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KAHA:WI’S RE-QUICKENING AND THE FEMININE KOKATHA POWER OF FRANCES RINGS

KAHA:WI’S RE-QUICKENING  AND THE FEMININE KOKATHA POWER OF FRANCES RINGS

Scene from Re-Quickening | Image Source: Tony Nyberg

This Thursday, April 28 Kaha:wi Dance Theatre presents Re-Quickening, a thought provoking artistic performance which highlights international Indigenous women’s issues, such as the violence they have faced since European contact, while reconstructing feminine power. The creation team behind Re-Quickening is led by Artistic Director, Santee Smith, who founded Kaha:wi in 2005 and has since produced numerous award winning performances.

Re-Quickening features Indigenous talent from across the globe, including award winning dancer, and choreographer Frances Rings (Kokatha) from Australia. The production has drawn on many Indigenous women narratives such as the Backwards woman, Changing woman, Skywoman, Claywoman and Earth Mother, using their symbolic strength to dismantle the concept of colonization throughout the performance. “[These icons] are such strong inspirational women – between creation and destruction – they exist so that the other can survive,” said Rings. “As women, we understand the delicate balance of life. It is a role that we acknowledge as the nurturer and life giver.”

Frances Rings in a Bangarra Dance Theatre Production, Walkabout
Frances Rings in the Bangarra Dance Theatre Production, Walkabout | Image source: James Houston/Bangarra.com.au

Before her international success, Rings started her career at National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA Dance College) in Australia before studying at New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre. Since then she has been connected with Bangarra Dance Theatre for 12 years as a dancer and then as their Resident Choreographer in 2012.

In her travels, she has noted similarities between Canadian and Australian Indigenous contemporary artists’ ability to use their culture as inspiration for their work. “I first met Santee Smith at the Indigenous Choreographers Summit and Workshop at the Banff Centre in 2009,” said Rings. “Santee then visited me at Bangarra Dance Theatre in Australia a couple of years after that. I think we have admired each other’s work and practice for many years.” Since their meeting, Smith has invited Rings to be a guest instructor at Kaha:wi’s well known Summer Intensive Dance Training program in 2014 and 2015 and as a guest contributor for Re-Quickening. “In the early stages it was quite an organic role. I had to allow for the story to invite me into it,” she said, “I was very conscious that I was from another country and wanted to respectfully allow for the right time to step in.”

Rings goes onto explain, “There are many symbolic motifs and gestures that are derived from a spiritual connection to something that is inherent. It’s awakening that responsibility and giving back its rightful place in our contemporary lives.”

While Rings won’t be on hand at the premiere she does stress the importance of the work Santee and Co. have created. “Re-Quickening is a testament to the struggles, resilience and survival of Aboriginal women through reclamation and finally transformation,” she said. “From the primal to the de-colonized, this work gives voice to those who were silenced and brings light to those who long stood in the shadows.”

Santee Smith in performance | Image source: David Hou
Santee Smith in performance | Image source: David Hou

Re-Quickening runs from April 28 to May 1st at Harbourfront Centre’s Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West, Toronto). All performances begin at 8:00 p.m. with the exception of the Sunday, May 1st matinee at 3 p.m. Tickets are $38 and can be purchased by calling Harbourfront Centre’s Box Office at 416-973-4000 and online at:

http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/boxoffice.cfm

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About The Author

Erica Commanda

Born in Toronto, Erica Commanda (Algonquin/Ojibwe) grew up in the small community of Pikwakanagan. From there she moved across Canada living in Ottawa, Vancouver and recently returning to Toronto, spending most of her time working in the bar/hospitality industry, mastering the art of listening to stories from randoms while slinging and spilling drinks (at them or to them). And now through a series of random decisions and events in life she is on a journey discovering and mastering her own knack for storytelling as a Staff Writer for MUSKRAT Magazine.

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