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Trent University Presents A Story Before Time Featuring Contributions from Aboriginal Celebrities


Traditional Iroquoian Family Tale to be Performed for School Groups and the Community from December 12-15

Monday, December 10, 2007, Peterborough

Developed by some of Canada’s best known Aboriginal artists and celebrities, A Story Before Time will be presented on stage at Nozhem: First Peoples Performance Space at Trent University from Wednesday, December 12 to Saturday, December 15.

Led by acclaimed choreographer Santee Smith, A Story Before Time is a family production of the Iroquoian creation story, and features vocal narration by Gemini Award-winning actress Tantoo Cardinal and text written by renowned playwright Drew Hayden Taylor. Described as visually stunning, musically rich and theatrically compelling, this spectacular production is both entertaining and insightful for families and children.

The journey begins in the glorious Sky World where the cosmos are brought to life through music and dance. It is when SkyWoman falls through the roots of the Celestial Tree to the Water World below that life on Turtle’s back takes shape. With animals by her side, SkyWoman sings and dances her world into existence. Muskrat, otters, geese, chipmunk, raccoon and deer closely follow the actions of the battling twin brothers. Composer Donald Quan creates an exquisite musical score blending traditional Iroquoian social songs and contemporary music. The use of Aboriginal languages is a significant addition to the project. Incorporating both the Mohawk and Cayuga languages, the lyrics created for scenes are meaningful to the narrative and can be useful in teaching. The narrator will be speaking English.

Tantoo Cardinal, whose voice narrates the production, has had roles in dozens of films including Dances with Wolves, Legends of the Fall, Black Robe, and The Education of Little Tree, and has been honoured with an Outstanding Achievement Award by Toronto Women in Film and Television for her appearance on “North of 60”.

A member of the Mohawk Nation, from Six Nations, Ontario, Santee Smith is the artistic director of Kaha:wi (pronounced Ga-Ha-Wee) Dance Theatre. She attended the National Ballet School, and holds a masters degree in dance from York University. Her choreographic works, Kaha:wi and Here On Earth have toured nationally and internationally. Smith is a recent recipient of Canada Council for the Arts Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award. This year, her A Story Before Time was chosen as a highlight performance for the Council’s 50th anniversary celebration.

A Story Before Time is presented in partnership with Indigenous Performance Initiatives (IPI), a Peterborough-based collective that encourages Indigenous artists to tell their own stories through dance, music, theatre and video, merging cultural history with current concerns in order to present dreams and images for the future. IPI operates Nozhem: First Peoples Performance Space at Trent University as a “living laboratory” to investigate performance traditions from Indigenous nations and renew appreciation of Aboriginal performing arts. Under the direction of Professor Marrie Mumford, Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Arts and Literature at Trent, IPI ensures that skills from experienced Aboriginal performers are being transferred to future generations, thus enhancing the cultural and social life of Canada.

See the Play
School performances of A Story Before Time will be held for youth from First Nations territories and local schools in the Peterborough area at 12:15 p.m. on December 12, 13, 14. Tickets are $5. School performances will be followed by a question and answer period. This show is suitable for all ages.

Public performances are scheduled for December 14 at 7:30 p.m. and December 15 at 2 p.m. Please reserve your seats by calling (705) 748-1011, ext. 7921.

Nozhem: First Peoples Performance Space is located in Peter Gzowski College on the east bank of Trent University at 2510 Pioneer Road, Peterborough.


For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence, communications officer, at (705) 748-1011, ext. 6185, or
Hilary Wear, Indigenous Performance Initiatives, at (705) 748-1011, ext. 7906