Dancing Earth’s production “SEEDS: RE GENERATION” is a work that’s been developing for many years. It has emerged from the interactions that the company’s dancers have had with Native American elders, farmers, seed savers and members of food and water justice groups. At its heart is the theme of resilient adaptability.
Wise Fool New Mexico hosts “SEEDS: RE GENERATION” on April 20. After presenting it in Santa Fe, Dancing Earth heads to Washington, D.C. to perform the work at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“The production has been growing for many years,” says dancer Rulan Tangen, who founded Dancing Earth in New Mexico 2004. “There was a summer several years ago when we were dancing outdoors, in the hot sun among rocks and cacti, because we couldn’t afford a rehearsal space. I also didn’t know how I was going to feed my dancers. Farmers in the area stepped up and gave us food. This was so uplifting.”
The work that farmers do is an essential part of “SEEDS: RE GENERATION.” While dancers move on stage, a soundscape projects voices of elders who talk about water, farming, creation stories, renewal and regeneration and issues of sustainability.
Sustainability is a guiding force for Dancing Earth. Tangen carefully considers how she costumes her dancers and creates props. Recycled and organic salvaged materials are often incorporated into productions.
Based in Santa Fe but performing worldwide, Dancing Earth is comprised of Indigenous-identified dancers and collaborators. In the company’s mission statement, Tangen says, “We gather as individual artists to create experimental yet elemental dances that reflect our rich cultural heritage and to explore identity as contemporary Native peoples. We strive to embody the unique essences of Indigenous multi-tribal perspectives by creation and renewal of artistic and cultural movement rituals.”
Last year, Tangen’s work was celebrated by the Kennedy Center, which honored her with a Citizen Artist Award for her work’s embodiment of service, justice, freedom, courage and gratitude.
“Our goal is to engage imaginations and to speak to people through dance,” she says.