Map of Toronto from the 1800s. Pretty old but not 1535. That’s the year taken from the title of the piece I was creating in 2007, “Untitled # 1535.” The year 1535 was the year Jacques Cartier made his 2nd voyage to what he named “Canada.” At first I wanted to use the year 1492, when the conquest actually began but this was a little more sly. The actual name of the piece was Untitled (Grass Dance) # 1535 (in this exact location), which referred to the fact that our dances have always been outside, so being invited to an outdoor festival is hardly new to us! I thought I would remind everyone of this with our title. My guess is that the 1534 previous dances were pretty awesome as well!
DIARY: MICHAEL GREYEYES
This week’s diarist is actor and dancer Michael Greyeyes. He kept his diary last week while rehearsing for Dusk Dances, a dance festival taking place in Toronto’s Withrow Park until Sunday.
BY NATIONAL POST JULY 11, 2007
My daughter’s swimming lessons in the morning are in outdoor pools. The water feels good. Dancing at 40 ain’t all sunglasses and autographs.
Long walk to the mailbox. I’m waiting on news of a grant we desperately need to make a new dance work. It’s called Triptych, which explores the fallout from the residential school system and Christianity. I opened the letter… “We regret to inform you…”
That was a blow. This means everyone who’s committed to working on the project with me is really going to be working for peanuts. !(&%#^! Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Get in that car. Keep hustling. York University. Arrange studio rental for Triptych. Must get to fabric stores to buy material for my regalia for Dusk Dances—the dance I’m creating uses Men’s Grass style as the principal movement vocabulary, and we’ll be dressed in our traditional regalia and grass outfits. Powwow dancers are always working on their outfits. Sewing, patching, updating.
The dancers are like MacGuyver.
The sheer ingenuity of the way people construct and maintain their outfits blows my mind. A buddy of mine, who is a champion grass dancer, was showing me the part of his regalia that keeps the feathers of his headpiece in alignment and allows them to rock when he dances—hence the name “rockers.” His rockers are covered in peyote stitch beadwork, but the item underneath is a simple pill bottle, the kind you get with your prescriptions. Wow. He said, “Yeah, those work the best.”
We open in five days. My ankle is a mess. The site where we perform is radically uneven. Who the hell picked this spot? Oh, yeah. That was me. 11 p.m. Foot in bucket of ice-water for 15 minutes.
Try it sometime.
Tomorrow, a day at the casting agency, and dealing with foot injuries.