26 Sept 2022

Aeriosa Dance Society


Dancing Through The Seasons
Artistic Director's Message

At this autumnal equinox, I am reflecting on two significant Aeriosa productions: Dancing to Remember and Habitats & Camouflage.

Dancing to Remember — Honouring the 10th Anniversary of Butterflies in Spirit, was an accomplishment, with over 75 artists and a return for Aeriosa to the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre. Habitats and Camouflage, headlined the long-awaited launch of the Tofino Tree Festival featuring our collaborative nature-based site work with visual artist Sarah Fuller and music artist Keri Latimer. 

With those major events behind us, and the smell of fall in the air, Aeriosa begins a new creative cycle with an international focus. Over the next four years we will be collaborating with choreographers Marija Scekic (Histeria Nova) and David Greeves (Yskynna). The development process begins next month with meetings in Croatia. We are excited to return to this beautiful country and work once again with Marija and David. Marija hosted us for the Vertical Dance Forum New Territories Workshop in Zadar, Croatia this same week of September in 2018. 

The beginning of autumn also calls for our attention to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (also called Orange Shirt Day) on September 30th. Orange Shirt Day honours the M├ętis, Inuit and First Nations children who never returned home, and residential school survivors, their families and communities. This week I had the chance to learn more about what the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation represents for Butterflies in Spirit founding member Carrie Phillip, in our Special Connections column. Auntie Carrie generously shares her thoughts about what Orange Shirt Day means to her and her community, and how song and dance has been an essential part of her healing journey.

Julia Taffe

Current News
October/November Site Visits & Meetings in Croatia
 Artistic Director Julia Taffe & Safety Director Colin Zacharias
Image from their last trip to Croatia in 2018 for the VDF
Aeriosa Artistic Director Julia Taffe and Safety Director Colin Zacharias will be returning to historic Zadar on Croatia's western shores. They also plan to visit regions in Eastern Croatia to explore new locations and plan with new municipalities and stakeholders. This collaboration with Histeria Nova sees Aeriosa returning to Croatia in 2023 and 2024 to research rigging design and interdisciplinary vertical dance choreography in preparation for the Biennale of New Movement, and welcoming Histeria Nova to the Vancouver International Vertical Dance Summit in 2025 and 2026.

Histeria Nova considers Aeriosa a vital partner in developing vertical dance in Croatia. The company's Biennale of New Movement is envisioned as a large suite of site specific projects and interdisciplinary collaborations, with training opportunities for vertical dance in different communities across Croatia. Stay tuned as we introduce you to key players and new developments as they unfold in future e-Newsletters.

Looking Back
September 2018 Vertical Dance Forum 
New Territories Workshop in Zadar, Croatia
VDF New Territories Workshop in Zadar, Croatia hosted by Histeria Nova

The Vertical Dance Forum (VDF) held a series of professional development workshops and meetings in Europe and Canada from 2017-2019, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. The seven international partners were: Histeria Nova (Marija Scekic, Croatia), Cie Retouramont (Fabrice Guillot, France), Gravity & Levity (Lindsey Butcher, England), Aeriosa (Julia Taffe/Colin Zacharias, Canada), Il Posto Danza Verticale (Wanda Moretti, Italy), Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre (Chantal McCormick, Ireland) and VDKL (Kate Lawrence, Wales)
Inspiration In The Arts 
Carrie Phillip (Shxwenatqwa)
Photo Credit: Chris Randle from "Dancing to Remember" 2022 

Carrie Phillip (Shxwenatqwa) is a member of the Sts’ailes Nation. Carrie’s original role with Butterflies in Spirit was to provide mentorship to the group and the members have called her Auntie right from the start. However, the dancing called her in; dancing, drumming, and music shifts energy and moved the sacred cellular memory through her body to a moment of healing. At that point she became a true sister to the dancers and shared the strong bond they all have. Carrie honours the beloved Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls and prays that their spirits rest in a good way and the families have peace.
Special Connections
Auntie Carrie Phillip

Photo Credit: Chris Randle from "Dancing to Remember" 2022 
Top left featuring Auntie Carrie & Ana Fernanda Cornejo Luna - Top right featuring Lorelei Williams

Tell us something about yourself and about your relationship to Aeriosa?

I am survivor of residential school and the Sixties-Scoop. My whole sibling group, and the majority of my family went to residential school. When I went to residential school I was led to understand it was to protect me from abuses at home but nothing was ever done to help my mom to heal or understand what was going on. 

I am connected to Aeriosa through my connection with Butterflies in Spirit MMIWG2S. I was part of the first performance raising awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Lorelei Williams, is the founder of our dance group and her dad was a really good friend of our family, so Lorelei grew up with my kids.

I believe in culture as a way of life, it is something that has kept me aware, alive and connected to family and community. Through my healing process I have been able to connect to Butterflies in Spirit. Song and dance is part of life. It is our connection to something greater than ourselves and our spirit. Aeriosa’s connection to the air and dancing amongst the trees — it really touched me to see that. Last April, for the Butterflies in Spirit 10th Anniversary (Dancing to Remember) the performance when the spirits of the children were pulled into air away from their parents was very moving, it touched my soul.

What does the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day represent to you? 

My friend Phyllis Webstad started Orange Shirt Day, which is now the Truth and Reconciliation Day and her story is really important. Before Phyllis went to residential school her family took her shopping for new clothes. It may seem like a small thing, but when she arrived at school, her new clothes were taken away from her. She had chosen that orange shirt to represent herself, it was her connection to her family. To have it taken away was a really big deal. What happened to her heart, mind and spirit because of that simple thing was really hard. Now Phyllis’s Orange Shirt Day has really grown and is acknowledged through the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, raising awareness of what happened to our children. 

When they found those 215 bodies at the Kamloops Residential School, my cousin told me, he told his mom about that, and his mom said "oh my god, I went to that school, I could have died.", so those stories are very personal to me. And now the numbers of graves are over 1000 in Canada. We aren’t just talking about a t-shirt, we are talking about people, our relatives, and that story needs to be talked about and understood. It goes way back. Looking at what happens as a result of that, all the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (and Boys and Men). It deserves to be understood and that will only happen when it is known.

Do you do anything special for Orange Shirt Day?

I have my orange shirt and my hoodie with my logos. The logos are important because they represent us. There is a gathering here in Williams Lake with our own people to support each other. We need to be healthy to get through these experiences. With the Butterflies I talk about doing our own work and being kind to ourselves. Sharing our truths is painful so we have to be healthy to able to do that in a good way.

What do you recommend non-Indigenous people do on Truth and Reconciliation Day?

Acknowledge it and don’t be judgmental. There is a lot of criticism and hurtful comments, saying that we should just get over it. I teach about that in my work. We talk about intergenerational trauma and we teach about those historical events which happened to our relatives. A lot of families don’t talk about it because of the pain and the shame and suffering, which has lead to dysfunctional behaviour. There has to be a greater sense of respect from society for people, to have the conversations and acceptance of people’s stories and experiences. When you look at Indigenous people’s issues with homelessness and addiction there are reasons for that. People are escaping something.

Thank you Auntie Carrie for sharing a little bit of your story and for educating us. I really appreciate the chance to spend this time with you and everything you have shared today.