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Rosy Simas “We Wait in the Darkness” Dance Preview – Dancing to Heal the Generations

By Amy Munice

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In Minneapolis, where the holiday formerly known as Columbus Day is now called Indigenous Peoples Day and where choreography and dance have a thriving audience, Rosy Simas’ unique contribution to the dance scene is relatively well-known and widely respected. 

 

A one-time science student, practitioner of the Klein technique for body re-education, daughter of the Seneca Nation, and accomplished choreographer/dancer—Simas is bringing all these facets of her identity to bear on The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago (1306 South Michigan) October 16, 17 & 18, 2014  – 8:00PM Chicago premiere of her heralded work, “We Wait in the Darkness”.

 

 

Simas says, ““Recent scientific study verifies what many Native people have always known, that traumatic events in our ancestors lives are in our bodies, blood and bones. These events leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA. Our grandmother’s tragic childhood can trigger depression or anxiety in us, but we have the ability to heal these DNA encodings and change that trait for future generations.”

 

 

Although “We Wait in the Darkness” speaks to the Seneca nation’s history through the lens of her grandmother’s story, Simas clarifies that she did not set out to make a piece about being Native.  Simas says, “I make work about a lot of different things.  For this piece I was interested in my grandmother’s life and my Seneca family—part of my identity.  My upbringing, my culture, and everything I inherit from my family is part of my work because when you are an artist this is the place where your artistic process begins and how you interact with other people.  My work is Native because I am Native, even if I am choreographing a piece about the Iraq War or a color.

 

 

“…It’s important to me to share this work showing a piece of contemporary Native life to the greater population.   Native people are contemporary people—just as living and contemporary as anyone.  Some ideas of us are caught up in the past—with people using words like ‘preservation’ and ‘historical’…

 

 

“As I was making this piece I was uncovering stories about my grandmother’s life and using those stories to connect to her with my body, through movement and my intention. ..My matrilineal side is my Seneca side and when I’m in this piece I’m connecting with them.

 

“..The tragic things that happen to grandparents leave scars on our DNA.  We can heal these scars through our own actions….Maybe I can heal these scars by being able to tell the story in the way I know—that is, through abstract contemporary dance. ..Maybe too I can bring more awareness of the kinds of things that happened to the Seneca people.

 

“…It’s timely that we are presenting ‘We Wait in the Darkness’ this week in Chicago, given that other cities have already changed ‘Columbus Day’ to ‘Indigenous Peoples Day’.  It’s a good time to help raise awareness of Native issues and it’s important to help Native people in Chicago raise their visibility to the larger community.”

 

Unlike other works Simas has choreographed, she has chosen to provide much of the backstory of the Seneca people in the program notes for this performance.

There will also be a post-performance conversation on Thursday October 16.

 

Simas’ companion art exhibit, “All My Relations:  A Seneca History” opened on September 27 at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian (3001 Central Street, Evanston) and will run through April 15.

 

The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.

 

October 16–18, Thursday–Saturday at 8 p.m.

 

For tickets or information call 312-369-8330 or visit the The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago website.

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Published on Oct 14, 2014

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