Native Intelligence / Innate Intelligence is a dance performance incorporating modern dance, hula, Hawaiian chant, and live music to examine home and belonging. Research for the work began with questions around what it means to be native in a time where this word is politically charged, and yet everyone is native to somewhere. The piece explores ideas of nature versus nurture: how does what we inherit genetically influence who we become, and how much is shaped by our environment? Within all of these influences, where does instinct come from? Using the metaphor of lei making for the strands of our DNA, the work weaves together stories from varied identities to build bridges that celebrate difference and respect individuality. Community activities centered around traditional Hawaiian lei making and sharing identity stories, take place at every tour site.
With live music by electric cellist Wytold and Hawaiian chanter/percussionist Patrick Makuakane, scenic design by Cherokee visual artist Brenda Mallory, projection design by Kelly Colburn, lighting by Peter Leibold, and costuming by Marques Hanalei Marzan, the work is a comprehensive picture of the multiplicity of identities we all navigate, and invites audiences to reflect on their perception of Native people, their own identities, and instinct.
Commissioned by the Maui Arts and Cultural Center and Dance Place in Washington, DC Native Intelligence / Innate Intelligence has received development support from the National Choreography Center at the University of Akron and the Emerging Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, New York. The work is also eligible for TWO tour subsidies; New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project and the Advancing Indigenous Performance tour fund.
The work was originally scheduled to premiere in May 2020, new premiere dates pending.
Virtual performances and virtual community engagement content is in development and will be ready in Spring 2021.