‘Mōhiti E’: Empowering (Trans) Indigenous Performance

Valance Smith

Abstract


How might a collaborative performance staged across indigenous cultures – in this case Māori and Native American – be seen to create a shared wairua that leads to mārama? For this Symposium, Valance Smith (Ngāpuhi/Waikato) will compose a waiata as the starting point for a hoop dance choreographed and performed by Eddie Madril (Pascua Yaqui) from the Sewan American Indian Dance company. Waiata is, at its simplest, song. It is a vessel for a kaupapa, in the lyrics and also in its music, an embodiment of the singer’s mauri that, in the ideal, resonates in the listener. Hoop dancing has many purposes. It describes the complexities of life, expresses many aspects of the scientific nature of the world through the art form, and invokes the meaning behind the cycle of all living things. In bringing together two distinctive performance languages and cultures, we will be looking for common ground, exploring possible synergies and seeking an experience of the metaphysical in the physicality of our song and dance that can be translated back into a deeper understanding of the potential power of (trans) indigenous performance. How might such a shared, cross-cultural performance not only inform the way we think about the particular practices involved, but also challenge our assumptions about what it means, both in theory and in practice, to perform as Māori and as Native American?


Full Text: PDF