≈ 75 minutes · No intermission
The powerful presence of Rhodnie Désir is the driving force behind this exceptional work, BOW’T TRAIL Rétrospek. Rhodnie approaches each of her choreographic creations with intense research and purpose, and in this piece, she has immersed herself with African cultures and rhythms inherent to the peoples deported to the Americas over centuries. Her BOW’T TRAIL project first launched in 2013, making these NAC performances a celebration of 10 years of extensive touring, as well as an accompanying exhibition, youth project, film documents, and many awards and acknowledgements. Rhodnie’s incandescent passion sweeps you up into her layered journey. This is a work of beauty and bravery, and I am so pleased to welcome Rhodnie Désir for her NAC Dance debut!
Last updated: March 15, 2023
"Resistance allows you to be born. Resistance is necessary in a society, and it’s also necessary if one is not to wither, if one is to live!"
BOW’T (boat) is derived from the word “bow” as the forefront of a ship, to bend the head or body, while also signifying in Haitian creole “to give.”
With strength and a cry for freedom, Rhodnie Désir addresses the timelines and the psychological impact of migration and deportation. Drawing on history, she builds a bridge to today by embodying this movement that marks our modern world's foundation. Onstage, three wooden benches, hanging boats and a maestro drummer encapsulate the soloist as she weaves a candid narrative, an arousing and poetic work inspired by the intensity of thousands of people who continue to sail to the land of the unknown.
Rhodnie travels the Americas to learn the history of her ancestors through the art of dance and invites us to reflect on the political nature of Afro-descendant dances and rhythms. As the BOW'T TRAIL visits Martinique, Haiti, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the United States, each destination gives rise to a new experience. Learn more about the different stopovers.
Haiti: Combining the local rhythms of the voodoo tradition with her repertoire, this remarkable collaboration gives the journey a human and spiritual dimension that amplifies the choreographer's creativity.
Brazil: The slave trade has left an indelible mark on the history of Brazil. Inequalities of colonization oppress the Black population. In this economic and socio-cultural context, dance becomes a political tool.
Halifax: Anger rumbles, but optimism floats on the horizon. A duality permeates the conversations that moved Rhodnie during her trip to Halifax. From the arrival of the first Black Loyalists from the United States to the importation of people taken from Africa, this Canadian city has a history that the history books have too long obscured.
Mexico: African culture is present, but much is missing. Afro-descendant communities established in Mexico are trying to re-establish the existence of their culture. Through art, their actions contribute to shedding light on colonial history and the heroic community members before them.
New Orleans: A coveted tourist destination, New Orleans presents a dichotomous face. More than 60 years after the civil rights movement, the socio-economic reality of the Black population still bears the scars of latent and systemic racism. Yet, despite this, the community remains determined not to be set up to fail.
Tio’tia:ke (Montreal): Rhodnie returns to her native Montreal after travelling across America to unveil a poignant territorial excavation. Using her body and reinterpreting it as an arresting dance of life, she passionately reclaims the outdoor spaces laced with colonial memory, reckoning with the city's slave trade past and transforming this ignominy into a cathartic gesture that affirms life.
Surrounded by majestic rhythms, Rhodnie Désir performs on stage with two maestro musicians, Engone Endong and Jahsun. The audience draws into her travel universe through video projections and memories surrounding her body.
This performance has achieved the highest honours: the Grand Prix and the Envol Award (Prix de la danse de Montréal 2020), "25 to Watch" from the Dance Magazine of New York and a career nomination "Award of Merit for achievement in the performing arts" from APAP NY (2021).
"A kind of spiritual historian, Rhodnie Désir reveals ancestral truths in her own Haitian foundations through the rhythms of drum and dance."
In collaboration with Radio Canada and directed by Marie-Claude Fournier, discover the BOW'T TRAILweb documentary. Experience a powerful journey through the Afro-descendant dances and rhythms of the Americas and follow choreographer Rhodnie Désir as she travels on the trail of her ancestors' history.
For more information, please visit: https://ici.tou.tv/bowt-trail
Visual new media artist, composer and production director based in Montreal— Manuel Chantre creates sculptures, installations, performances by including light, video projection, music, interactivity and digital fabrication. Since 2004, his works have been created for renowned international institutions in media art, art galleries, events, public art, commercial projects, and private collections.
He showed his works at over 70 events and exhibitions presented by internationally renowned institutions such as the Society for arts and technologies SAT (CA), the City of Montreal, the International Digital Art Biennal in Montreal (CA), Mutek (CA), the Mapping Festival (CH), Filux Festival (MX), File Electronic Language International Festival (BR) and Toronto Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (CA) amongst other.
Chantre explores the memory, the identity and spaces that are inhabited, imagined, immaterial or virtual made by human being. His works are at the crossroads of contemporary optical art, fiction and commentary. He seeks to further explore the three-dimensional narrative properties permitted by translucent multi-screen projections, immersive environments, light beams, translucent structures as well as dome and panoramic screens.
RD Créations, National Arts Centre, Ottawa
Canada Council for the Arts
Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec
Conseil des arts de Montréal
Centre de création O'Vertigo
Choreography, dancer, artistic direction and vocal compositions
Engone Endong & Jahsun
Lighting designer (accessories)
Beatmaker and music composer
Artistic Senior Consultant
Special Projects Coordinator and Assistant to the Executive Producer
Education Associate and Teaching Artist