APAM 2016 and Indigenous Arts



APAM & the First Nations Exchange

For the first time, a formal exchange program between Indigenous artists and professionals from Australia, New Zealand and Canada took place at the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM), February 20 to 27, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. The Audience and Market Development Office of the Canada Council is happy to have partnered with the Australia Council for the Arts to support this program.

APAM is Australia’s leading, internationally focused industry event for contemporary performing arts. It is an exciting showcase of Australian and New Zealand performing artists and companies which features full performances, excerpt and pitch sessions held over five days. The event welcomes over 600 delegates and provides an opportunity to exchange ideas, develop collaborations and network with national and international presenters, agents and influencers. The Official Program of APAM 2016 began on Monday 22 February and concluded on Friday 26 February 2016. For a snapshot of what performances took place at APAM 2016, view the Official Program Trailer.

As a complementary activity to APAM, the Australia Council for the Arts hosted two capacity-building programs for Indigenous theatre and dance artists and professionals from Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Both capacity building programs delivered market development skills in the context of cultural protocols and Indigenous arts production. The Boot Camp program (21 & 27 February 2016) was geared for those relatively new to the arts market and with limited experience of APAM. The First Nations Exchange (20, 21 & 27 February 2016) was geared for senior Indigenous presenters and producers who have an international track record and are keen to work in the area of exchange.

By all reports the experience was very inspiring, enriching, and memorable.

Canadian Events

Monday 22 February

5:00 PM
Indigenous Welcome to Country
New Farm Park, Brisbane Powerhouse
Brisbane is situated on the Ancestral Homelands of the Turrbal, Ugarapul/Yugarapul and Jagera peoples, the Traditional Custodians of Australia. In keeping with their traditional practices APAM invites the visiting Indigenous peoples of Canada, New Zealand and Australia to participate in a ceremonial cultural exchange with their First Nation hosts.

Tuesday 23 February

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Utopia and the Institution: Socially Engaged Art Practices in the 21st Century (Talking Heads Series)
Ballroom 3, Sofitel Brisbane Central
Using a two-page commissioned provocation by Alex Winters (Open Engagement) as a starting point, this panel explores the complexities of creating and producing socially engaged art alone, with other people and various presenting and commissioning partners.
Moderated by Lenine Bourke (The Walking Neighbourhood), with Alex Winters, Libby Harward (Creative Inclusive), Sally Szwed (Creative Time) and Darren O’Donnell (Mammalian Diving Reflex, APAM 2016 Artist in Residence).

Wednesday 24 February

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Canadian Roundtable
Sofitel Grand Central (Hotel)
Focussed roundtable exploring the touring landscape of Canada.
Moderated by Judy Harquail and Sherrie Johnson

7:45 PM – 8:45 PM
Cris Derksen Showcase
Turbine Platform, Brisbane Powerhouse
Award winning Canadian Aboriginal cellist Cris Derksen is known for building layers of sound into captivating performances. Her music braids the traditional and contemporary in multiple dimensions, weaving her classical training and her aboriginal ancestry with new school electronics, creating genre defying music. Originally from the North Tall Cree reserve in northern Alberta, Cris composes for film and television, and tours extensively nationally and internationally, performing and recording with an impressive array of musicians, including recent projects with Buffy Sainte Marie, Tanya Tagaq, and Kinnie Starr. crisderksen.virb.com
Cris Derksen (cello), Nimkii Osawamick (dance) and Jesse Baird (drums)

10:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Function: A Night With Canada
Turbine Platform, Brisbane Powerhouse
The Canada Council for the Arts welcomes APAM delegates to meet and exchange with the Canadian artists, producers and presenters attending APAM.

Thursday 25 February

9:30 AM – 10:30 AM
Ballroom 2, Sofitel Brisbane Central
Zoom-in On CANADA introduces the voices and visions of Canada’s exciting and diverse presenters. This will be an opportunity for five presenters to share different perspectives and exchange information about the Canadian artists this group is most excited to introduce and connect to the global performing arts community.
Hosted by Sherrie Johnson (Canadian Stage) with Carolyn Warren (Banff Centre for the Arts), Norman Armour (PuSH Festival), Danièle de Fontenay (Usine C), Majdi Bou-Matar (MT Space) and Kathleen Merritt.

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
First Nations’ Perspectives: Exploring Australia’s Relationship to Indigenous Art and Culture through and with International Eyes (Talking Heads Series)

Ballroom 3, Sofitel Brisbane Central
The conversation surrounding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performance in Australia has been strongly asserted into the collective conversation in recent times. APAM 2016, welcomes a large number of international First Nations delegates from New Zealand and North America to join together in expanding the dialogue around engaging with First Nations artists and content.
Moderated by Lydia Miller (Australia Council for the Arts), with Ryan Cunningham (Native Earth), Hone Kouka (Tawata Productions), Rachael Maza (ILBIJERRI Theatre Company), and Santee Smith (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre).

Canadian Delegation

Santee Smith, Toronto

Santee Smith (Tekaronhiáhkhwa) is a performer, producer, choreographer from the Kahnyen’kehàka (Mohawk) Nation, Turtle Clan from Six Nations, Ontario. Santee attended Canada’s National Ballet School and holds Kinesiology and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and a MA in Dance from York University. In 1996, she created her first choreography for the National Film Board’s The Gift propelling her from academics to performance. Santee self-produced her first work Kaha:wi at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre in 2004. One year later she founded Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, a vehicle for her artistic work which lives at the intersection of Indigenous and new dance performance. Her repertoire includes 12 productions, 7 short works, many works for special events and film/video such the recent National Arts Centre’s I Lost My Talk. Santee is a recipient of awards including Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Choreography. Her artistic vision speaks to humanity, identity, embodied Indigenous practice generated from body, story, and place.

Ryan Cunningham, Toronto

Ryan Cunningham is Plains Cree/Metis from Edmonton, Albert Canada and the Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts, co-founder/producer of Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts, founding member of The Agokwe Collective, and co-producer of the award-winning production; Agokwe. He is a Board member of IPAA (Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance) and the CanDance Network. As an actor Ryan has worked in TV, Film & Theatre for two decades; most recently in the all Aboriginal cast of King Lear at the National Arts Centre of Canada. Ryan is a series regular on the award winning television series, Blackstone playing the role of Darcy Douglas in all 5 seasons.

Nigel Grenier, Vancouver

Nigel is of Gitxsan and Cree ancestry. He is a lead dancer and the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for Dancers of Damelahamid, an Aboriginal dance company based in Vancouver, BC. His role as a lead dancer for the company began with Sharing the Spirit (2007), and includes Visitors Who Never Left (2009), Dancing Our Stories (2010), Spirit and Tradition (2010), Spirit Transforming (2012), and In Abundance (2014). He has worked on major projects produced by the company including the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival and a regional tour of Spirit Transforming. He has completed a BA at the University of British Columbia in the History Honours Program. In 2008, Nigel placed first at the National Aboriginal Writing Challenge. Nigel has worked extensively with Indigenous youth as the student coordinator for the UBC Museum of Anthropology’s Native Youth Program, the Musqueam Youth Program, and CEDAR Sumer Camp.

Lara Kramer, Montreal

Lara Kramer is the choreographer and artistic director of Lara Kramer Danse, based in Montreal. Kramer is a First Nation choreographer and performer whose work is intimately linked to memory and her aboriginal roots. Her work has been presented in Montreal at the OFFTA, First Peoples Festival, Festival Vue Sur la Reléve, the MAI (Montreal arts intercultural) and Tangente, in Vancouver at Talking Stick Festival, Dancing on the Edge, in Ottawa at Canada Dance Festival, in Toronto at Planet IndigenUS and Native Earth Performing Arts, at The Banff Centre, at Public Energy in Peterborough, New Dance Horizons in Regina, and at Alberta Aboriginal Arts and The Expanse Movement Arts Festival in Edmonton. Her acclaimed work Fragments (2009), inspired by her mother’s stories of the Indian Residential Schools of Canada, has brought her recognition as “Canada’s bright new talent”. She has been on the faculty of the Indigenous Dance Residency at The Banff Centre and has taught workshops in Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Toronto and London, ON.

Tara Beagan, Toronto

Tara writes, directs, produces and acts in theatre. She grew up in a story-loving home. Her Ntlaka’pamux mom has always been an avid reader, and her Irish-Canadian dad took her to the library weekly. Her older sister Rebecca (now a teacher) taught her the alphabet after learning it in kindergarten, and her younger brother Patrick (lighting designer/theatre administrator) created worlds and characters with her, sharing an interest in enacting stories. She is a proud auntie to Diana and Owen. Tara is now happy in work with her love, Andy Moro, co-helming Indigenous Arts Activist Company ARTICLE 11. More work credits can be found at tarabeagan.com

Andy Moro, Toronto

Andy is a multi-award winning mixed-Euro/Omushkego Cree designer based in Toronto. Andy has most recently collaborated with Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Red Sky Performance, and the Gitxsan Dancers of Damelahamid. He has been core creative faculty for the Indigenous Dance Residency at The Banff Centre since 2012. He is co-founder and director, with Tara Beagan, of ARTICLE 11. Their performative installation DECLARATION has been featured at the National Arts Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum. In Spirit was featured at Planet IndigenUs in Toronto this summer and at Performing Turtle Island in Regina in collaboration with the Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre in the fall. This spring, ARTICLE 11 will premiere their anticipated work Reckoning - an inter-disciplinary triptych tackling layers of fallout from the recently resolved Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Emilie Monnet, Montreal

Emilie Monnet
Interdisciplinary artist Emilie Monnet founded Onishka Productions in 2011 to present performance-based work created from unique collaborations between artists of different cultures and disciplines. Combining theatre, performance and media arts forms, her work explores the interconnections between identity, language, memory and imagination; telling stories that weave the symbolic realms of dreams and mythology - both personal and collective. A graduate of Ondinnok’s theatre training program in partnership with the National Theatre School of Canada (Montreal, 2007), Emilie also studied media arts and holds a Masters in Peace Building and Conflict Resolution from Deusto University, Spain and from Uppsala University, Sweden. Emilie’s roots are Anishinabe and French and she lives in Montreal. onishka.org

Kathleen Merritt (IVA), Iqualuit

Canadian Inuit throat-singer Kathleen Ivaluarjuk Merritt (IVA) will take you on a journey through the Arctic with vocal interpretations of the wind, birds, land and sea. IVA performs Inuit throat singing and poetry infused with Celtic influence folk music. Her debut album Ice, Lines & Sealskin (2015) is a reflection of her love for collaboration. IVA has shared the stage with world musicians including throat singer Tanya Tagaq, DJ Spooky, the National Art Centre Orchestra, Susan Aglukark and Australian didgeribone player Tjupurru. She is also a teacher of this ancient art, and works with schools and music programs to teach throat singing and facilitate workshops that encourage youth to create, collaborate and build skills and confidence through music, art and identity.

Starr Muranko, Vancouver

Starr Muranko is a dancer/choreographer & Artistic Associate with Raven Spirit Dance. Her choreographic work has been presented at the Dance Centre, Dance in Vancouver, Dancing on the Edge, Talking Stick Festival, Crimson Coast Dance Society and the Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival. She is a proud member of the Dancers of Damelahamid and has toured across Canada and internationally to New Zealand, Peru and Ecuador. She has trained and performed internationally at the School for Performing Arts in Ghana, West Africa and holds a BFA in Dance/Cultural Studies from SFU’s School for Contemporary Arts. She has presented her research at the World Indigenous People’s Conference in Education (WIPCE) and the Dance Alliance of the Americas Conference and serves as a board member for the Scotiabank Dance Centre and as president for CADA/West (Canadian Alliance for Dance Artists). Starr celebrates her mixed heritage of Cree/Metis and German in all of her work.

Nimkii Osawamick, Manitoulin Island

Nimkii Osawamick is an Anishnaabe dance artist from Wikwemikong, Unceed Reserve, and is a member of the Wolf Clan. Nimkii has been dancing since the age of three years old. Now an active community member in powwow circles, Nimkii is well-known as a singer, hoop dancer, and champion powwow dancer. He has travelled extensively across North America sharing his gift of singing and dancing with the peoples of Turtle Island. Nimkii has previously worked with the Nozhem Theatre at Trent University as a dance artist, which has opened many doors for him into the performance world. Nimkii founded Dedicated Native Awareness (DNA) Stage to help bridge the cultural gap between First Nations people and inhabitants. dnastage.com

Majdi Bou-Matar, Waterloo

Majdi Bou-Matar is a theatre director and performer who immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 2003. He holds an MA degree in Drama from the University of Guelph with research focus on Canadian intercultural theatre. Majdi has directed several productions in Beirut and has been an active participant in several theatre, television, and film projects in the Middle East and Tunisia. An active member of the Waterloo Region art community, Majdi founded TheMulticultural Theatre Space (MT Space) in 2004. At MT Space he has directed Three-Legged Horse, Seasons of Immigration, Yes or No, Exit Strategy and The Last 15 Seconds. Majdi is also the Artistic Director of IMPACT, a biennial international theatre festival in the Waterloo Region.

Guylaine Normandin (Director, Theatre, Canada Council), William Lau (Program Officer, Dance, Canada Council), Judy Harquail (Arts consultant) and Sherrie Johnson (Canadian Stage) accompanied the delegation.

Other Canadians at APAM included: