Margaret Grenier, Executive and Artistic Director for the Dancers of Damelahamid, an Indigenous dance company from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia, presented Mînowin in the Azrieli Studio as part of the Mòshkamo Indigenous Arts Festival.
Margaret choreographed and performed in Mînowin, which was proudly presented as a collaboration between NAC Dance and NAC Indigenous Theatre. We asked Margaret a few questions about her collaboration with the NAC and what it meant to her.
Q: What does it mean to you to stage this performance as part of Mòshkamo?
I am very honoured to be part of such a significant moment, where space is being given to Indigenous arts in a way that hasn’t been done before. The festival showcases the beautiful diversity of Indigenous culture across Canada. Mînowin very much reflects West Coast art forms, including visual arts and dance.
Q: You received an investment from the NAC’s National Creation Fund. How did it help you to develop Mînowin into the performance it is today?
The investment allowed us to create the production on a larger scale than has been achieved to date. It gave us additional time for choreographic development and the opportunity to work with international collaborators Director Charles Koroneho and Dramaturg Peter Rockford Espiritu who have experience working with large scale productions. We also developed more interactive new media and introduced animation.
Q: Tell us about the inspiration for this work.
Minowin was the result of self-reflection. It is an exploration of how we work with story, which is fundamental to the dance form. Both the older and contemporary stories are about great loss and how we redefine ourselves to move forward.
Q: You work is grounded in traditional dance forms, in combination with elements of contemporary expression and videography. How does Dancers of Damelahmid’s use of traditional dance and origin stories, help to inspire future generations?
Each generation has their own work to do. This revitalization we are undergoing will lay the foundation for future generations, challenge them, and give them the opportunity to tell their stories.
Q: Which productions from Indigenous Theatre’s inaugural 2019–2020 season are you most excited about? (https://nac-cna.ca/en/indigenoustheatre/events/2019-2020 )
I am excited about the season as a whole; it is amazing to see the diversity being offered. I am not familiar with some of the productions, which underscores the need for this platform to connect us to one another.
Q: What message would you like to send to NAC supporters who helped bring Mînowin to the NAC stage?
I would like to reiterate the importance of the NAC’s initiative to introduce a department dedicated to Indigenous Theatre. It gives a diverse range of Indigenous artists the opportunity to perform on the national stage, and it gives prominence to Indigenous artists. It is a necessary program to be supported.