Rhodnie Désir | RD Créations

BOW’T TRAIL Retrospek

2023-03-17 20:00 2023-03-18 22:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Rhodnie Désir | RD Créations


In-person event

BOW’T TRAIL Retrospek, the flagship work in the BOW’T series, is a conversation between the present and the past delivered through the channel of choreographer Rhodnie Désir’s body, where more than 130 personal stories collected in seven lands of the Americas still reside. Since 2020, this landmark work and the artist’s pioneering choreographic–documentary approach have been showered with acclaim and honours.  Since its premiere at Espace Libre...

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Azrieli Studio,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
March 17 - 18, 2023

≈ 75 minutes · No intermission

Our programs have gone digital.

Scan the QR code at the venue's entrance to read the program notes before the show begins.

A Note From the Executive Producer, NAC Dance

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!"

—Rhodnie Désir

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."
—Dance Magazine

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


  • rodnie-desir-for-nac-bio
    Choreography, dancer, artistic direction and vocal compositions Rhodnie Désir
  • Musician Engone Endong
  • jahsun-rd-creyations-photo-kevin-calixte
    Musician Jahsun
  • manuel-chantre
    Video designer Manuel Chantre


BOW’T TRAIL Rétrospek

RD Créations, National Arts Centre, Ottawa

Creation partners
Canada Council for the Arts
Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec
Conseil des arts de Montréal
Espace Libre
Centre de création O'Vertigo

Choreography, dancer, artistic direction and vocal compositions
Rhodnie Désir

Engone Endong & Jahsun

Video designer
Manuel Chantre

Lighting designer
Juliette Dumaine

Lighting designer (accessories)
Jonathan Barro

Costume designer
Mélanie Fererro

Beatmaker and music composer
Engone Endong

Artistic Senior Consultant
Philip Szporer

Creative support
Isabelle Poirier
James Viveiros

Natalie Talbot 

Technical director
Romane Bocquet

NAC Dance Team

Executive Producer
Cathy Levy

Senior Producer
Tina Legari

Special Projects Coordinator and Assistant to the Executive Producer
Mireille Nicholas

Company Manager
Sophie Anka

Education Associate and Teaching Artist
Siôned Watkins

Technical Director
Brian Britton

Communications Strategist
Julie Gunville

Marketing Strategist
Marie-Chantale Labbé-Jacques