Rosy Simas

Rosy Simas is Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Heron Clan) choreographer who unifies physical movement with time-based media, sound and objects for both stage and installation.

A Native feminist, Simas critically centers Native cultural and political persistence to engage the personal and social, including identity, matriarchy, sovereignty, equality and the effects of war. To complement these themes, she makes dances that decolonize bodies and develop movement vocabularies with the ability to oscillate between indigenous and eurocentric movement. By challenging contemporary dance conventions, she is advocating for the inclusion of an indigenous worldview.

Simas has been honored by the Native community with a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship (2013), a First Peoples Fund Fellowship (2016), Tiwahe Foundation's American Indian Family Empowerment Program Fund grant (2014, 2016), and residencies at the Banff Centre Indigenous Arts Program (2013), Oneida Nation Arts Program (2013, 2010), All My Relations Arts (2014, 2018), Full Circle's Talking Stick Festival (2012, 2014), and Institute of American Indian Arts' Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (2014).

Simas is a Guggenheim Fellow (2015) and McKnight Choreography Fellow (2016). Her work has been supported nationally by New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Dance Project (NDP) Production (2013, 2017), and Tour (2015) Awards, MAP Fund (2017), and National Performance Network Creation & Development Fund (2015).

Her solo, We Wait In The Darkness, has been presented at venues such as: ODC (San Francisco); Dance Place (Washington D.C.); Maui Arts & Cultures Center; MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels); The Autry (Los Angleles); The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago; SUNY Fredonia; Gimaajii-Mino-Bimaadizimin (Duluth); and the Living Ritual Festival (Toronto). It will tour to DANSEM in Marseille in November 2017.

Her work Skin(s) has toured to the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Intermedia Arts, La Peña Cultural Center and EastSide Arts Alliance. Upcoming presentations for Skin(s) include the Cultural Center of Chicago, Gimaajii-Mino-Bimaadizimin in Duluth and Northwestern University in Evanston.

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.

  • Photos Coming Soon
Collaborators in Residence: Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhran [Writer/Multimedia Artist], François Richomme [Composer], George Stamos [Performer], Heid E. Erdrich [Writer/Filmmaker], Pramila Vasudevan [Dramaturg], Sam Mitchell [Performer], Valerie Oliverio [Performer], Zoë Klein [Performer]

Featured Artist

Okwui Okpokwasili

Poor People's
TV Room

Feb 8 - 11


Click to close x