Native Intelligence / Innate Intelligence is a dance performance incorporating modern dance, hula, Hawaiian chant, and live music to examine home and belonging. The research for the work began with questions around what it means to be native in a time where this word is often politically charged, and yet everyone is native to somewhere. The piece explores ideas around 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 looks to weave together stories from varied identities as a way to build bridges that celebrate difference and respect unique individuality. Community engagement centered around traditional Hawaiian lei making, and sharing stories around identity, are part of the work in 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 creates a comprehensive picture of the multiplicity of identities we all navigate, and invite 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.