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Seneca culture highlighted in special dance program at Fredonia
Monday, September 15, 2014

Seneca culture highlighted in special dance program at Fredonia

Rosy Simas performing, “We Wait In The Darkness.”

The culture of the Seneca people and the art of dance will come together in September for a special program at Fredonia.

Rosy Simas, a Minneapolis-based choreographer, will present two performances of, “We Wait In The Darkness,” in Bartlett Theatre at Rockefeller Arts Center as part of a national tour. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 and 20.

Simas’ Seneca heritage informs her work in her explorations of how ancestry, homeland, culture and history are stored in the body and expressed through dance. Her family is from the Cattaraugus Seneca Territory.

“The Seneca people are matrilineal. We get our identity, our clan and our inheritance from our mother, her mother and her mother’s mother,” Simas explained. “‘We Wait In The Darkness’ is an art/dance work to heal the DNA scars of my grandmother, her mother and our ancestors. Within in an environment of images and sounds from Seneca lands, this new dance work engages past and future, DNA memory and invisible presences, to create a personal artwork about loss, family, perseverance and home.”

“We Wait In The Darkness” was created in collaboration with French composer François Richomme.

Tickets for the performances of “We Wait In The Darkness” are available through the Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 and online at fredonia.edu/tickets. Prices are $14 for the general public and $10 for students, children and members of the Seneca Nation.

Simas’ appearance at Fredonia is made possible by a National Dance Project grant secured by Helen Myers, director of Dance at Fredonia. It is the first time the university has secured one of the grants, which are sponsored through the New England Foundation for the Arts with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Support from the Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund was also secured for the event.

In addition to the Sept. 19 and 20 performances, Simas will have a weeklong residency at Fredonia. During the week she will be teaching master classes and staging a new work with members of the Fredonia Dance Ensemble for the ensemble’s annual concert in May.

“It’s pretty exciting for the dance area and hopefully for the entire campus,” Myers said.

Over the past 20 years, Simas has created more than 40 original works that have been presented throughout Minneapolis/St. Paul. Her work has also been presented in Montréal, Vancouver, California, Wisconsin and New York.

She was a 2013 recipient of a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Dance Fellowship and a McNight Next Step Grant and was recently honored with a residency award at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, N.M.

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State University of New York at Fredonia