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 social-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.
Sept. 9, 2016
The re-story-ing of bodies land, water skies… The performance ritual begins outdoors, in the making of a community mandala, the rolling of your hands in clay to make seed balls balls that will burst into wildflowers this spring with dances of bees and butterflies, with the witnessing of paintings of Water Is Life exhibition by Southwest Native community artists, with video imagery of elders and canyon, with seed exchange and blessing and welcoming by local Native caretakers of the land. It began with the potluck two weeks ago, with with the spontaneous dances at Farmers Market, with elders sharing stories ten years ago, with an intention, with a dream, with ancient seeds of life planted before your birth. From the vital creativity outdoors, we collectively move into the sacred space of theater, infused by sound, movement, image, scent, and multi sensory intuition and imagination.
An elder acknowledges creation forces of four elements, then descends into ceremonial world to greet four sacred mountains, and then moves 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 Balance
- Sacred Mountains, We Bury Our Cords Here
- “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds…”
- Deer society
- Talking Circle, we become our stories
- Seed ancestor
- Running for Water, Running for Land
- There are those who have forgotten..
- Protecting the Sacred
- Prayer for water
- Healing the sacred hoop, of earth and of sky
DANCING EARTH and collaborators
Founding Artistic Director/Choreographer Rulan Tangen (this production’s choreography created with dancers )
Cultural Contributing Elder and Guest Artist James Uqualla
Company Artists Deollo Johnson, Anne Pesata, Lupita Salazar, Trey Pickett, Justin Giehm, Natalie Aceves, with Talavai Lakai Denipah-Cook (Apprentice), Andrea Rose Bear King (Aerialist)
Community Water Dancers Thaddine Swift Eagle, Ginabriela Perky, Jack Turner, Jennifer Turner, Tess Lynston, Kim Siemers, Mika Inouye & two daughters
DJ Kino Benally
Dramaturg Deirdre Morris
Video Designer / Visual Art Collaborator / Video Installation in Lobby Marion Wasserman
Costume/Prop Designers Randolph Duke, , Cheryl Odom, Connie Wind Walker, Joe Moncada
Costume Manager Kate Sweetser
Outdoor Contemporary Regalia for Water Women and Seed Exchange / Community Art Collaborator Venaya Yazzie
Technical Director/Stage Manager Robbie Pino
Tour Manager / Production Assistant / Photographer Paulo T.
Assist to Artistic Director, Los Angeles Marlon Footracer
Community Liaisons Teri Nuhn, Ellinda McKinney, Gabriela Perky, Wendolyn Omana, Cody Reinheimer, Jack Turner
Lighting Design LeAnn Brubaker
Community Concert Hall Technical Director LeAnn Brubaker
Community Concert Hall Director Charles Leslie
Community Concert Hall Ticket Manager Nancy Ottman
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
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
Oudoor Creative Engagement : Seed EXchange with Lee-Ann Hill and Rachel of Rocky Mountain Seed Exchange; Community Manadala, ‘Water Is Life Exhibition’ and Water/Seed/Star Artwear by Venaya Yazzie, seed ball making with Marion Wasserman, Spoken word poetry with Gretchen Groenke.
COSTUMES & PROPS
Durango Costume Manager: Kate Sweetser
Outdoor Contemporary Regalia for Water Women of Seed Exchange: Venaya Yazzie
Tattoo-tards: Handpainted by Randolph Duke, (Anne Pesata’s painted by Anne Pesata)
Mountains and umbilical loops: Randolph Duke
Ocean 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 Odom
Living Earth skirt/prop: Connie Windwalker
Desert ancestors clothing and Seed Ancestor dress: Cheryl Odom with organic and re-purposed fabrics
Salvaged clothing collected by: Rulan Tangen and Kate Sweetser
Oil Slicked Bird Headdress: Izzy from Fort Lewis Concert Hall
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 Sweetser, 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 with people of Standing Rock – NO DAPL water is life (Mni Wiconi).
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)
I’ve been a principal dancer with Dancing Earth since 2007. I love hot showers, warm hugs, cool people, and cold smoothies–all of which Durango has. Thank you, Durango and FLC for being so good to us! – Deollo (Image credit: Dana Greenblatt)
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 cares about her people and wants to see them strong and healthy. She is a mom to one boy, and dances to inspire people.
Lupita Salazar (Company)
Lupita is a farmer and performing artist from the mountains of northern New Mexico. She has returned to her family’s farm, and is working as a Agricultural Programs Director with the Northern Youth Project, as well as teaching theater with Moving Arts Española, and as a performer with Dancing Earth. At present she is working to find balance between working the land and telling the stories that need to be heard.
Trey Pickett (Company)
Trey Pickett is a performance artist based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Trey has been with Dancing Earth since the Summer of 2012. Trey loves to share his gifts/talents to promote positive change and transformation.
Justin Giehm (Company)
Justin Giehm is a Diné dancer, actor, and 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.
Natalie Aceves (Company)
Natalia’s creative practices and leadership roles are based out of Northern California. Serving local and oversea communities with journeys of awakenings and transformation through educational programs, mind/body/soul wellness, bodywork, performance and dance to inspirit and generate personal/planetary solidarity and soulful change.
Talavai Lakai Denipah-Cook (Apprentice)
I am a descendant from the Hopi/Dine/Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo people. I graduated from Fort Lewis College with a Bachelors in Environmental and Organismic Biology with a Geographical Information Systems certificate. I feel that my duty in life is to be connected with the land that my ancestors once walked on.
Andrea Rose Bear King (Aerialist)
Andrea Thompson has been an aerial artist for Dancing Earth for the past three years. She has been performing since the age of five in various types of dance styles. She is Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Standing Rock Sioux, and Crow Creek Sioux and is currently residing in Albuquerque, NM.
Kino Benally (DJ)
Kino Benally is Diné Producer, DJ, and Composer from Shiprock, NM. He is always looking for new sounds and collaborations to create sonic art.
Randolph Duke (Costume Designer)
…..dubbed ‘Designer To The Stars’, illustrious career spans over 3 decades….creating indelible images with Iconic designer clothing, Creative Directing and Resurrecting the infamous Halston Brand and dressing the most famous women in the world including Angelina Jolie, Hilary Swank, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Charlize Theron, Britney Spears, Barbra Streisand, Beyoncé, and countless others…… His name is synonymous with timeless style and glamour….. and his fashions have graced the most prestigious publications, television shows and movie screens having costumed several fashion-centric films such as ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’! His design aesthetic has led him more recently in to the worlds of interior and architectural design having been featured on the cover of Architectural Digest and winning the AIA ‘Architectural Institute of America’s’ prestigious Best Residential Design Award in 2008 for his now infamous ‘Openhouse’ in the Hollywood Hills. Duke created an Eco Resort in Costa Rica dubbed Casa Eclipso, and now turns his efforts to opening RANDOLPH Santa Fe in New Mexico late Fall this year! He is an award winning author having released ‘THE LOOK, A Guide To Dressing From The Inside Out’ in 2006….dedicated to women everywhere. WWD (Womens Wear Daily) dubbed him one of the top 100 luxury brands in the world in 2001, I claiming 2 spots with HALSTON at #14 and his eponymous label RANDOLPH DUKE at #58! www.randolphduke.net
Cheryl Odom (Costume Designer)
(BFA Acting, MFA Costume Design) has designed costumes, and occasionally sets, for the College of Santa Fe (Faculty Costume Designer for 29 years), the Mark Taper Forum, various Equity-waiver theaters in Los Angeles, UCLA, California State University at Northridge, Sacramento Music Circus, PCPA Theaterfest, Shakespeare in Santa Fe, New Mexico Repertory, Santa Fe Playhouse, the Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Repertory, Music Theater Southwest, Dancing Earth, Theatre Grottesco, and Teatro Paraguas to name a few. She also designed “Cole Porter, the Musical” and “The 39 Steps” at The Santa Fe Playhouse.
Kate Sweetser (Durango – Costume Manager)
A recent transplant to Durango from the east coast, Kate has worked in costuming and props for the past ten years on over 15 stage productions and is now supporting Dancing Earth with their 2016 Fort Lewis residency.
Marion Wasserman (Video Designer / Visual Art Collaborator)
Educated in Philosophy and Eastern Religion, Wasserman explores themes of Prana, consciousness, transformation, and archetypes in her video work. Influenced by her years as a painter, she layers images and timelines into visual stories. Incorporating video into a sculptural installation has led Wasserman to create stories contained in a new context or new realm. She recently received an MFA from the Transart Institute, Plymouth University, 2015. www.marionclairewasserman.com
Venaya Yazzie (Community Art Collaborator – Diné/Hopi)
Venaya was raised in are of the San Juan Valley in NM, she was born into the Manyhogans clan. She is an alumnus IAIA, Fort Lewis College and UNM where she earned an M.A. She has previously worked with the Bisti Writing Project and is a member of the Navajo Heritage Museum Board.
Deirdre Morris (MFA Dramaturge)
Deirdre’s practice as an international performing artist, dramaturge and choreographer, spans forms that focus on dance/theatre and site specific installations, interested in the embodied experience as the resource and subject matter. Her work has been inspired by her study of Butoh dance in Japan with Kazuo Ohno and Mexico, with Diego Pinon. www.Theforgotttenbody.com
Robbie Pino (Technical Director/Stage Manager)
Robbie Pino is of Mexican, Nez Perce, and Colonial mixed heritage, and raised New Mexican. Influenced by his family’s love of story telling, he turned it into a career working in the mediums of theatre, film, and fine arts. He graduated first of his family in 2015 with a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from UNM. He has been working with Dancing Earth since it’s birth.
Paulo T. (Tour Manager / Production Asst. / Photographer)
Paulo T. is an award winning, internationally published photographer based out of Santa Fe, NM. He’s been working with DANCING EARTH since 2010 wearing many different hats. www.pauloT.com
Marlon Footracer (Assistant to Artistic Director : in LA)
Marlon Footracer is Diné, Water-Flows-Together, born for One-Who-Walks-Around-You clan. He attended Stanford University where he majored in Creative Writing with an emphasis in poetry. He has worked as a consultant and project manager for indigenous art projects, artists, and various indigenous-focused nonprofits, and currently is the Administrative Assistant for Dancing Earth.
Javier Stell-Fresquez (Admin. Asst.)
Javier received a fellowship grant from Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts to intern with Dancing Earth and facilitate their first dance intensive this summer. At Stanford, Javier majors in Earth Systems: Anthrosphere, and his experience with Dancing Earth will contribute to his minor in Chicano Studies (focus: Decolonizing Art Practice). Javier began dancing Mexican folklórico at age five and is now a professional flamenco performer and instructor. Other genres he practices regularly include Vogue, blues, Latin social, ballet and many combinations of the above.
WITH LOVE & GRATITUDE
We are blessed for a continued relationship with Durango, Fort Lewis College and Concert Hall since 2011, with community calling us to return last year after the Animas River mining spill, to which we initially dedicated this performance, with additional intention as a functional ritual of transformation for other sources of sacred water and lands, including dancing our prayers in solidarity with friends, relatives and allies at Standing Rock in support of No Dakota Access Pipeline.
For more info and to take action please view this link and consider signing this petition at
We appreciate the support from Mr Alden Naranjo and Tony Skrelunas for welcoming us to Ute and Dineh territories; Grand Canyon Trust Stephen Picha, Bryce Turner and all staff of Ghost Ranch Education Center; and Cara Romero Indigenous Knowledge Program Director for Bioneers. We are grateful for studio support from Pomegranate Dance, Dragon Rising, Railyard Performance Center, Institute of American Indian Arts, Academy for the Love of Learning. We also are grateful for donated seeds from Poki of Gaia Gardens, Nara Shedd, Native Seed Search, Seeds of the Southwest, Northern Youth Project, Cameron Weber, Michael Crofoot 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; Rafael J. Gonzales; Gerardo Omar Marin; Marrie Mumford; William Kingfisher; 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 www.indigenouswomenrising.org for full text of treaty and www.350.org 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; McMichaels Gallery of Canada; Planet IndigenUs in Toronto; RIDDU RIDDU Festival of Norway; Global Water Dances; Arts and Social Change award from Arts and Healing Network, 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 and Dayna Martinez).
Most importantly, we recognize creative collaboration of extraordinary cultural artists in current cast as well as Jerry Longboat, Shane Montoya and all DE 2014-16 International Indigenous Cultural Artist Ambassadors.
Dancing Earth is grateful to realize this production with 2016 support from National Dance Project, and A Blade Of Grass Fellowship – which affirms art as the most powerful force in social change, and affirmed the innovative cultural leadership of Dancing Earth’s director/choreographer for this immense honor.
Truly, the presentation of “…SEEDS: RE GENERATION… ” was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Being selected for National Dance Project production and touring support has changed the course of this endeavor, making widespread transformation possible, and we are so grateful !
We acknowledge our work has been made possible with additional support since 2015 from Catalyst Initiative, Arts for Social Change Award from Arts and Healing Network, McCune Charitable Foundation of New Mexico, US Embassy to Norway, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, USArtists International, and all our kind donors and supporters! We deeply appreciate additional volunteer, administrative and/or financial support from Lee Ann and Marshall Hunt, Randolph Duke, Kate Sweetser, Gabriela Perky, Maria Firmino Castillo, Liz Cameron, Michele LaRoe, Almah Rice, Jennifer Kilbourne, Solar Banner, Alma Rosa, Mitra Lujan, Intersection for the Arts, New Mexico Dance Coalition, Indigenous Arts Institute, Seth Fried, Rima Miller, Daniel Banks, Guthrie Miller, Amy Westphal and Michael Lujan, Pearl Potts, Alicia Piller, Angie Rizzo, Ezra and Sonia Leyba and Catalyst Water, Roshi Joan Halifax of Upaya Zen Center, Heryka Miranda, Javier Stell-Fresquez, Tamela Uzzetta, and our wonderful new agent and ally Andre Bouchard at Walrus Arts Management.