Dance documentary captures work of Santee Smith

Haudenosaune choreographer Santee Smith wrapped up production on a documentary film of her work “Kaha:wi – The Life Cyle” this month in Toronto.

“Kaha:wi was my first attempt at a major choreographic work. My grandmother passed away, and my daughter was born in 1998.” says Smith. “It was really a key moment in my life. This was the inspiration for the work – how we honor the natural cycle of life and death.”

Working on the choreography, music and imagery for Kaha:wi was the first time she began exploring her own choreographic style, blending her professional training with indigenous dances. Smith’s company, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, now boasts over a dozen productions to date.

“We’ve actually been talking about the filming for three years.” says Santee. “We went into the studio and recorded four key scenes that tell the story of Kaha:wi.”

The documentary is a collaborative adaptation of the stage version of Kaha:wi. Smith and Belcourt have also come together with David Hannan, a Metis artist who developed the sets, and James Klopko for lighting. Jeremy Edwards is the producer.

Those who are fans of the energy that live theatre brings may be surprised how it transfers over to film. Metis director Shane Belcourt shares, “I respond to the content Santee has created. I still get goosebumps. It is so beautiful and profound.”

The film just might show up at film festivals in the coming season. Belcourt previously found notoriety with his 2007 film Tkaronto, for which he won Best Director in 2008 at the Dreamspeakers Festival. “I love being at film festivals to have the immediate reaction with the audience during the question and answer period. I am excited about that possibility.”

The film will incorporate both Mohawk and English in its final production and is set to air on APTN in January 2014.

Update: The documentary is a collaborative adaptation of the stage version of Kaha:wi. Smith and Belcourt have also come together with David Hannan, a Metis artist who developed the sets, and James Klopko, director of photography. They are also supported by the production skills of Jeremy Edwardes, Jim Compton, Todd Ivey, Cynthia Lickers-Sage and Agi Gutkowska.

Official Production Still All Rights Reserved WFCL Kaha:wi for the film Kaha:wi Cycle of Life Credits : Shane Belcourt/James Klopko/Santee Smith/David Hannan Permission contact: jedwardes@coptor.com & agutkowska@coptor.com

Like this article? Follow our Facebook page

About The Author

Nahnda Garlow, Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations, is our Arts & Culture editor. Her popular column, Scone Dogs and Seed Beads brings weekly thoughts on current day indigenous identity. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado.

Related posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

captcha

Please enter the CAPTCHA text