McKnight Artist Fellow | February 25 - March 5, 2018 // April TBD
Rosy Simas comes to MANCC for the first time to develop Weave, a project that will craft and share stories through Simas’ embodied lens as a Native artist. Honoring the interwoven nature of our world, Simas will bring individual histories together to create a performance that envelops the audience in an immersive experience of story, dance, moving image, and sound. Simas brings together interdisciplinary artists to model what is possible when people work together to further a Native American choreographic vision.
“When Native artists create work for Native audiences—a natural process prior to colonization—we disrupt expectations about who is deemed worthy and appropriate to receive the gift of art. When broader audiences are welcomed into that space of creation, alongside Native people for whom the work was created, there is a deepened intimacy, a conversation shared, the universal revealed through the specific.” – Simas
Simas is asking critical questions regarding her relationship to the Native communities she is engaging, her relationship to non-Native audiences, and what it is to create dance for western constructs from a Native world view.
“What can Native cultures teach non-Native audiences about art in less transactional, and more relational ways? How can I interrupt normative notions that performance by Native artists and artists of color must merely educate people? How can we break barriers between people of different experiences to diminish the cultural voyeurism that can happen when less diverse audiences engage the work of Native choreographers and choreographers of color?”
Simas work employs a Native circular model of creation (birth-life-death-birth). She works with other artists cyclically (research-rehearsal-performance-research), engaging Native and non-Native community participation in multiple cities. Simas continually loops in new information, allowing her to disrupt conventional performance expectations by making work that is always evolving, with local audience interactions reshaping the work.
Weave will be created in a site-specific way for each community in which it tours. For Simas, site-specific means more than location. Further, it is the community that occupies the space, the territory, and the Native history of the place.
While at MANCC, Simas will experiment with her collaborators in a week-long residency to create a site-specific iteration of the work for Tallahassee.
As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Simas and her collaborators will be joined by Ahimsa Bodhran, Ph.D. candidate of American Studies at Michigan State University whose research is focused on queer Indigenous literature, art, and thought; and Heid Erdich a Native poet and scholar based in Minnesota. This initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to support the re-imaging of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms.
This residency is supported, in part, by a partnership with McKnight Choreographer Fellowships, funded by The McKnight Foundation and administered by The Cowles Center For Dance & The Performing Arts.