Contemporary Indigenous dance festival takes centre stage in Vancouver

Feb 3 2022, 8:49 pm

A celebration of contemporary dance by female Indigenous artists is returning to Vancouver this month with a variety of powerful performances to experience.

The fourth annual Matriarchs Uprising Festival is happening from February 14 to 19 and features a mix of live, on-demand, and community events.

Olivia C. Davies, artistic director of O.Dela Arts, is presenting Matriarchs Uprising in partnership with The Dance Centre. She told Daily Hive that the festival will have something for everyone to enjoy.

“Matriarchs Uprising brings together Indigenous women who are nurturing the art of contemporary dance so that it may be appreciated by audiences from all backgrounds,” said Davies. “I seek to balance works with strong political themes with more nuanced, poetic works to capture the potency of our rich cultural heritage. Solos and small ensemble productions for mixed bill presentations are offered alongside circle conversations, workshops, and more recently, streaming of on-demand videos from artists who cannot attend in person.”

Highlights of this year’s Matriarchs Uprising are live performances of KWE by Jeanette Kotowich and Ancestor Dances by Maura Garcia on February 18 and 19 at The Dance Centre.

KWE is an ensemble performance led by Kotowich that investigates, reflects, and references Nêhiyaw cosmology. Ancestor Dances is inspired by the tales, movements, habits, and gestures of seven of Garcia’s recently deceased ancestors.

Matriarchs Uprising

Maura García (Gosdayi/Facebook)

“Dance has a way of connecting the human experience across cultures by communicating story, sentiment, and synergistic approaches to healing,” explained Davies. “I believe dance has the power to heal ourselves and our collective humanity by moving us out of our heads and into our bodies.

“I believe that Indigenous dance artists carry an important role in gathering the pieces of our past that are important for our collective future and translating these into the present through contemporary dance forms.”

Festival viewers are able to stream online on-demand performances by Christine Friday, Sophie Dow, Sandra Lamouche, Samantha Sutherland, Jessica McMann, Jeanette Kotowich, and Animikiikwe Couchie-Waukey with Bella Waru for the duration of the festival. The works explore a number of themes, including Indigenous world views, identity, land, ancestors, and connection.

Matriarchs Uprising

Sandra Lamouche (Rick Liberte/Facebook)

The week-long Matriarchs Uprising also includes an Opening Water Ceremony, in-person and online masterclasses and community workshops, Talking Truths Circle Conversations, and a performance by DTES Grandmothers Collective. All events are free or by donation.

“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,” said Davies. “In the Matriarchs Uprising Festival, all are invited as honoured guests and made to feel welcome to our gathering of contemporary Indigenous dance artists so that our work and our messages can ripple out into the world.”

Matriarchs Uprising Festival

When: February 14 to 19, 2022
Time: Various times
Where: Streaming online and at The Dance Centre at Scotiabank Dance Centre – 677 Davie Street, Vancouver
Cost: Free or by donation, register online

Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

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