Dance Art

Evaluate: Sandra Laronde’s Miigis: Underwater Panther retells Anishinaabe legend by Indigenous dance, music, and visible arts

Evaluate: Sandra Laronde’s Miigis: Underwater Panther retells Anishinaabe legend by Indigenous dance, music, and visible arts

Miigis: Underwater Panther attracts inspiration from a prophecy through which the Anishinaabe should transfer westward or perish, exploring a journey from the Atlantic to the nice lakes.John Lauener

  • Title: Miigis: Underwater Panther
  • Director: Sandra Laronde
  • Choreographer: Sandra Laronde
  • Dancers: Rick Sacks with Julian Cote, Pura Fé, Marie Gaudet, Marc Merilainen, and Pierre Mongeon
  • Firm: Purple Sky Efficiency
  • Venue: Canadian Stage, Berkeley Road Theatre
  • Metropolis: Toronto
  • 12 months: Jan. 22 – 29, 2023

The worldwide premiere of Miigis: Underwater Panther is a tour de pressure spanning thousand-year-old legend to current historical past, by up to date dance. This newest manufacturing by Purple Sky Efficiency showcases creator and creative director Sandra Laronde’s imaginative and prescient, and the corporate’s dedication to progressive storytelling by up to date Indigenous dance, reside music, and visible arts.

Miigis, choreographed by Laronde, is a narrative of Anishinaabe survival, based mostly on a westward migration from the Atlantic that occurred no less than 4 centuries in the past, in line with present archeology. Tales of this migration have been handed down by so many generations, it’s turn into a part of a higher mythology. Sadly, like many, I grew up with out our tales and it feels virtually alien for me to consider jap Canada being a web site of profound historic, religious and mythological significance. It’s thrilling to see this story shared, an epic journey that came about on the bottom beneath our toes as a substitute of in distant lands resembling Greece, Rome, the Center East.

Whereas the Anishinaabe journey for survival, the dancers convey a deep sense of cohesion as they work collectively, work together with the surroundings, and turn into part of nature. The small however mighty ensemble makes use of conventional songs that will probably be acquainted to many Indigenous folks and followers of this style. The music and background animations (by Febby Tan) accompany the dancers to create a satisfying otherworldliness because the performers wrestle and transition from a salt water world to a freshwater one. It’s visually compelling – the ensemble is fluid and related, even in smaller groupings and through solos, and there’s a clear sense of unity amongst them.

The manufacturing by Purple Sky Efficiency showcases creator and creative director Sandra Laronde’s imaginative and prescient, and the corporate’s dedication to progressive storytelling by up to date Indigenous dance, reside music, and visible arts.John Lauener

Whereas the present captivates the viewers with its themes of religious and mythological origins starting on Canada’s east coast, one dancer silently slips away solely to creep again as a harmful agent of chaos.

The journey is disrupted by the newly returned dancer and the illness (powder) he blows on them. His arrival rapidly turns the pure world into an apocalyptic hellscape. The backing animation and lighting design take a flip for the darkish and ominous. It’s a jarring mid-show change of tempo – and one which, judging by the gasps I heard through the efficiency I attended, startled a lot of the viewers. The already athletic choreography has dancers taking higher leaps and falls as actions turn into more and more disjointed and extreme. The dancers lose their preliminary connection as they discover their world burning, invaded and dominated by exterior forces.

All six dancers boast an unimaginable technical and emotional vary; at occasions throwing themselves across the stage, letting out primal vocalizations. The music loses its dreaminess and a well-known melody from the western canon is labored in. Each component of the surroundings is swallowed by colonial forces. The migration of the Anishinaabe, an historical survival story, is changed with a contemporary survival story of colonialism. This time, nevertheless, the Anishinaabe can’t merely transfer west; there may be nowhere to run. With this narrative shift, historic footage from residential colleges and different snapshots documenting colonial enlargement are used within the background; this isn’t a historical past lesson as a lot as it’s Laronde trying to evoke empathy from the viewers and succeeding. The crew create a visceral sense of being institutionalized, the ache of getting one’s lifestyle destroyed. When it feels virtually an excessive amount of, Laronde deftly weaves just a few jokes in. To keep away from getting caught in trauma or turning it into trauma porn, one technique is to decorate it in a clown costume and chuckle. Laronde and Lesley Hampton (costume designer) decide to decorate it in a hoop skirt for a much-needed rigidity break.

A narrative that begins with Indigenous archetypes and ancestral tales can’t solely be about our origins and legends – the place we started from 1000’s of years in the past – any greater than it could possibly finish with the horrors of residential colleges and their painful legacies. Miigis begins with a part of an Indigenous canon of tales that’s interrupted by an apocalypse and ends on an optimistic be aware: There’s at all times a brand new day, a brand new technology. Our tales are nonetheless being written.

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