Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier) | The Ottawa Dance Weblog


Discovering Wolastoq Voice

Reviewed September 21, 2019

Azrieli Studio, Ottawa

(Repeat performances September 22 & 23, 8:00 p.m.)

finding wolastoq voice by matt carter

Dancer Aria Evans interprets Samaqani Cocahq’s Discovering Wolastoq Voice 

Indigenous artist Samaqani Cocahq-Natalie Sappier (The Water Spirit) launched a compelling new piece of dance theatre in Ottawa Friday night time that speaks gently however insistently of a younger Indigenous (Wolastoqiyik) girl’s journey to self-love.

This gem of a piece opens on a solitary observe, a wavelength that washes over the theatre in a soothing, peaceable tone, slowing down the heartbeat, lengthening the breath . . . and successfully introducing us to solo dancer Aria Evans, who enters the spectacular set, created by designer Mushkegowuk Cree/European Andy Moro. A member of the artistic staff on the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Dance Residency, Moro has set the stage for Discovering Wolastoq Voice with a big round platform, inset with channels of water and surrounded by a decrease round trench crammed with sand. His lighting washes the stage with heat, earthy tones, offering a way of the pure world and at instances one of many unseen spirit world.

And there, from the platform, we hear her intimate story. A voice narrative dominates the present, informing Evans’s actions. The phrases are fantastically poetic. They fall gracefully and with belief from the tongue. They take us, with out disgrace, into the deepest soul and the weak coronary heart of the protagonist.

finding wolastoq voice by matt carter 2Evans is pure, definitive grace, wearing shapeless white clothes that leaves the emphasis on her gestures of remembrance, her gradual deliberate actions and her harmless and hopeful facial features. As she climbs slowly onto the platform, performing a short ritual of wiping her ft, she brings us instantly into her world. We return to her childhood, the place she remembers eager to be a salmon.

She performs within the water. She turns into one with the water. She turns into the salmon, at one with its blood.

We observe her via her darkish, lonely childhood, when she hears the voices of her ancestors, the outdated songs that awaken her from a protracted sleep and information her gently via battle, abuse, confusion, despair and inevitably to a connection to residence and the waters the place her ancestors gathered, and finally to self-love.

“I used to suppose I used to be not Indian sufficient,” she recites. “However I’m. I’m right here and I’m awake now. I’ve slept for awhile however whereas I used to be sleeping I used to be seeing issues I wanted to recollect. I’m Indian sufficient . . . and once I dance, I dance with spirit . . . I’m right here and I’ve tales to inform.”

Discovering Wolastoq Voice is a part of the Mòshkamo arts competition, a celebration of the Nationwide Arts Centre’s first ever Indigenous theatre season. Historic because the world’s first nationwide Indigenous theatre of its type, the Indigenous Theatre is presenting works primarily based on, carried out or created by Indigenous artists from throughout Canada, sharing the tales and languages of their heritage. The 19-day Mòshkamo competition runs till September 29.

finding wolastoq voice by matt carter 3

Set and lighting design by Andy Moro

Nonetheless to come back (for info, see

Sept 24: Niishzhoowe, a singing duet, on the Glass Thorsteinson Staircase at midday (free)

Sept 25: a land-based calligraphy workshop with Mairi Brascoupe on the Atelier Shenkman Smith at 5 p.m.

Sept 25: Performer, composer and musicologist Jeremy Dutcher of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick’s daring strategy to forgotten Wolastoqiyik songs and tales (SOLD OUT)

Sept 25-27: Mura Buai (Everybody, Everybody), a dance manufacturing by Australian choreographer Ghenoa Gela, on the Glass Thorsteinson Staircase, at midday and 6:30 p.m. (free)

Sept 26: Innu author Florent Vollant, who just lately launched his album Mitsha Meshkenu (open highway), a mixture of nation folks and Tex-Mex flavours, on the Fourth Stage at 8:30 p.m.

Sept 26-28: Dancers of Damelahamid, an Indigenous dance firm from the Northwest coast of British Columbia, presents Mînowin within the Azrieli Studio at 8 p.m.

Sept 27: Métis composer Ian Cusson’s Le loup de Lafontaine, impressed by the legend of a wolf that terrorizes an outdated French-speaking village in Ontario, with groundbreaking visitor violinist Pekka Kuusisto performing Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason’s Violin Concerto, in Southam Corridor at 7 p.m.

Sept 27: Nunavut’s “brooding” Josh Qaumariaq and The Commerce-Offs singing the Arctic blues, a mix of Inuktitut and English lyrics, on the Fourth Stage at 8:30 p.m

Sept 28: Dancers of Damelahamid’s Margaret Grenier’s motion workshop specializing in the up to date coastal Indigenous dance kind, for all dancers aged 14 and older, within the Rossy Pavilion at 10:30 a.m.

Sept 28: An Indigenous Artwork Market within the O’Brien Atrium at midday (free), that includes jewellery, beadwork, mittens, moccasins and craftwork by Métis, Inuit and First Nations artists, from midday to six p.m.

Sept 28: Younger Panniqtuq, Nunavut electropop artist Riit on the Fourth Stage at 8:30 p.m.

Sept 29: Dance, music, theatre and craft workshops and actions for households within the O’Brien Atrium all through the afternoon, from 1 p.m. (free entry)



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