e92 santee smith – about SKéN:NEN and interconnectedness

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My conversation with indigenous multidisciplinary artist Santee Smith, artistic director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre on Dec 10, 2021 in Tkaronto at a CPAMO panel about art and climate where Santee talks her new post-apocalyptic work in progress ‘SKéN:NEN’, ecological calendars, permaculture and more.  

Santee Smith (Tekaronhiáhkhwa/Picking Up The Sky) is a multidisciplinary artist from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Turtle Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River. Transformation, energetic exchange and creating mind-heart connections through performance is her lifelong work. Santee trained at Canada’s National Ballet School; holds Physical Education and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and a M.A. in Dance from York University. Premiering her first production Kaha:wi – a family creation story in 2004, one year later she founded Kaha:wi Dance Theatre which has grown into an internationally renowned company. Santee approaches her life and work in a sacred manner and the importance of sharing our gifts with others. Through her Onkwehonwe’neha creative process, Santee’s work speaks to identity and humanity, role and responsibility of artists in community. She is a sought-after teacher and speaker on the performing arts, Indigenous performance and culture. Smith is the 19th Chancellor of McMaster University.

I’ve known Santee over the years as a great dance artist, an exceptional leader and tireless advocate for indigenous arts and culture. I had the honour of moderating the CPAMO National Cultural Policy and arts in Response to Climate Change panel on December 10, 2021 (along with Anthony Garoufalis-Auger, episode 93 and Devon Hardy, episode 94).

Santee spoke of her creative work in and around environmental issues, notably her new post-apocalyptic work in progress, SKéN:NEN and answered questions from the audience, including her use of ecological calendars and interest in permaculture. I would have liked to have a follow up conversation with Santee to enrich this episode, but this not possible at this time and will be for another day. For now, I invite you to listen in to this insightful presentation by Santee. Unfortunately, the audio quality is not optimal (recorded on a laptop via Zoom). Please note that there is a short passage at 8 minutes where Santee introduces herself that has some distortion that is resolved at 8 minutes 35 seconds. Please see the bio above for this missing information. 

This is one of 6 episodes recorded during the Gathering Divergence Multi-Arts Festival & Conference Fall 2021 | Art in the Time of Healing: The Importance of IBPOC Arts in Planetary Renewal event from December 8 to 10, 2021 in Toronto.

The others are:

  • episode 90, a conversation with dance artist, choreographer, director and embodiment facilitator Shannon Litzenberger and reading her State of Emergence: Why We Need Artists Right Now essay
  • episode 91, my conversation with Keith Barker, artistic director of Native Earth Performing Arts, including a reading of his new 5 minute Climate Change Theatre Action play, Apology, My at the end of this episode
  • episode 93, a presentation (including audience questions) by Anthony Garoufalis-Auger from the National Cultural Policy and arts in Response to Climate Change panel
  • episode 94, a presentation (including audience questions) by Devon Hardy from the National Cultural Policy and arts in Response to Climate Change panel
  • episode 95, my conversation with CPAMO Executive Director Charles Smithand artistic programmer Kevin Ormsby from a keynote address including excerpts from their conversation about the Living in the Skin I am In: Experiential Learnings, Approaches and Considerations Towards Anti-Black Racism in the Arts publication  

Links mentioned in this episode:

Santee Smith. Claude Schryer, Anthony Garoufalis-Auger-Auger and Devon Hardy at CPAMO National Cultural Policy and arts in Response to Climate Change panel, December 10, 2021, Toronto

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