Scottsdale Center For The Performing Arts Launches New Indigenous Theater Work DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE
“DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style”, a new theatrical work, created by Derrick Suwaima Davis that tells a story of seasons and cycles and the value of respecting the natural order of the universe, will debut on May 7 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
“We all have ancestors, and ancestors around the world use the sun, moon and stars to migrate and build, while appreciating and encouraging the natural order of the universe,” said Suwaima, who is Hopi. and Choctaw. “‘DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style’ celebrates not only human life, but also our relationship with the life of the universe. I hope audiences will be inspired to take on the important responsibility of stewardship and restore and renewing Mother Earth. Live to dance, and dance to live.”
Although Suwaima created the show and serves as its artistic director, drawing on experience from his previous Native Trails productions, he is quick to note how other performers from various tribal backgrounds have contributed to the creation of the show, including including musical composition and dance. Joining Suwaima for the program are performers from several Arizona-based tribes, including Hopi, O’odham, Diné and Apache dancers and musicians.
The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts appreciates the opportunity to showcase “DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE” and the artists who are part of the production.
“We recognize that our performing arts center is on unceded and unabandoned Indigenous lands,” said Abbey Messmer, the center’s programming director. “For many years we have been honored to present many performances by Suwaima and his Native Trails productions, which have empowered Native artists from various tribes – including several tribes based here in Maricopa County and throughout the Arizona – to share their traditional moves and ‘DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style’ continues that legacy with exciting new work that Suwaima has developed in response to winning a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
Suwaima said that audiences generally enjoy the song and dance that are part of his Native Trails productions, but there is another important aspect to these shows and this new work: the story. Because these productions are steeped in the traditions of various southwestern tribes, there’s an important educational aspect that Suwaima says people tend to appreciate.
He also said the performances allow him and other Indigenous artists to address stereotypes of Indigenous culture and people through lighthearted humor.
“DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style” combines individual music and dance-driven numbers to tell a story of the universe, this planet, and the living creatures that inhabit it, including human beings. Some of the performances are inspired by the traditions of specific Southwestern tribes, from the Tohono O’odham to the Apaches, while others refer to common powwow performances, most often linked to the traditions of the Great Britain cultures. Plains.
Suwaima began participating in powwows at the age of 3, and when the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened, he was honored to be named chief dancer at the its inaugural powwow. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Living Traditions Dance Troupe and an eight-time World Hoop Dance Champion. Suwaima has traveled the world as a cultural ambassador, sharing her dance and culture through collaborations with the Heard Museum, American Indian Dance Theatre, Billy Ray Cyrus and Willie Nelson.
“DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style” will debut May 7 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, Arizona. Tickets are $8 to $18. Visit ScottsdalePerformingArts.org/events or call Scottsdale Arts Guest Services at 480-499-TKTS (8587) for more information.