The Dance Current

Emily Solstice Tait

A catalyst for connection

- By saad rajper

EMILY SOLSTICE TAIT DESCRIBES HERSELF AS A CONNECTOR. Whether it’s to the theatre community or to Indigenous contempora­ry dancers outside of her hometown, Winnipeg, she believes connecting means supporting the work of others. “How do I engage beyond myself?” she wonders, describing the attention she pays to the networks she cultivates, always asking how she can best facilitate community.

Tait is currently an artist-in-residence at Young Lungs Dance Exchange’s Research Series. There, along with her collaborat­ors, Mark Dela Cruz and Neilla Hawley, she works to cultivate ways of researchin­g in a collaborat­ive and non-Western, nonhierarc­hical way. She reflects on the commitment of all three dancers to enrich their community and “to make sure that contempora­ry dance is living and breathing.”

Working with Indigenous artists is also important for Tait, who is of mixed settler and Ojibway heritage (Berens River

First Nation). Recently, she attended the Talking Stick Festival, a multidisci­plinary Indigenous arts festival in Vancouver, through a tech residency with The Dance Centre. “For me, it’s more like I’m trying to cultivate my sense of what it means to be making art from an Indigenous perspectiv­e,” she says. “I’m really enjoying going away to this festival, going away to work with people like matriarchs, who have been in this world longer than I have.”

Born in rural Manitoba, Tait got her start in the arts through the now defunct Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program, a theatre program ran by Columpa Bobb and Ryan Black. From there, she began taking recreation­al classes as a teenager, which put her in contact with the dancer and choreograp­her Sharon Moore of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Moore asked Tait to facilitate a movement workshop, and it was there that the two discussed Tait’s desire to be a dancer.

Tait began assisting Moore, wanting to be a “movement enthusiast.” “I didn’t know I could be a dancer at that point,”

Tait says. Hearing this, Moore set her up with an audition at

The School of Contempora­ry Dancers in Winnipeg for the junior profession­al program. Tait was accepted and just recently graduated from the school’s profession­al program. “I was super honoured that the doors were open to me, because I came from a non-dance background. The fact that people took the time to facilitate my connection to dance, I really honour that. I’m really thankful,” she says.

 ??  ?? Tait / Photo by Miguel Fortier; Tait in Sarasvàti Production­s’ FemFest / Photo by Janet Shum
Tait / Photo by Miguel Fortier; Tait in Sarasvàti Production­s’ FemFest / Photo by Janet Shum
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