Red Sky at night
World premiere of Trace at Berkeley Street Theatre this month
The Pleiades are a cluster of celestial bodies containing middleaged, hot B-type stars. It is located in the constellation of Taurus. But the Anishinaabe people know it by another name, the Seven Sisters. And it was in this constellation that humankind was born.
Delving into Indigenous cosmology and origin stories is the backdrop for the latest production by groundbreaking Toronto dance company Red Sky Performance.
Trace gets its world premiere this month as part of the Canadian Stage season. It runs from Nov. 1 to 11 at the Berkeley Street Theatre.
“I was thinking about what our origin story is, where we come from and how different cultures look at that,” says Sandra Laronde, the founder and creative director at Red Sky.
“The Indigenous perspective is very similar to the big bang theory, only it’s a big bang with a purpose behind it.”
Laronde also wanted to explore the idea of trace, tracing an outline, and tracing things back to their origin.
For her, Laronde grew up in a creative family of artists and musicians from the TemeAugama-Anishinaabe in Temagami, Ontario — a land that is home to 1,600 islands, thousands of kilometres of shoreline and approximately 500 people.
It’s a land that piqued her imagination and continues to inform her work to this day.
Last season for Canadian Stage, Red Sky premiered Backbone, inspired by Indigenous cartography.
“I am deeply inspired by the transformational power of nature, and I mean that in a very electric way as opposed to how we often perceive nature,” she says.
Trace will feature six dancers and three musicians accompanying with an original score.
Red Sky is known for its very physical and sumptuous performances, and Laronde says this will once again be the case. But, new this time around is an expanded use of lighting and video, which she says will be much more animated and three dimensional.
Laronde founded the company 18 years ago and has become one of the central voices in a burgeoning Indigenous cultural renaissance growing by the day.
“Some of the most exciting artistry coming out of Canada is being created by Indigenous peoples in a lot of different artistic forms,” she says.
“When you look at what is deeply Canadian and what is deeply inspired by this soil, it comes from Indigenous peoples. We are not out to imitate a form. We really want to find a new way, which is really a very old way.”
For ticket information, go to Canadianstage.com.
Red Sky is known for its physical performances