DanceWorks, Toronto’s longest-running contemporary dance series, is proud to present the world premiere of from thine eyes, co-produced by Signal Theatre and Native Earth Performing Arts (NEPA). This dance-theatre work brings together two Aboriginal artists for the first time: Michael Greyeyes, Artistic Director of Signal Theatre (choreographer), and Yvette Nolan (writer), former Artistic Director of Native Earth.
The powerful piece examines mortality, memory and forgiveness and runs September 22-24 at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre. from thine eyes is set in the space between the land of the living and that of the dead, where six characters struggle to find meaning at the end of their lives as they confront their deepest fears, most cherished memories and each other.
The title, taken from a passage in the Qu’ran, “Lift the veil from thine eyes,” references the idea that only when we are ready to make the passage from this life into the next, can we see ourselves and each other truthfully.
Some of Toronto’s top dancers – Michael Caldwell, Luke Garwood, Ceinwen Gobert, Sean Ling, Shannon Litzenberger and Claudia Moore – perform four separate troubled stories lensed through contemporary indigenous dance expression, with each setting deconstructing into the next as more and more elements are stripped away.
A solitary man in a church reminisces on his life of addiction, theft, lies and violence, haunted by his sickening attack upon a minister, while beside him shadowy figures move bones from a massive mound of earth.
In a decaying home, a husband relives his relentlessly brutal relationship with his wife in a repeating pas de deux that inevitably ends in violence, forcing her to make the decision to endure beside him or move forward alone.
Blood slowly appears on a clean stage as a couple desperately tries to wipe it away, futilely trying to hide the grief of miscarriages that is tearing them apart. Their only solace is imagining the daughter as she might have been, speaking to her until she appears before them dancing. They join her rapturously, bathed in the blood of a birth that never happened.
In a hospital trauma ward, an aging doctor is haunted by three patients she has lost during her career; they greet her as she begins her own journey into the land of the dead.
With each story, each setting, we realize these memories and dreams are constructed by the characters as their final keepsake of the life they are leaving. And by imagining them, they strip themselves naked; ready at last to pass through the veil and see their own truths.
Michael Greyeyes is an actor, director, choreographer and educator. He is an associate professor at York University and Artistic Director of Signal Theatre. He performed as a classical ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and Eliot Feld of New York City; and is a member of the Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. Signal Theatre explores both physical and text-based theatre. The company is inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural, creating work that reflects and privileges indigenous knowledges as well as international creation methodologies that situate physical rigour and exploration at the centre of the work.
Native Earth Performing Arts is dedicated to creating, developing and producing professional artistic expressions (theatre, dance, multi-disciplinary) of the Aboriginal experience in Canada. Native Earth seeks to operate on the traditional values of courage, generosity, tolerance, strength of character, patience, humility and wisdom. Playwright and director Yvette Nolan, 2011 George Luscombe Award recipient, was born in Saskatchewan to an Algonquin mother and an Irish immigrant father and helmed NEPA from January 2003 to February 2011. http://www.nativeearth.ca
DanceWorks presents from thine eyes, co-produced by Native Earth Performing Arts and Signal Theatre Choreographed and directed by Michael Greyeyes, Written by Yvette Nolan
Movement dramaturgy by Kate Alton, Music composed by Miquelon Rodriguez
Performed by Michael Caldwell, Luke Garwood, Ceinwen Gobert,
Sean Ling, Shannon Litzenberger, Claudia Moore
Set design by Jackie Chau, Lighting design by Ron Snippe Vocal coaching by Katherine Duncanson,
Costume design by Sharon Hann, Stage management by Sarah O’Brien
Part of Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps, Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W.
Thursday, September 22 – Saturday, September 24, 2011 8PM
Tickets: Adults $28 & $23 (Students/Seniors $18 & $15) plus applicable charges.
Harbourfront Centre Box Office: 416-973-4000 OR online at www.danceworks.ca
This piece contains mature subject matter.