her dancers for a series of events that starts today.

Smith, a Mohawk from Ontario, studied dance with the national Ballet School of Canada. In 1996 she began to make her mark with work that combined traditional and modern choreography and story-telling, a genre sometimes called aboriginal contemporary dance.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Canadian critic Paula Citron described Smith's dance as a "ravishing mix of styles and spirits ... smoothing out the Earth-rooted native movements to form a lyrical hybrid with echoes of both. Smith's choreography is a perfect fusion. There are the stamping, rhythmic feet, low-body crouches, spiral turns and arched, angel-winged arms of her Iroquois heritage. And there are also the graceful upper body work, deep contractions, split jumps and partner lifts of her modern-dance training. The group tribal dances are down-right thrilling."
Comment:  For more on Native theater, see Pocahontas Opera Casting Criticized and Black Elk Speaks Play.

No comments: