Dance & Land Acknowledgement
We believe dance to be a spiritual experience.
It is an opportunity for everyone stepping onto the dance floor to connect to something greater than themselves.
We dance to music created a hundred years ago that expressed a time and place in human history.
We enact the movements of a dance form that was fiercely expressed by a people, at a specific time and place in human history.
This dance form was ahead of its time. It paved the way for equal say between partners, for self-determination, for reclaiming body and soul, for defiant joy.
Jazz emerged within the black experience of the middle passage. It reflects the experience of exile, annihilation, resilience, hope, and the coming together of individuals, sharing in good and bad time, perfecting a craft, elevating it.
Jazz is eloquent, sophisticated, profound, emotional, multifaceted. A form that is free and disciplined, building on what came before and adding anew. A living cultural testimony of human creativity and genius against all odds.
As time has passed, leading toward some changes and victories for social justice. But struggles and violence still remain, taking on new forms.
“My humanity is bound up in yours.” – Desmond Tutu.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde
We dance so we can connect.
Therefore we must know and actively stand up.
It is natural then that we must open our eyes to what we benefit from and not take for granted what seems given.
The land that we dance on also has a history and a present. It is more than ever the center of ongoing struggles. First Nations, Inuit and Metis people are going through some of the most devastating consequences of human imperialism, thirst to conquer, to control and possess. Beyond truth and reconciliation, there is a fight for one thing:
Let’s sit for a moment with that thought and reality, and how much it would impact our daily lives. The path forward demands a price to our comfort. And that goes with all forms of participation toward social justice for all.
We begin with the invitation to a ritual.
In a land acknowledgement, we acknowledge the physical territories, the names of the lands as they were and are called by their first inhabitants. We acknowledge the name of the people and what those land allowed them to do. Before Jacques Cartier, the Christopher Columbus of Canada, Montreal was known as Tiohtiake (Joh-jah-Gé). It was a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee (more specifically the Kanyen’kehà:ka) and Anishinabeg nations. It is since not only a land, but also cultures, languages, social structures that have been ripped away.
We must not remain indifferent. One by one,we learn the names, we make space within ourselves to create a relationship. We honour who came before us on this land, and we seek ways to reconcile our heritage and our common existence.
It is our commitment.