30 Jun 2021

Aeriosa Dance Society

Dancing Through The Seasons
Artistic Director's Message

We are approaching the end of National Indigenous History Month, and Canada Day is almost here.

Over the years, I have been generously lifted up by many Indigenous artists, mentors and friends. I have been received, gifted and treated as family, and I am so grateful.

We had planned to send out Aeriosa’s Summer Solstice newsletter on National Indigenous Peoples Day to pay tribute to the Indigenous dancers, musicians, artists and knowledge keepers that Aeriosa works with and learns from. 

While it is important to recognize and mark National Indigenous People’s Day it did not feel right for me to be celebrating this year. And I do not feel like celebrating Canada Day either.

When we were working with Deaf Theatre Artist Landon Krentz at the Playhouse earlier this month, we learned an American Sign Language gesture holding your first hand cupped on your heart and scooping your second arm in a circle towards yourself to place your fingers into the cupped hand.

There is no direct ASL translation into English for this sign, but the action describes a way of absorbing knowledge and taking it in.

I think listening, learning, and acting in support of Indigenous people is the best way I can acknowledge Canada Day.

Take care and stay caring,

Julia Taffe

Aeriosa Creation Workshop at Vancouver Playhouse
Click to watch a sneak peak of our work at the Vancouver Playhouse in June 2021

Aeriosa is beyond excited to be back to creation and in-person rehearsals. Innovative Canadian Deaf Theatre Artist, Landon Krentz, was invited to join Aeriosa for a new creative workshop at the Vancouver Playhouse developing a brand new aerial show. The collaboration required ASL/ENG interpreters, and Aeriosa was grateful to receive support from the Inside Out Theatre Good Host Program to assist with facilitating communication between artists.

Aeriosa dancers Julia Carr, Aly Fretz, Cara Siu, Meghan Goodman, and Gina Alpen joined Landon Krentz on the Playhouse stage working with Choreographer Julia Taffe, Safety Director Colin Zacharias and Site Coordinator Peter Jotkus. Aeriosa's crew continues to follow BC Provincial Health Orders and WorkSafe BC guidelines during rehearsals. The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre remains closed to the public for now, but is open to artists and staff. Thank you to Vancouver Civic Theatre Staff and Crew for supporting this productive and inspiring residency!

Please Note: The otherworldly song we are working with in the video clip was generously offered to this project by the awe-inspiring Oakland-based singer, songwriter, vocal activist Melanie DeMore.

Looking Back 
Vertical Dance Forum June 2018 Blank Canvas Lab
hosted by Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre in Ireland
Photos provided courtesy of Colin Zacharias, Julia Taffe & the VDF.

Fidget Feet Artistic Director Chantal McCormick designed the Blank Canvas Lab as an opportunity for the seven Vertical Dance Forum choreographers to learn more about each other’s practice. They were mentored by director, teacher and performer Charlie Morrissey who was tasked with probing their various approaches to collaboration.  

Twelve professional vertical dancers joined the VDF choreographers from across Europe and participated in a jam-packed week of creative research at three iconic locations: St John’s Castle and the Strand Hotel in the City of Limerick, as well as the stunning sea cliffs of The Burren in County Clare.

Photo Note: Those tiny figures in orange on the cliff at the edge of the sea are Aeriosa's own Safety Director and Artistic Director, getting back to their rock-climbing roots in County Clare, where Julia Taffe's Irish grandmother was born!
Inspiration In The Arts 
Butterflies in Spirit: Dance, Healing, & MMIWG

Butterflies in Spirit: Dance, Healing, & MMIWG builds on the years of community healing work Lorelei Williams has done with her dance group, Butterflies in Spirit. Founded in 2012, Butterflies in Spirit is a dance group consisting of family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). With a mission to raise awareness of violence against Indigenous women and girls, Butterflies in Spirit has performed at numerous gatherings and events throughout Canada, the US, and has traveled as far as Bogota, Colombia to perform at an International Women’s World Peace event. On stage, members of the group wear shirts depicting images of their missing and murdered loved ones.

Aeriosa and Butterflies have been collaborating over the last few years and have some exciting projects coming up on the horizon. Stay tuned...


To view Butterflies' social media pages and get in touch, please click below

Special Connections
Lorelei Williams
What is your connection to Aeriosa?

Since I started the Butterflies in Spirit: Dance, Healing, & MMIWG (murdered Indigenous women and girls), I have always had a vision of dancing in the air to represent the spirits of our loved ones that we've lost. I didn't know how it would be done and tried to learn various aerial arts but was concerned about the safety aspect. When I saw Aeriosa dancing on the Library, I thought this could a way to bring the vision to life but didn't know who to contact or how to make that happen. Randomly, Julia approached me to get involved with the Stanley Park Thunderbird project, and when I told her about my vision, she said we would be able to make that happen. We have some great projects we are working towards in the future.

What are your working on right now

Primarily, we are continuing to perform our regular show that we have been performing for the last 4/5 years. We are working on quite a few other projects including new choreography for a new song that speaks about MMWG across Canada and in South and Central America. Also, gearing up to work with Aeriosa again and securing a new studio space.

What is inspiring you right now?

It has been hard to learn about the bodies of the 215 Indigenous children recently found in unmarked graves on the grounds of the old Kamloops Indian Residential School. Its so sad, and it has taken a toll on me. I feel hopeless because there are still so many lives that haven't been accounted for. So I'm inspired and driven to fight harder and continue with my work bringing awareness for this extremely important topic.  Also, I feel grateful to be here and am inspired by the elders who have been survivors, who have demonstrate their strength.

What started you on this journey?

I was on my way to getting a degree in tourism as I've always wanted to help people. While at a Memorial, I was asked by members of my community why I was not at the Wally Oppal investigation of the serial killer Robert “Willie” Pickton. My cousin was one of the victims in that case.  My Aunt and I went to the inquiry and I was compelled to go everyday after that. While in the courtroom, I could see no one was grasping that our Indigenous women are being murdered and going missing at a higher rate than everyone else, and I needed to do something about it. I decided to start a dance group thinking this might be a way to get peoples attention. We did our first performance at that inquiry and have been going ever since.

When you think about 'flying', what do you imagine or envision?

I imagine being able to represent the spirits of all the murdered Indigenous women and girls and give them a chance to be seen and acknowledged. Flying is to be free from these earthly burdens.