In the stars: Red Sky Performance’s Trace is a stunning display of embodied Indigenous knowledge

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Trace | Red Sky Performance | DanceHouse, Full Circle First Nations Performance, and SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs | SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts | November 24 – 27, 2021

Inspired by Anishinaabe sky and star stories, Trace is a powerhouse of athletic choreography and dynamic motion. Explosive live and recorded music, including throat singing, accompanies the six dancers who often move as one being.

The piece begins with one dancer lifted above the others in a beautiful display of coordinated movement and unison. Full of energy and sharp, crisp movements these dancers are indefatigable and full of passion.

Beautiful animations projected onto the back wall show constellations, line drawings, paint strokes and an eclipse. Most striking, though, is a 1921 letter from the Department of Indian Affairs that talks about the dangers of dancing and its prohibition. One hundred years later, we’re witnessing Indigenous dance featured prominently on stage and in performance series. The letters slowly fall like snow and become buffalo galloping away.

Not only are these dancers extremely talented individually, when they dance together they have impressive chemistry and perform intricate, flawless lifts. The choreography is relentless, constantly flowing as the dancers move from one scene to the next.

Apart from Jera Wolfe’s stunning choreography, the music by composer Eliot Britton added a deeper layer of emotion. Particularly impressive is Nelson Tagoona’s “throat boxing”—a combination of throat singing and beat boxing.

Presenting scope for plenty of imagination and reflection about our place in the universe and amongst the stars, Red Sky Performance’s dance is embodied Indigenous knowledgethat leaves a lasting impression.

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