… at Mesa Art Center’s Piper Repertory Theater presents…


with special introduction of traditional O’odham songs by the Collins family!
Sat, Sept. 30th – 7:30pm


ABOUT THE COMPANY DANCING EARTH (DE) is an unique force in the world, gathering inter-tribal collaborators to re-envision contemporary dance, embodying indigenous ecological philosophies with renewed relevance that is evidenced by with extensive national and international touring invitations.Recognition includes medals from the US Embassy for cultural ambassadorship, the National Museum of American Indian’s Expressive Arts Award and one of ”25 To Watch” by Dance Magazine. DE evokes critical review such as that found in Santa Fe’s THE magazine: “the visionary note easily persists in the accomplished miracles of speed, agility, grace, and sensuality that articulate … Rulan Tangen’s extraordinary choreography.”

Director Tangen has been awarded the first Fellowship for Artistic Innovation by Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, as well as the Costo Medal for Education, Research and Community Service. Her founding vision for DE is to serve a need not met in the USA, giving hope and opportunity to Native talent who are outside of mainstream performance because of lack of access and resources. As Native dancers, composers, costumers, filmmakers, and spoken word artists, we challenge notions of what comprises a professional artist, the role of the audience, the boundaries and purpose of performance. Our tribal values honor dance and song as essential ritual for transformation, which we expand to socio-environmental change. We are one of few companies who work with Native communities in gymnasiums and open spaces for people who may have never seen theatrical dance, as well as in festivals in Opera houses for audiences who have never met a Native person. We also serve our circles with extensive local and national dance instruction, engagement workshops, and community-made art. Along with performance rituals which tour to Universities, festivals, theaters and unconventional indoor and outdoor sites, we are committed to our communities, with workshops and training programs that reach remote rural Native reservations and invisibilized urban Natives, as well as a broad span of non-Native participants who are not usually engaged with dance, including farmers, environmental activists, students of sustainability, ecology, anthropology and diversity studies.

Our current programs explore themes of water, seeds, roots and plants, with site specific performance rituals that are redesigned for season and location, and related mobile cultural exchange and creative process workshops, as well as a summer intensive training institute in indigenous contemporary dance.

We dance the rich diversity of our contemporary heritage with intent to promote ecological awareness, cultural diversity, healing and understanding between peoples. Our aesthetic embodies the spirituality inherent in earth, and is created by, with, and for the land and the peoples of the land.



MESA ARTS CENTER Production Development Residency Performance


The re-story-ing of bodies land, water and skies … The performance ritual began with the first seed planted by the first human. From the vital creativity of human connection to life force of growing with land, water, sun and moon, we collectively move into the sacred space of theater, infused by sound, movement, image, scent, and multi sensory intuition and imagination, and begin with cultural welcome by relatives of the Akimel O’odham, to whose lands we respectfully bring our new dances.

An elder acknowledges creation forces of four elements, then descends into ceremonial world to greet four sacred mountains, then moving into earthwalk into the circle of daily life, as the ancient new beings emerge from the hearts of mountains. They reflect movement of life force of rock, then seeds interconnecting with soil, then four-legged, remembering relationship with all these relatives. Our umbilical cords are buried with these sacred mountains. They tried to bury us but they didn’t know we were seeds. The deer spirit who gives to the people, and the people become that deer. Star sisters bring light to the surrounding realms. Then, in the form of two leggeds, we interpret through movement language the stories shared across generations.

The ancient feminine spirit plants seeds of culture for all future life forms, and passes it along to the original hunter, forager and planter peoples, whose ways of life are continued into the present.

The modern era is reflected by the looming presence of greed, who brings destruction, poison, desperation and oppression to the land, people, and water – with greed herself become toxic like an oil slicked bird. The people stand together to protect land and water, until they fall exhausted to the ground with their blood, sweat and tears, offering prayers. The water returns, the community makes their offerings for water, while the healing of sacred hoops of sky and earth are revealed by the star sisters. The earth, sun, moon and water returns to life with corn, beans, squash and sunflowers.

One woman returns to the land, to restore this vision for balance of life, one seed at a time. The circle of life is renewed, and the round dance spirals through the theater and beyond, to reverberate this dream-vision into reality for generations to come…




* Honoring the O’odham People Whose Lands We Dance on Tonight
* Honoring the Balance
* Honoring our Rock Relatives : Sacred Mountains, We Bury Our Cords Here
* Honoring our Underground Relatives of Soil and Seeds : “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds…”
* Honoring our Fourlegged relatives : Deer Society
* Honoring our Stories : Talking Circle, We Become Our Stories
* Honoring our Ancestors : Seed ancestor
* Honoring our Hunting, Foraging, Planting Knowledge : Running for Water, Running for Land
* Honoring our Waters : There are Those Who Have Forgotten.. Protecting the Sacred Prayer for Water
* Honoring our Healing : Healing the Sacred Hoop, of Earth and of Sky
* Honoring our Vision for the Future Renewal Regeneration



Cultural Welcome : Collins family of Akimel O’odham
Dancing Earth Artists : Rulan Tangen, Anne Pesata, Lupita Salazar, Ciera Budge, Esme Olivia Vandraager, Justin Giehm, Deollo Johnson (and aerial soloist), with guest artist James Uqualla and understudy Kenneth Ramos
Director : Rulan Tangen
Choreographer : Rulan Tangen with Dancers
Stage Manager : Robbie Pino



Created with Music:
Sound editing by DJ Ginger Dunnill, DJ Kino Benally and Natalie Benally
Voices of culture carriers:
Courtesy Grand Canyon Trust as recorded by Marion Wasserman and Lupita Salazar: Drake Havatone, Longhair Havatone, Ophelia Watahomigie-Corliss, Randle Charles, James Uqualla, Bucky Preston, Aaron Preston, Molly Pesata, Anne Pesata, Leatrice Lewis, Teahonna James, Natalie Benally
Additional voices:
Casey Horinek Camp and Pennie Opal Plant speaking the text of Indigenous Womens Treaty Defending Mother Earth (for which they served as co-authors), Fidel Tohil Brito Bernal, Maria Firmino-Castillo, Leny Strobel, Maura Garcia, Leanne Simpson, Xiub Tzun / Juana Brito Bernal – Ixil Maya words.
Sampling songs sounds and compositions of:
Culture carriers voices with sound compositions by Kini Benally, Tanya Tagaq Gillis Ilunikav mixed with Louis Vega’s Elements with voice of Ursula Ruckers Journey’s prelude; Orchestral Powwow Project’s Improvisations on the Sunset and New Women Song featuring Cris Derksen cello and Jennifer Kreisberg vocals; Frank Waln’s Oil for Blood; Tasheena Sarazin vocals courtesy of Aanmitaagzi and Waawiyekidewin; Soni Moreno in Izdzan Binadzoli; Calvin Standing Bear ‘Four Directions’ mixed with Indigenous Angel and Kino Benally’s Dancando o Noche Enteiro; “Deer River” by Pura Fe and Womens Voices for Attawapiskat. Samples mixed live may include from Philip Glass & Yo-Yo Ma – Old World; The Harmonious G8 by Banco de Gaia; Vibrating Trunks duet by Desirae Harp and Sylvie Heiman; AudioPharmacy’s Bambadam (Featuring M1); DJ Offerings Teao Sense’s track Freedom and Born Free, from album Moment; Primeaux & Mike’s Dancing Feather; Zarina Kopyrina Shamanas live Paris concert album; Orchestral Powwow Project; Dine water drum; Cannupa Hanska Luger – Clay work and seed sounds.
Live songs sung by Lupita Salazar:
Tierra mi Cuerpo, and Gulahallat Eatnamlin ( “We Speak Earth” ) by our Saami sister Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska.
Costumes and Props:
Durango Costume Manager: Kate Sweetster Outdoor Contemporary Regalia for Water Women of Seed Exchange by Venaya Yazzie Tattoo-tards: handpainted by Randolph Duke, (Anne Pesata’s painted by Anne Pesata) Mountains and umbilical loops: Randolph DukeOcean of Trash skirt: Randolph Duke embellishing and re-purposing original skirt created by Joe Moncada Silk River: Shibori dyeing on recycled silk by Tina Santiago and Cheryl OdomLiving Earth skirt/prop: Connie Windwalker Desert ancestors clothing and Seed Ancestor dress: Cheryl Odom with organic and re-purposed fabricsSalvaged clothing collected by Rulan Tangen and Kate Sweetster.
Video Projections, onstage and installation in lobby:
Marion Claire Wasserman
Opening Photo Images:
Anthony Ch-Wl- Tas Collins, of “The Hole in the Rock” in ‘Vavdag’, and of ‘Sveg Do’ag’ – Red Mountain
Outdoor Creative Engagement:
Seed EXchange with Lee-Ann Hill and Rachel of Rocky Mountain Seed Exchange; Community Mandala, ‘Water Is Life Exhibition’ and Water/Seed/Star Artwear by Venaya Yazzie, seed ball making with Marion Wasserman, Spoken word poetry with Gretchen Groenke
Community Liaisons:
Teri Nuhn, Ellinda McKinney, with additional support from Gabriela Perky, Wendolyn Omana, Cody Reinheimer and Jack Turner
We give thanks for the special local support from our amazing hosts Charles Leslie and LeAnn Brubaker at Ft. Lewis Concert Hall, Shelley Tisdale at Center for Southwest Studies, Thaddine Swift Eagle, Kate Sweetster, our friends at Mesa Verde National Park, Cody at Durango Farmers Market, Jack Turner and Dance Church, Rachel and Lee Ann of Rocky Mountain Seed Company, Lisa and Charles Smiley Building, Powerhouse Science Center.


Rulan Tangen (Artistic Director / Founder) Lives to dance and dances to live … on behalf of all forms of life. With love and gratitude, waawiyekidewin – we stand together in solidarity.




James Uqualla (Elder Guest Artist) A HAVASUPAI MASTER CEREMONIALIST, teaching Native American Spirituality; thru voice, rhythms, and movement. Motivating seekers to a new EarthWalk of well being. “The universal blue winds allows me to dance”




Deollo Johnson (Company) Dancer, martial artist, aerialist, musician, teacher…Deollo Johnson has been practicing the movement arts for most of his life. He also does diversity awareness training, leadership development, and teaches qigong.. He has been a principal dancer with Dancing Earth since 2007.



Anne Pesata (Company) Anne Pesata is from the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in Northern New Mexico. She works as a Community Health Representative, connecting people to health resources in the community. She has been working with Dancing Earth since 2012.



Lupita Salazar (Company) Lupita is a farmer and performing artist from the mountains of northern New Mexico. She has returned to the land to help maintain her family’s ranch. As well as being a part of Dancing Earth, she is the Agricultural Programs Director for the Northern Youth Project, where she works to connect youth to their homeland through gardening.



Justin Giehm (Company) Justin Giehm is a Diné dancer, actor, model, and graphic designer currently residing in San Tan Valley Arizona. He is a former student of Fort Lewis College, and has been with Dancing Earth since 2014.




Esme Olivia Vaandrager (Company) Esmé Olivia was born & raised in Albuquerque, NM to a Dutch father & a Mestiza Mexican-American mother. Her blood is a peace treaty she honors through prayers of dance, poetry & song. She received her BA from Hampshire College in multi-disciplinary performance & education.
Ciera Budge (Company) Ciera Budge is of mixed ethnicity and California native of the Mono tribe. She has been dancing since the age of two and a half and is ready to tell stories that will change lives through movement. Ciera joined Dancing Earth in January of this year.
Joe Dean (Technical Director/Stage Manager)
Marion Wasserman (Video Designer / Visual Art Collaborator) is a multi-disciplined artist living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She recently received an MFA from the Transart Institute, Plymouth University, 2015.Influenced by her years as a painter, she layers images and timelines into visual stories. Creating projections for Dancing Earth is an honor and creative dream.



Teahonna James (Assistant to Director)
 Teahonna James is Yanyeidi, Tlingit and Dena’ina, Athabascan of Southeast and Southcentral Alaska. She grew up on the Puyallup reservation in Washington State, spending every summer she could in Alaska.. She graduated from Fort Lewis College with two degrees in Humanities and Native American and Indigenous Studies and a minor in Spanish. She is a traditional Tlingit chilkat and ravenstail weaver and was greatly honored to be an apprentice to the late Master Weaver, Clarissa Rizal. She is particularly passionate about working with elders and youth while being an advocate for our land, water and perpetuation of our indigenous cultures.



Thank you to the New England Foundation For The Arts, & their support of Dancing Earth’s SEEDS REGENERATION in creation, touring and this Production Development Residency at Mesa Arts through the National Dance Project Production, Touring and PDR awards. NEFA’s mission is to build connections among artists, arts organizations, & funders, powering the arts to energize communities in New England, the nation, & the world. The National Dance Project supports the creation and touring of new dance works & connects artists, cultural organizations & audiences across the nation.

We are blessed for a continued relationship with the Akimel O’odham, as one of Dancing Earth’s original founding dancers is of this First Nation, onto whose land we now respectfully bring our dances. We appreciate the support from the Collins family for welcoming us to O’odham territory. We dedicate this performance, as a functional ritual for eco-cultural sustainability, joining friends, relatives and allies across the globe, in dancing and singing to honor the sacredness of water, seeds, plants, foods, mountains, sun and moon.

We acknowledge that this project was developed with support from Tony Skrelunas at Grand Canyon Trust Stephen Picha, Bryce Turner and all staff of Ghost Ranch Education Center; Cara Romero Indigenous Knowledge Program Director for Bioneers. We are grateful for studio support from Pomegranate Dance Studio, Dragon Rising, Railyard Performance Center, Institute of American Indian Arts, Academy for the Love of Learning (especially Marissa Roybal, Randle Charles, and Aaron Stern). We also are grateful for donated seeds from Poki of Gaia Gardens, Nara Shedd, Native SeedSearch, Seeds of the Southwest, Northern Youth Project, Cameron Weber, Michael Crofoot, Seed Broadcast Truck, and seed exchange groups for these gifts of life.

This performance ritual represents the shared cultural knowledge of many participants for over seven years including : Lupita Salazar and parents Eluid and Katherine, Drake Havatone, Longhair Havatone, Ophelia Watahomigie-Corliss, Randle Charles, James Uqualla, Bucky Preston, Aaron Preston, Molly Pesata and Anne Pesata and extended family, Leatrice Lewis, Teahonna James, Kevin Belin, Mykel Diaz; Chef Karlos Baca; Roxanne Swentzel and the Pueblo Food Experience and Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute; Alicia Da Silva Rencountre, Rafael J. Gonzales; Gerardo Omar Marin; Marrie Mumford; William Kingfisher; Santa Fe Art Institute Water Rights Artists in residence, and special thanks to Pennie Opal Plant for permissions for incorporation of Indigenous Women of North and South America Treaty Defending Mother Earth (please view for full text of treaty and for further recommended action steps!).

This is a work in progress has been in development over the last few years through commissions of work in progress, for which we express our gratitude to : Bioneers’ Indigenous Knowledge; Fort Lewis Concert Hall, McMichaels Gallery of Canada; Planet IndigenUs in Toronto; RIDDU RIDDU Festival of Norway; Guam Humanities Council; Global Water Dances; Seeds and Soul Festival (thanks Javier and Jo “Love” Cruz); Dennis Elkins at Ft Lewis College Theater Department and cast and crew of SEEDS: Food Earth Dance; Charles Leslie at Ft Lewis Concert Hall; and Ordway Theater MN (thanks Rosy Simas, Janice Bad Moccasin, and Dayna Martinez)! Thank you to the Nike N7 Fund, whose mission is to inspire and enable participation in sport for Native American and Aboriginal populations in North America.

And we recognize creative collaboration of extraordinary cultural artists in current cast as well as Jerry Longboat, Shane Montoya and all DE 2014-17 International Indigenous Cultural Artist Ambassadors.

We acknowledge our SEEDS work has been made possible with additional support from Invoking The Pause’s Maggie Kaplan and Bow of Gratitude Fund, as well as 2015-16 support including, A Blade Of Grass Fellowship, Center for Performance and Civic Practice’s Catalyst Initiative, Arts for Social Change Award from Arts and Healing Network, McCune Charitable Foundation of New Mexico, US Embassies of Canada and Norway, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s USArtists International, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and all our kind donors and supporters! We deeply appreciate additional volunteer, administrative, creative, and/or financial support from our generous circle of individual supporters, local hosts Carmen and Zarco Guerrero, and our wonderful new agent and ally Andre Bouchard at Walrus Arts Management.

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