This video documents an evening of music and dance by contemporary Native American and African American performers, presented at the Francisco Nunes theater in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as a part of the 5th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, titled Performing Heritage: Contemporary Indigenous and Community-Based Practices. This performance brings together four contemporary American performances drawing from the artists' cultural roots: Quetzal Guerrero (Native American violinist and dancer), Larry Yazzie (Meskwaki/ Dine World Champion Fancy Dancer), David Pleasant (African-American Gullah/Geeche percussion and song, performing with dancer Joyah Pugh), and Dancing Earth (Indigenous Modern Dance collective directed by Rulan Tangen, with the participation of Quetzal Guerrero, Anthony Thosh Collins and Alejandro Meraz). Quetzal Guerrero and Thosh Collins open the evening with a traditional chant from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa indian community, followed by Quetzal's original solo violin piece. Larry Yazzie then performs his dazzling powwow Fancy Dance from Tama, Iowa, followed by the energetic and powerful percussion of African American David Pleasant, who draws on rhythms dating back to slavery in the United States. Dancing Earth performs a dance piece about the creation of the earth, and the evening ends with all performers bringing together their traditions--and the audience--on stage. There is also a post-performance discussion with the artists, in which they talk about the origins and meanings of their performances.

Dancing Earth performance begins at the 00:30:20 mark.

Published in Dancing Earth: Works
Thursday, 08 July 2010 16:26

Interview with Pamyua (2005)

In this interview, conducted by Andrew McLean at the Hemispheric Institute 5th Encuentro (Belo Horizonte, 2005), Pamyua's four founding members (Stephen Blanchett, Phillip Blanchett, Ossie Kairaiuak and Karina Moeller) talk about their backgrounds, the origins of the band, and the ways their music blends traditional Yup'ik songs with African-American musical influences such as gospel, R&B, jazz and funk to create a unique new Native style.

Published in Additional Interviews

Mélange of music and dance by contemporary Native American and African American performers, presented at the Francisco Nunes theater in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as a part of the 5th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, titled Performing Heritage: Contemporary Indigenous and Community-Based Practices. This performance brings together four contemporary American performances drawing from the artists' cultural roots: Quetzal Guerrero (Native American violinist and dancer), Larry Yazzie (Meskwaki/ Dine World Champion Fancy Dancer), David Pleasant (African-American Gullah/Geeche percussion and song, performing with dancer Joyah Pugh), and Dancing Earth (Indigenous Modern Dance collective directed by Rulan Tangen, with the participation of Quetzal Guerrero, Anthony Thosh Collins and Alejandro Meraz). Quetzal Guerrero and Thosh Collins open the evening with a traditional chant from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa indian community, followed by Quetzal's original solo violin piece. Larry Yazzie then performs his dazzling powwow Fancy Dance from Tama, Iowa, followed by the energetic and powerful percussion of African American David Pleasant, who draws on rhythms dating back to slavery in the United States. Dancing Earth performs a dance piece about the creation of the earth, and the evening ends with all performers bringing together their traditions--and the audience--on stage. There is also a post-performance discussion with the artists, in which they talk about the origins and meanings of their performances.

Luisa Calcumil's 1987 solo show, Es bueno mirarse en la propia sombra is a plea for the preservation of Mapuche indigenous culture in the face of the homogenizing forces of globalization. 

The play opens with Calcumil's voice in the dark, introducing herself in the Mapuche language as 'a person of the earth.' We then see her as a grandmother singing in Mapuche and being killed by white invaders who destroy indigenous land and build nuclear dumps. Next is the story of Julia and her mother: in dire financial straits, Julia's mother is forced to send Julia to work in the city as a maid. After many years, she goes back for her, only to find out she?s left her job and given birth to a boy. Calcumil then transforms into Julia, dancing to pop music, wearing flashy clothes. Julia constantly tells herself, 'You're so beautiful, Julia!' 'Why think?' 'Your skin is whiter!' She wants to forget she was raped, forget where she came from, forget she is Mapuche. But even as she calls herself Julie and gets a Western education, her dead grandmother appears in her dreams singing traditional songs, relentlessly reminding her that she can't deny her roots.

This video documents Calcumil's performance at the Teatro da Cidade in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as a part of the 5th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, titled Performing Heritage: Contemporary Indigenous and Community-Based Practices

Coatlicue Theater Company produced a three-minute video demonstrating their storytelling/playwriting/theater workshops. Included in the footage are clips from a workshop held in Chiapas, Mexico. The companys workshops are divided into three parts. The first part is aimed at getting participants to open up to one another to begin to work collectively. Its devoted to exercising the body through sounds and movement to stimulate the imagination and awaken the body, mind, and spirit. The second part is designed to teach storytelling and involves exercises that develop trust, listening, and communication skills. Here the Colorado sisters demonstrate the different ways to tell a story, how to work together to tell a story, and listening to others tell a story. Participants are then taught how to incorporate their earlier exercises into the storytelling process and work on developing a theater piece.

Elvira and Hortencia Colorado, Chichimec Otomi storytellers, playwrights, performers and community activists are founding members of the Coatlicue Theatre Company. Based in New York City, they are also members of danza Mexica Cetiliztli, New York Zapatistas and the American Indian Community House. 'Caracol, Corazón de la Tierra, Flor de la Esperanza' was created after the Colorado sisters lived and worked with communities in five autonomous municipalities in Chiapas, México. Their text is weaved from the voices of the Zapatista indigenous women they encountered. It is a collage of their thoughts, stories and music: the fire of their resistance, struggle and hope for a better future. This play was performed at the Francisco Nunes theater in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as a part of the 5th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, titled Performing Heritage: Contemporary Indigenous and Community-Based Practices.

Published in Coatlicue: Works
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 16:56

Holding Up the Sky Excerpts (2006)

Holding Up the Sky is a series of theater skits addressing issues of borders and immigration at work in indigenous communities, ranging from the grotesque to the poignant, from the deeply personal to global issues devastating their communities. Distinctive elements of this performance are the use of humor in storytelling and the participation of audience members to 'hold up the sky' as inspired by Mayan mythology. Muriel Miguel (Spiderwoman Theater) contextualizes this event by talking about Coatlicue's long relationship with the American Indian Community House (www.aich.org), and the fact that this Indian Summer is the last series of performances at The Circle in the AICH's current location.

Published in Coatlicue: Works

Interview with Hortencia and Elvira Colorado, of Coatlicue Theater Company, conducted by Diana Taylor during the 4th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, celebrated in July of 2003 in New York, United States under the title Spectacles of Religiosities. Elvira and Hortencia Colorado, Chichimec Otomi storytellers, playwrights, performers and community activists are founding members of Coatlicue Theater Company. They are also members of danza Mexica Cetiliztli, New York Zapatistas and the American Indian Community House. The company's plays address social, political, cultural and identity issues that impact their lives and their community. Their work is based on stories they weave together which educate as well as entertain, while reaffirming their survival as urban Native American women. They have conducted storytelling/ theater workshops. They are recipients of the Ingrid Washinawatok Community Activism Award.

Published in Coatlicue: Interviews
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 15:46

Pamyua in Concert (2005)

Arctic's (from Alaska and Greenland) performance group Pamyua reinterprets modern traditions of the Inuit and Yup'ik Eskimo through storytelling, music and dance. Pamyua performs Yup'ik danced stories that portray the traditions of the Yup'ik culture in Southwestern Alaska. The quartet also harmonizes ancient and original music that redefine the boundaries of Inuit expression. Pamyua's mixes R&B, jazz, funk, and world music to create a unique new native style. The performances are very dynamic, ranging from traditional dances to Tribalfunk dances—worldmusic.


Additional Links

Pamyua in Concert (2005)
Interview with Pamyua (2005)
Pamyua on 2005 Hemispheric Institute Encuentro Website

Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:21

Big Mother: El Gran Desmadre (2002)

In this farcical cabaret performance, the "Four Horsewomen of Apocalypse" perform humanity's war against nature, in a "metaphysical" reflection on terrorism, surveillance, and the society of spectacle. After the terrorist attacks to New York on September 11, 2001, "a hope for war is reborn," along with the imminent and "longed annihilation of nature." A group of women volunteer to be locked up at Mega Corporation headquarters ("a product of the global fusion of the market of perfect self-competition"), in a sorts of "reality TV" show where metaphysical debates juxtapose with beauty contests, bureaucratic limbos, and theatrical last suppers. "Reach Your Metaphysics 2002" is a beauty pageant where the Four Horsewomen -representing Hunger, Epidemy, War, and Death- are confronted with philosophical questions: what is knowledge? Will? Conscience? The fate of the human species? The contestants then turn into secretaries of a government office where, between gossip and slaking off, they intend to finish their evaluation reports to Mega on how their Ministries (of Abundance, Peace, Truth, and Love) have contributed to the corporation's goal and achievement of "joyfully destroying" nature and humanity. The women then turn into a satiric version of Federico García Lorca's "House of Bernarda Alba" dramatic characters, in a supper where the daughters insist in getting Bernarda to tell them "The Truth" confesses that she is Mother Nature, the Big Mother, who created her offspring in order to mirror and contemplate herself. The kaleidoscopic play of gazes is thus multiplied, in a vortex of surveillance where Big Mother echoes Big Brother, both as George Orwell's "1984" dystopia and as Mexico's homonymous reality TV show. "Metaphysically aggravated," the Horsewomen murder Mother Nature and, left with a barren planet, embark in "a crusade against alien (extraterrestrial) terrorism."

Video Inserts: Performance video inserts for "Big Mother: El Gran Desmadre." Here included are: newscast footage of the terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center in New York City; a spot advertising and introducing Mega Corporation ("a product of the global fusion of the market of perfect self-competition") in its "crusade against terrorism;" three Mexican soap opera excerpts; an infomercial by a well-known Mexican actor; a mock newsflash on Big Mother's surveillance cameras (installed in order to observe the Mexican population, looking for possible terrorists against sovereignty of the State); and a spot of "Bernarda Alba's daughters" in a barren land, waving the Mexican flag. All these footage excerpts complement the show's "metaphysical" reflection on terrorism, surveillance, and the society of spectacle, in a sort of "reality TV" show where metaphysical debates juxtapose with beauty contests, bureaucratic limbos, and theatrical last suppers, searching for Truth amidst a war on Nature and Humanity.

Published in El Hábito: Works
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