Members of Answer, an all-female drumming group, rehearse for this weekend’s production of Pendulum: An Indigenous Showcase, running Feb. 23 and 24 at the Belfry Theatre. Michelle Munki photo

‘Pendulum’ swings Indigenous arts onto the Belfry Theatre stage

From contemporary to traditional, ‘it’s a magic show’ says Indigenous Artist in Residence

Pendulum: a weight suspended from a pivot so that it may swing freely.

For the City of Victoria’s Indigenous Artist in Residence, Lindsay Delaronde, the concept also represents a starting point. On Friday (Feb. 23), the Iroquois Mohawk woman will open Pendulum: An Indigenous Showcase, at the Belfry Theatre – the first of its kind in the city.

“It’s a magic show,” Delaronde says. “Each piece weaves something very special. You cannot think your way through, you have to sit and experience and feel.”

Pendulum brings together 40 local Indigenous people from all territories for a performance that swings from the contemporary to the traditional. It brings new life into the context of theatre and decolonizes the art form, which Indigenous peoples are so often left out of, Delaronde notes.

In January, her Artist in Residence position was extended for a second year, despite some criticisms voiced by city councillors.

“People need to meet us where we’re at, instead of doing this in a western context,” she says, explaining how theatre has long perpetuated colonialism.

RELATED: Merits of performance art debated on review of Victoria’s Indigenous Artist in Residence position

“We need to be visible, especially in the arts – that’s where we carry a lot of our knowledge,” she adds. Delaronde credits the Belfry as an engaged partner interested in recognizing colonial damage and not creating spaces out of guilt.

“This sense of Pendulum is about transformation and unity and decolonizing spaces.”

Dance, spoken word, storytelling, the power of the drum – it will all be there when the show takes centre stage. Ohen:ton Kariwentehkhwa will present an Iroquois giving of thanks followed by Breath in the Land, a local acknowledgement of welcome and holding of space.

ANSWER, an all-female drum group, will perform as well as Rage Flowers, a contemporary duet exploring decolonizing of the body through rage. Ahousat, a Bear Song composed by Guy Louis Jr., will be performed by members of the Nuuchanulth community.

Delaronde considers her role as that of a mediator, preparing artists who have not been performers in the technical western sense, but who “have been singing and dancing since they were babies.”

This is about developing ongoing relationships for Indigenous people in Victoria’s arts community, she explains, noting they are often asked to be part of events, but never before have they been the event.

It really is important in Victoria to push into the mainstream and have shows like these annually, she adds.

“We have a lot of beauty, we have a lot of story that is relatable. It’s about relating to people and breaking stereotypes.”

Pendulum will stage three performances Feb. 23 and 24 at the Belfry Theatre (1291 Gladstone Ave.). Tickets are available through the Belfry box office, by calling 250-385-6815 or visiting Belfry.bc.ca.

Watch Lindsay tell you in her own words about Pendulum: An Indigenous Showcase below:

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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