Matriarchs Uprising Festival

The 5th edition of Matriarchs Uprising Festival features new contemporary Indigenous dance works from Atamira Dance Company, O.Dela Arts + Pepper’s Ghost Media Collective, Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre, Samantha Sutherland, Sophie Dow, Vancouver DTES Grandmother’s Collective and more! The week of Feb. 13–18 will include masterclasses, community workshops and Talking Truths circle conversations both at the Scotiabank Dance Centre and online.

“As we witness Indigenous people around the world rise up to confront colonial power structures, I am inspired by these women who use their artistry to hold space for past, present and future in artistic presentations. Matriarchs Uprising creates a platform for Indigenous women to gather to share their work and perspectives among one another as well as with the broader community,” says curator Olivia C. Davies in her artist’s statement.

Curated by Davies, the festival is a platform for artists and audiences to come together and celebrate connections from across different nations and Indigenous worldviews through dance works. The festival brings together Indigenous women who are both nurturing and advancing the art of contemporary dance.

This year’s festival was produced by O.Dela Arts in partnership with The Dance Centre, Dance West Network, Training Society of Vancouver, Dumb Instrument Dance / Morrow.

Matriarchs Uprising creates a platform for Indigenous women to gather to share their work | Photo courtesy of the Dance Centre

Looking forward – a positive future

“We gather together to witness these sharings and be enveloped in the experience of all of our heartbeats co-mingling with the rhythm of the earth. Gratitude to all the teams who have helped bring this vision to life and my deepest honoring to the many, many mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers seven generations beyond whose dreams we are living now,” says Davies’ artist’s statement.

This year’s theme is Indigenous Futurism – Stories of Transformation. Works shared in this year’s festival are offered as a way to invite audience-witnesses to consider the aspects of their future selves that can be cultivated today.

By looking to the past for the various ways their ancestors were able to navigate the challenges they faced and retain their cultural practices against all odds, they feel they have a solid base from which they can come together and create the future to carry them forward in a positive way.

The artist behind the festival

Davies is a dance artist, choreographer, community-arts facilitator and emerging curator of Anishinaabe, French-Canadian, Finnish and Welsh heritage. Davies, who trained at York University, also creates and collaborates across multiple platforms including choreography, creative writing, film, improvisation and sound design.

She gained professional experience as an improviser in Toronto’s live music and cabaret scene. She also pursued commissions to choreograph for gala presentations, fashion shows, festival stages, burlesque revues and music videos.

As artist-in-residence at The Dance Centre for the 2018–2019 season, she curated CoexisDance Western Edition 1 (December 20, 2018) and the inaugural Matriarchs Uprising festival (June 19–23, 2019).

Her body of work explores the emotional and political relationships between people and places, often by investigating the body’s dynamic ability to transmit narrative, seeking to traverse boundaries and challenge social prejudice by conveying concepts and impressions that open different ways to experience the world.

Davies’ work crosses boundaries, challenging social prejudices and weaving concepts and narratives with performance works by a community of practice workshops that point to different ways of viewing and experiencing the world.

Davies’ community-engagement practice includes facilitation of Home: Our Way dance and story weaving workshops, Healthy Aging Through The Arts and collective creation labs.

Her work has been presented in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec since 2011. She is the artistic director of O.Dela Arts, the Matriarchs Uprising Festival and is a founding member of the Crow’s Nest Collective (Vancouver), MataDanze Collective (Toronto) and Circadia Indigena Arts Collective (Ottawa).

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