Its hard to believe that Planet IndigenUS is over, several years of planning and it was done in a matter of days. The wealth of talent from all across Turtle Island and beyond was amazing. It’s near impossible to highlight every event we did this year, but there are a few key moments that were extraordinarily special to me, so here they are in no particular order:
This year at Woodland we were especially ambitious by putting on four exhibitions, all three galleries are currently home to some of the best visual artists from Six Nations. We also have the several pieces in our newly revised sculptural garden including Kelly Greene’s Haudenosaunee Solar Longhouse. One of my favourite moments from the festival is catching Kelly in her “good clothes” weeding out her sculpture right before the exhibition opening.It was a rare and wonderful treat to hear the live performances of musicians from across the globe; I particularly enjoyed the heart pounding sounds of Hanggai (China), the gorgeous tonkori playing of Oki (Japan), and the sweet melodies of Benny Walker (Australia). I must also acknowledge the lovely Susan Aglukark who managed to get us out of our seats to round dance to one of her fan favourites “Hina Na Ho”.
I can honestly say I’ve never heard laughter booming out of the Orientation Room as loud as it did when Don Burnstick and Charlie Hill performed. I recall looking at the walls at one point to see if they were shaking, everything seemed structurally sound, including our new roof!
Falen Johnson’s play ‘Salt Baby’ holds a special place in my heart; it was amazing the reaction her play received from the local community, a full house enjoyed a night of theatre, fantastic production and performances all around.
One of my favourite semi-annual events at Woodland is the Corn Soup Cook Off, I can safely bet I was not the only one who ate too much that day. Speaking of food… for the first time ever Woodland presented a culinary demo with Janace Henry, hosted by the hilarious and audience favourite Cecil Sault. Janace made her famous “scone with beans”, I’m embarrassed to admit I ate about five… ok six.
I also was able to find small moments to enjoy some of this year’s dance workshops, the first with Charles Koroneho from New Zealand who taught me some movements from the Maori war dance, for days the staff that participated were swinging sticks down the hall. The other dance workshop I was able to attend was with world champion hoop dancer Lisa Odjig, she presented to a captive audience under the trees the basic of hoop, its was lovely to see people of all ages give it a try.
Janis and I couldn’t have survived this festival without all the help from the Woodland staff and our summer students. A special acknowledgement has to be made to Ms. Carley Gallant for all her hard work, positive energy and talents (not to mention her ever resourceful father Ray Gallant). Pictured here is Carley during an impromptu boomerang throwing lesson by Richard Moore of Goombine.
When in full swing this festival is fuelled by adrenaline, the days and nights are long, and the tasks numerous, but we have come through with what I feel was a major success for Woodland. A huge Nia:weh to all the artists, volunteers, and staff involved.
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