Making Native Space in Dance:
How we can make space for each other in dance
A few days ago we celebrated "National Dance Day". It got me thinking about dance and who are usually engaged in this (elite) activity. I'd like to share with you my thoughts on dance and how we can all make space for each other.
I just recently started calling myself a dancer. I’ve been dancing pow wow styles ever since I was 2 years old. My parents put me into all sorts of classical and contemporary dance classes when I was younger, I even took up ballroom dancing during my post secondary years . I love to dance. I teach both traditional and contemporary dance, and yet, I did not call myself a dancer until a couple of years ago. Even now I struggle calling myself a dancer.
I think I know why; it’s a deep wound that I hide away. It’s a wound that tagged along with intergenerational trauma and shame. Finding a safe space for my dance was hard, correction, is hard. In this whitewashed world of dance, making space for Native dancers is something I’ve watched my parents struggle with for years, decades. It is something I struggle with and it will be something my children will struggle with.
However it will be a little bit easier for my children, just like it is a little bit more easy for me than with my parents. Every generation has paved a way for native space in the dance world.
Making space in dance for Indigenous people is hard. It means you had to be so amazing, so brilliant, so damn good that a non-dancer sits up and takes notice. Or it means that maybe a Non-Indigenous dancer stepped back and said have some of my space. But the latter rarely happens. When I see a space for Indigenous people, a tiny space where we can use our traditional knowledge on dance, our movements, our breath. I am overjoyed and proud, so so proud. In this space I want to live, I want my children to live, I want to take up this space a let it consume me because here, I finally belong.
To my moniyaw (non-native) dancers, when you see a space like this, step back.
You have all that space over there, let us have this, let us take up this space.
This is Making Native Space in Dance.