Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s production The Mush Hole wins 5 awards

June 30, 2020

 Six Nations -The Kaha:wi Dance Theatre ‘s  The Mush Hole production has received five 5 awards at the 41st annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards Monday June 29, 2020 in a Virtual Edition.  Six Nations OWN Santee Smith is the Artistic Producer of the “Mush Hole.”

The Mush Hole received the following awards in the Theatre For Young Audiences category:

Outstanding Director – Santee Smith

Outstanding New Play – Santee Smith

Outstanding Production – Kaha:wi Dance Theatre / Young People’s Theatre

Outstanding Performance Ensemble – Raelyn Metcalfe, Julianne Blackbird, Montana Summers, Jonathan Fisher, Santee Smith

Outstanding Projection Design: Ryan Webber, Shane Powless

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards, produced by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), celebrate excellence in Toronto’s performing arts sector for theatre, dance and opera. This year Kaha:wi Dance Theatre is celebrating its 15th Anniversary and the 5 Dora wins are now a huge part of the celebration.

The  “Mush Hole” was presented by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre  and their presentation partner, Young People’s Theatre. The partnership allowed for over 4,000 teachers and students in the Toronto area  to see the production.

The Young People’s Theatre itself received a total of 7 Dora awards. “The Dora Award honours heaped upon The Mush Hole are richly deserved. They demonstrate the emotional impact of this extraordinary work of theatre and dance. Santee Smith and her collaborators bore with grace and courage the difficult role of embodying the trauma and the resilience of victims harmed by the Mohawk Technical School. The Mush Hole offers glimmers of hope despite the overwhelming shame associated with the history of Canada’s Residential Schools. We are very proud to have opened YPT’s 54th season with this brave act of speaking truth,” said  Allen MacInnis, Artistic Director, Young People’s Theatre.

The Mohawk Institute is located on Six Nations lands adjacent to the city of Brantford and  is the oldest residential school in Canada. It served as  the model  for all other residential schools.  The school ran 1828 to 1970, as an industrial boarding school for First Nations children from Six Nations, as well as other communities throughout Ontario and Quebec. For 142 years, the modus operandi of the school was to forcefully assimilate children into Euro-Christian society and sever the continuity of culture from parent to child. Canada’s first Prime Minister John A. MacDonald and Superintendent Duncan Campbell Scott were the main perpetrators of the residential school system. Students experienced a range of abuses from sexual assault, food deprivation, and corporeal punishment at the hands of faculty and staff.

The Mush Hole created and produced by Six Nation Kahnyen’kehàka Nation multidisciplinary artist Santee Smith connects to her family history. Smith’s great grandmother and grandfather attended the Mohawk Institute but no family information was passed on due to silencing through intergenerational trauma. Smith said, “The Mush Hole reflects the realities of the Mohawk Institute Residential School experience and offers a way to open dialogue and to heal, through acknowledgement and honouring the spirit of Survivors and families that were impacted. The Mush Hole moves through the devastation of Residential School with grace and hope for transformation and release. Opening a small window into the atrocities inflicted on thousands of Indigenous children, it attempts to close the door on historical amnesia. A haunting portrayal weaves through memories of Survivors, reliving traumas, school life, loss of culture, remembrance, returning to find each other and the lifting of shame. Residential School and the continuing institutionalized extermination of Indigenous lives and culture is an issue that affects all Canadians.”

Nia:wen / Thank you to the Survivors of the Mohawk Institute Residential School for sharing their truth and resilience with us. Nia:wen / Thank you to the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council for supporting Kaha:wi Dance Theatre.  

The Mush Hole fall and spring 2020/2021 touring is postponed due to COVID-19. Kaha:wi Dance Theatre is working to develop online materials for The Mush Hole in partnership with the Woodland Cultural Centre / Mohawk Institute. As a charitable organization we are seeking public support to foster the development of crucial online education tools. Donations can be made online at Canada Helps.

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