APTN National News
Santee Smith is a Mohawk from Ontario who spent six years at the National Ballet School of Canada.
She left the classical ballet world behind to explore other forms of dance.
Smith said she incorporated her own community’s dance with traditional dance to create pow wow boot camps.
“The emphasis is on that it’s sort of indigenize your exercise,” she said during a class in the Yukon.
The classes allow Santee to tell traditional and contemporary stories of her Indigenous culture.
“It’s sort of opening up your awareness in your body to have that connection to earth. And that rebound and that cycle of always dropping into the earth and having that earth energy come up through your body,” she said.
“For Onkwehon:we people in all of our events we are always singing and dancing. And that’s a physical embodiment of celebrating a life. Making our connections. Celebrating ceremonial cycles.”
Michael Edwards said the class kicked his butt a bit.
“But it was amazing. I don’t know if I will be able to walk tomorrow but we’ll find out,” said Edwards.
Katherine McCallum said she felt connected to everyone in the class.
“It was a very beautiful connection I think in the room with people who didn’t know each other before,” said McCallum. “Half-way through the class it just sort of felt like it didn’t matter that we didn’t know each other you know. And that was just kind of a human experience.”