This past week Alberta Aboriginal Arts presented the world premiere of the contemporary dance work They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They? and a workshop presentation of Connection.1 at Edmonton’s Catalyst Theatre as part of the 4th Annual Rubaboo Arts Festival.
They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They? is a rugged and haunting work that uses the choreography of traditional First Nations dances and ceremonies as its template. It depicts the fate of both the plains buffalo and the indigenous population that it sustained until the end of the 19th century. Using masks, the dancers in the piece transition between the perspective of both human and animal. Created by Alberta Aboriginal Arts Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham and Blackfoot choreographer Troy Emery Twigg, this stirring production is the first part of a trilogy of dance pieces whereby each section is created by a different indigenous choreographer.
They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They?
Connection.1 (They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They? Part II)
Australian choreographer and Artistic Director of NYC’s Untitled|Collective, Ian RT Colless launched Connection.1, the second part of the trilogy, at the festival as a workshop production. Of Australia’s aboriginal community himself, Colless brings together in his Untitled|Collective dancers from Montreal, France, England, Australia, and Edmonton. Connection.1 is an exhilarating, dramatic work, which explores themes of identity, colonization, and annihilation from the perspectives of man and animal of the land. The esoteric behaviors of indigenous antipodal species such as emu and kangaroo are suggested to brilliant effect.
The choreographer for the planned part III of the trilogy has yet to be discovered. Connection.1 will enjoy its world premiere in Edmonton in the spring of 2013. With universal themes possessed of global resonance, this triptych is destined for a life far beyond this first rendering at the Rubaboo Arts Festival. The indigenous artists of this collective, through the auspices of Alberta Aboriginal Arts, have at hand a treasure-toolbox of both modern and ancestral forms of expression that lend to the creation of lush, communicative, and accessible works which will speak to emerging audiences with a powerful message – we have re-appropriated our voices and we will speak our truths.