DanceWorks presented Mînowin, a breathtaking multi-media production from the Dancers of Damelahamid. This celebrated Indigenous dance company from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia has crafted a visually striking performance that blends customary Indigenous dance forms with modern media. The overall effect is stunning.
The production is rooted in Indigenous cultural history. Margaret Grenier’s elegant and grounded choreography, the intricate regalia designed by Rebecca Baker-Grenier—these are integrated with Sammy Chien’s interactive new media elements to give the performance an immersive visual life.
Andrew Grenier’s set and visual design are deceptively simple. Five textured panels, a large stylized pillar and a circle on the stage floor. These elements move and transform throughout. They catch Andy Moro’s lighting and projections, surrounding the dancers with eerie and immersive landscapes. Glowing embers dancing in the sky, wild horses on fields, vast and swirling cosmos—these provide a rich and vibrant backdrop.
I’m particularly thrilled by well-integrated and purposeful visual surprises and Mînowin features many. From the colourful glow in the textured surfaces of masks and props to the way light shifts abruptly in response to sound and movement—the technical achievement here is impressive for the illusion it creates of natural phenomena.
While much of the performance features pre-recorded audio, some of the most compelling segments for me where those with live singing and drumming. Though I’m not familiar enough with the legends referenced to experience the full weight and resonance of the performance, certain ideas were clear and persuasive—cyclical patterns of creation and re-creation, the ongoing experience of time and space as it relates to many the creatures of this world, both flora and fauna.
Mînowin—featuring performers Margaret Grenier, Rebecca Baker-Grenier, Cameron Fraser-Monroe, Nigel Baker- Grenier, Kristy Janvier, Jeanette Kotowich and Raven Grenier—goes on to Universal Hall (Scotland) in October and The Cultch Historic Theatre (Vancouver) in November.