“Coming out of being so in demand as a companion artist, supporting the visions of other artists, and being attached to other Indigenous nations, this piece honors my own voice, my story, and my determination to create a process,” she tells Stir emotionally. “It feels really good. I feel really ready. I think if I had created the work two years ago, as it was planned, it would have been really different.
“I feel like the work was waiting for me to mature in this place and be able to make the true expression of it.”
Creating her own method of earthly practice along the way, Kotowich returned to the Saskatchewan Valley several times during her long process of research, even living there at one point in a trailer. She was walking around, taking notes, picking and increasing her awareness of air and sound. “The horizon is very different from here,” she said to herself. “It’s more than half the sky when you’re there.” The foundations of Cree cosmology give all this a deeper meaning: the heavens open to the stars and Mother Earth appears.
Her new dance work incorporates a large silver tarpaulin that changes shape to capture the expansive ideas of the Kotowich piece. “He has so much ability to create shapes and can’t really be controlled,” she says.
Kathleen Nisbet creates the soundtrack live, on fiddle and vocals (performing before the show each night at 7:30 p.m.).
Kotowich reveals that Kisiskaciwan will build towards a place of joy and liberation – and a nod to the beloved Métis jig she grew up with.
The dancer artist, more than in any other piece she has performed, strives to make herself vulnerable in the work.
“I’m an emotional person and it actually serves my practice, so instead of trying to suppress it…I just live in it,” she explains. “My work is a place to contain what I feel.”
It is through this profoundly human vulnerability that Kotowich hopes to connect with its audience – a fact all the more significant as the long-awaited work premieres on the Day of Truth and Reconciliation. “I think if somebody wants to do something on that day, it’s a way for them to engage in Indigenous content that’s not super-political,” she says.
“There is an invitation for the witnessing audience members to remember their own humanity, to remember their own relationship to the land, and to remember their own relationship to home,” she adds. . “We are all nomads. It is also to bear witness to the joy, vulnerability and generosity of someone on stage through a story.