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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Exploring reclamation and identity in Vástádus eana – The answer is land

DanceHouse and Dancers of Damelahamid present the politically-charged and spiritually-centred work by Indigenous Sámi choreographer and filmmaker Elle Sofe Sara.

DanceHouse and Dancers of Damelahamid present the politically-charged and spiritually-centred work Vástádus eana – The answer is land by Indigenous Sámi choreographer and filmmaker Elle Sofe Sara.

Choreographed by Sofe Sara, the full-length work is an exploration and reclamation of the central tenets of Sámi cultural identity: community and kinship between people and nature. Sámi people are Indigenous to Sápmi, the traditional territory that spans the northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, including modern-day Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia.

Featuring seven Sámi and Norwegian women performers who combine ritualized movement with polyphonic yoiks – traditional mountain songs – from composer Frode Fjellheim, the piece takes inspiration from a poem that foregrounds the relationship between the Sámi people and their homeland. It speaks to the strength and resilience of the Sámi people, as well as the community’s generational trauma caused by hundreds of years of colonialism and forced assimilation.

“This work is like nothing we have ever experienced before at DanceHouse,” says Jim Smith, artistic and executive director of DanceHouse. “Through a radical act of resilience, the performers open the evening by guiding the audience through a traditional spiritual practice outdoors before shepherding them into the theatre. By reframing the Western theatre-going experience, we are invited to be active participants in the performers’ restorative journey toward reclaiming their Indigenous identity and traditional customs.”

“For Indigenous communities from around the world, artistic practices such as storytelling, singing, and dancing are an integral part of the celebration and preservation of a people’s cultural identity and overall well-being,” adds Margaret Grenier, artistic director of Dancers of Damelahamid. “Sharing these practices offers a deep sense of healing and reclamation over their spiritual practices, and offers the opportunity to rebuild community and connection to the natural world.”

DanceHouse and Dancers of Damelahamid present Vástádus eana – The answer is land on February 23 & 24 at the Vancouver Playhouse (600 Hamilton St, Vancouver). Visit dancehouse.ca for tickets and information.

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