Singing River (2015)


Rekindling our relationship with the Wonscotonach River, Singing River highlighted the richly layered history of the Don Valley through dance, music, street art, storytelling and installation.

To mark its significance to indigenous communities — as a place of abundant fish, hunting and fields of maize — we referred to the river by its Anishinaabemowin name Wonscotonach, meaning “bright, burning point”. Artistic Director Juliet Palmer worked in partnership with Aanmitaagzi’s Penny Couchie and Sid Bobb (based in Nippissing First Nation) and outreach organizations to spark the community’s curiosity and renew passion for the river. We were honoured by singer/songwriter Marie Gaudet’s gift of a song for the river, sung by students at Toronto’s First Nations School and woven into an audio installation at The Narrows. Renowned Montréal street artist Roadsworth collaborated with Native Earth writers and the Element Choir — ride your bicycle and sing as you follow the curves and words along the trail near Pottery Road! Our final performance was a walk beside the river featuring dance and music inspired by the Wonscotonach River’s return to life. Crows scavenged for garbage by the DVP, drums and voices resonated alongside rivers of traffic, birds swooped under bridges, salmon swam upstream led by a hopeful giant sturgeon, and water from the city’s nine rivers was gathered and offered. The last image of the evening was of a dancer, moving birdlike in the river to the music of traffic as the sun sank and headlights flickered across the water.

LEAD ARTISTS
Juliet Palmer— composer & artistic director
Julia Aplin— choreographer
Penny Couchie — choreographer, co-artistic director Aanmitaagzi
Sid Bobb — co-artistic director Aanmitaagzi
Sean Frey — co-designer
Sonja Rainey — co-designer

ASSOCIATE ARTISTS
Nova Bhattacharya
— choreographer
Anna Chatterton
— writer
Jason Doell
— composer/performer
Sharada Eswar
— storyteller/singer
Cathy Elliott
— storyteller/writer/performer
Jessica Lea Fleming
— writer/performer
Marie Gaudet
— singer/songwriter
Germaine Liu
— composer/performer
Jeremy Proulx
— writer/performer
Roadsworth
— artist
Cheyenne Scott
— writer/performer
Diana Tso
— storyteller/actor
Chris Willes
— sound artist

PERFORMERS
Christine Duncan – vocal soloist & conductor
The Element Choir — improvising choir
GREX — vocal ensemble
Blake Howard — percussion
Jani Lauzon
— singer/actor, “Salmon Woman”
TorQ Percussion– percussion quartet
Jordana Deveau— dancer
Subhiksha Rangarajan
— singer
Georgia Simms — dancer
Aki Takahashi
— singer
Maryem Tollar
singer
Aanmitaagzi: Dancers — Penny Couchie, Cristina Lella, Animikiikwe Couchie, Megan Paulin, Julia Hune-Brown (Toronto) Crows — Sid Bobb, Cecile Hookimaw, Ouske Couchie-Bob Young Woman — Valeraya Hookimaw Puppeteers — Brad Trudeau, Skyler Hookimaw, Karis Jones-Pard Pow Wow Dancer — McKenzie Ottereyes-Eagle Singer — Darren Nakogee

PRODUCTION TEAM
Laura Cournoyea — Production Manager
Farnoosh Talebpour — Production Assistant

Thanks to our volunteers: Stephen Robins, Bronwyn Clement, Miriam Palmer, Leidys Ramírez, Taiana Coppola, Ashley Bugno, Laura Byrne, Aidan Nolan, Kai Masaoka & Alex Naylor

Thanks to our funders: The Toronto Arts Council, The Ontario Arts Council and Friends of Pan Am Path.

Singing River was a Pan Am Path Art Relay event produced by Urbanvessel in collaboration with Aanmitaagzi, Native Earth Performing Arts, Regent Park Focus, Todmorden Mills and Evergreen. Community partners: First Nations School, Swansea School of Dance, The Children’s Garden, Regent Park School of Music, and Interval House.

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