Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside Project

April 29 and May 5-8, 2015

Project Director: Jacqueline Shea Murphy, UCR Department of Dance

Assistant Coordinator: Xiomara Forbez

The Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside Project has been bringing Indigenous choreographers to UC Riverside to share work with UCR students and local communities for over a decade. The project promotes Indigenous dance and fosters discussion about the field of Indigenous choreography, Through its residencies, workshops, performances, symposia, and practices for gathering, connecting, and sharing, the ICR Project engages with ways that Indigenous choreographers are using dance as a tool for accessing and asserting vibrant Indigenous knowledge systems.

Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside Project 2015 features the works of two award-winning Native Alaskan choreographers, Tanya Lukin Linklater and Emily Johnson (May 7), and all-day symposium on “indigenous dance Today” (May 8). It begins with DANCING EARTH director Rulan Tangen in residence as a Brithinee Fellow (workshop April 29); and with Opening Activations facilitated by Jack Gray, a Maori contemporary dance artist from Auckland, New Zealand, and including a hip hop theatre/performance ritual by Dakot-ta Alcantara-Camacho, an artist activist of Taotao Haya Chamoru and Ilokano ancestry (May 5).

Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside Project is presented by the UC Riverside Department of Dance, with additional support from the UCR College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Dean’s Office, the Culver Center of the Arts, the Department of Ethnic Studies, the Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs and Native American Education Programs, UCR Native American Student Programs and the City of Riverside.

Thanks to all the ICR participants, and to Josh Gonzales – Director, Native American Student Programs; Tyler Stallings – Artistic Director, Culver Center for the Arts; Arturo Cabrera – UCR ARTSblock Event Manager; Kathy DeAtley, Greg Renne, Katrina Oskie, Reasey Heang and Shellee Kreuter – UCR Performing Arts Administration; Cliff Trafzer – Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs; Jose Reynoso – UCR Dance faculty and garden coordinator; Kelli King – UCR Dance: Michelle Raheja – UCR English; the UCR Dance Department; Micheal Tsosie; and former CHASS Dean Stephen Cullenberg. Special thanks to Xiomara Forbez for support all around.

View the ICR 2015 photo gallery by Jonathan Godoy HERE.


11:00 – 1:00 pm

Indigenous Contemporary Dance Workshop with Rulan Tangen, Director of DANCING EARTH Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations
UCR, Dance Studio, ARTS 100
Free and open to the UCR campus.

3:30-8:30 pm
*come for all or part

ICR Opening
Downtown Riverside, Culver Center of the Arts
Free and open to the public.

A vibrant contemporary Pacific dance/art workshop by Transformance Lab, fresh from Lenapehoking (New York City), merging urban hip hop culture with the desert. Art activities include personalizing a pair of white canvas shoes with Indigenous-inspired motifs before rocking them out in an impromptu stage performance (later that evening).

6:30 pm: “How We Show Up”
A community gathering curated by Jack Gray, sharing performative activations of Southern Californian, Pacific Island, and other Indigenous places.

7:30 pm: Guåhu Guåhan (I Am the Place of Existence), a contemporary Chamorro bi-lingual physical theatre work, written, composed and performed by Dåkot-ta Alcantara-Camacho and directed by Jack Gray, that renews the collective shards of sacred identities in this, trans-Pacific ceremonial activation.

7:15-8:30 pm

Downtown Riverside, Culver Center of the Arts
Free and open to the public.

Opening and Welcome by Kim Marcus, Serrano, and Cahuilla Ceremonial leader

Welcome by Mique’l Dangeli, Tsimshian Nation of Metlakatla, Alaska, co-leader of Git Hayetsk (People of the Copper Shield)

Work by Tanya Lukin Linklater and Emily Johnson, two award-winning Native Alaskan choreographers

With performers Aretha Aoki (Johnson); Cydney Watson, Guadelupe Rodrigues and Crystal Sepulveda, and translation by Jose Reynoso (Lukin Linklater)

8:45-9:30 pm

Post Performance Panel with Mique’l Dangeli, Karyn Recollet, Tria Andrews, Micahel Tsosie, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Emily Johnson, Jacqueline Shea Murphy, Kim Marcus, and the ICR performers.
Downtown Riverside, Culver Center of the Arts
Free and open to the public.

9:00 – 5:00 pm

Symposium: “Indigenous Dance Today”
With scholars Karyn Recollet, Mique’l Dangeli, Tria Andrews, Micahel Tsosie, Maria Regina Firmino-Castillo, Sam Mitchell, Julie Burelle, and Jacqueline Shea Murphy
Hammon Studio, Culver Center of the Arts
Free and open to the public with RSVP: ucricrproject@gmail.com


Tria Andrews is a Ph.D. candidate in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. Tria’s research interests are at the convergence of education, incarceration, and embodied practices. Her dissertation, “Education and Incarceration for Lakota Youth on the Rosebud Reservation, 1886-Present,” investigates the relationships between colonial education paradigms at St. Francis Mission School, a former on-reservation boarding school (1886-1972), and the culturally relevant curricula at Wanbli Wiconi Tipi (Eagle Life Home), the tribally run juvenile hall founded in 2005. The dissertation delineates how US colonial educators and Lakota community members have employed embodied practices for similar purposes – remembering, producing local and national loyalties – but with contradictory goals. In addition to writing her dissertation, Tria is completing a collection of poetry, titled, “Dead Center of the Heart.” This manuscript weaves familial and historical experiences of Native Americans and Filipinos as a result of US colonial policies and their legacies. Tria has danced collaborative and solo pieces that combine her original spoken word and decades of training in the martial arts and yoga. She is also the founder and co-facilitator for the Race and Yoga Working Group through the Center for Race and Gender at UC Berkeley and the co-founder and co-facilitator for Race and Yoga journal.

Aretha Aoki is a performer, choreographer, and teacher currently in rehearsal with Emily Johnson, robbinschilds, and Hilary Clark. Aretha’s dances were shown most recently at A.P.E. Gallery (Massachusetts), Danspace Project, Firehall Arts Centre (Vancouver, BC), Movement Research, and CPR. She has been developing and teaching her class, “The Dancer is a Haunted House”, at various locations in New York City. Aretha holds an MFA from Smith College and is Editorial Associate at Contact Quarterly.

Julie Burelle is assistant professor of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego. Her research examines performances of sovereignty and nationhood by First Nations artists and activists in the particular context of Quebec, Canada. As a dramaturg, Julie has worked with Sam Mitchell, Native Voices at the Autry, The Trip, and other artists in and around San Diego and elsewhere.

Raised on the Anette Island Indian Reserve, Mique’l Dangeli is of the Tsimshian Nation of Metlakatla, Alaska. She belongs to the Lazsgiik (Eagle Clan) and carries the Tsimshian name Sm Loodm ‘Nuusm (cherished more than any other person) and Tlingit name Taakw Shaawat (winter woman). In 2015, Mique’l received her Ph.D. in art history from the Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory at the University of British Columbia. She is a dancer, choreographer, art historian, curator, and author. Since 2003, Mique’l and her husband Nisga’a artist and carver Mike Dangeli have shared the leadership of Git Hayetsk (People of the Copper Shield), and internationally-renowned Northwest Coast First Nations mask-dancing group based in the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, known today as Vancouver, BC. Their dancers are from the Nisga’a, Tsimshian, Gitxsan, Haida, Haisla, Tahltlan, Tlingit, and Musqueam Nations. They have performed throughout Canada, the US, and abroad. Got Hayetsk is dedicated to respectfully continuing their peoples’ ancient tradition of expressing their contemporary existence through the arts by creating new songs and dances to reflect and record their experiences as First Nations people today. Mique’l’s work in dance led to her doctoral research, which focuses on the processes through which Northwest coast First Nationa dance artists assert, negotiate, and enact protocol as a part of their process and how it can be understood as an embodied form of sovereignty that reifies First Nations land rights, epistemologies, and hereditary privileged among diverse audiences and collaborators.

Dakot-ta Alcantara-Camacho was born in Snohomish territory (Everette, Washington) raised in Tscha-kole-chy (Whidbey Island, Wahington_ and Duwamish Territory (Seattle, Washington), their ancestry being Chamoru (Songsong Tomhom Manggaffan Che’ yan Songsong Mongmong Manggaffan Eggeng) and Ilokano (Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines), A graduate fellow at Tisch School of the Arts at New York Univesity, ad First Wave Hip Hop Scholar at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dakot-ta pursues creative formed of community mobilization igniting audiences with passionate connection to Indigenous issues. Co-founder of ARKiology Edutainment in 2012, an international network of Indigenous pacific creatives, Dakot-ta has produced hip hop theatre shows “Buried Beneath: Bombs and Latte,” music videos “Down for the Movement,” released an album “All Life is Sacred” and activated Lukao Fuga, traditional Chamoru ceremony revived after 400 years. 

Maria Regina Firmino-Castillo (Guatemala, Mestiza: Pip/Nahua and Southern European) is a transdisciplinary artist and scholar. With the support of Movimiento de Artistas Mayas Ri Ak’u’s, she worked in Nab’aa (Nebaj), an Ixil Maya town in the northwestern Guatemala on projects that reclaim ancestral Knowledge and history through performance, sculpture, and writing. With the Yoochel Kaaj collective, she worked with Mayan community and Yucatan on the recovery of ancestral sites and memoria historica through collaborative community-based performance. In 2014, she was invited by Dancing Earth to participate in the 10-year anniversary performance as a visual artist and performer. Maria holds an MA in Anthropology (University of New Mexico) and is pursuing a trance disciplinary Ph.D. (California Institute of Integral Studies). Her areas of inquiry include ontological violence in the context of imperialism and the role of art especially indigenous performative practices and decolonization ontological regeneration. 

Jack Gray (Nhati Porou, te Whanau a Kai, Ngapuhi, Te Rarawa) is a New Zealand born Maori choreographer. Jack’s professional credits include: Artist-in-Residence at the Santa Fe Arts Institute, New Mexico (2012), Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Hawaii (2013), Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Riverside, Guest choreographer at University of California, Berkeley (2014) and Visting Scholar at New York University (205). Jack has worked with: indigenous Choreographers laboratories with Marrugeku in Broome, Western Australia and New Zealand, Dandelion Ensemble of California in Hawaii and California, Kawa:wi Dance Theatre Summer Intensive in Toronto, Canada, Cultural Informance laboratory in California, dancing earth in New Mexico, Sherman Indian High school in California, Native American Youth at Cal Day, UC Berkeley, Medicine Ways and Indigenous Choreographers at UC Riverside, California, and Winnenmem Wintu tribe in Northern Californa.

Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is of Yup’ik descent, is originally from Alaska, and is currently based in Minneapolis. She creates work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment – interacting with a place’s architecture, history, and role in community. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, presents, and futures. She receives inspiration from the annual migration of salmon, who swim upstream for thousands of miles because they must. She has watched the salmon swim up waterfalls and she believes humans can also be called to do amazing things. Recently, someone told her that she makes dance for “the dance snobs” and she makes dance for “people who generally don’t like dance.” She would like to think that is true; she would like to think that her dances are for everybody and that maybe they enlighten small aspects of our existence. Emily is a Bessie award-winning choreographer who received a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and her work is currently supported by Creative Capital, Map Fund, a Joyce Award, the McKnight Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts. Emily is a current Fellow at The Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, a 2014 Fellow at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, and a 2015 Artist in Residence at Williams College.

Tanya Lukin Linklater’s practice spans experimental choreography, performance, video, and text. Her work has been performed/exhibited nationally and internationally. She is compelled by the interstices of visual art and poetry, pedagogy (learning), Indigenous languages, portrayals of women and children in film, and the body. Tanya’s works have been exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Santiago  (chile), SBC Gallery (Montreal), Open Space (Victoria), Urban Shaman (Winnipeg), Images Festival + Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), grunt gallery (Vancouver), Nuit Blanche Winnipeg, Museum of Contemporary Native Art (Santa Fe), TRIBE (Saskatoon), Latitude 53 (Edmonton) and elsewhere. Her poetry and essays have appeared in the Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, Drunken Boat, Ice Floe, and fifty3 magazine, and in publications of the Western front Gallery and the McLaren Art Centre. Tanya studied at the Unversity of Alberta (M.Ed.) and Stanford University (A.B. Honors) where she received the Mello Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and the Louis Sudler Prize for Creative and Performing Arts. She was awarded the Chalmers Professional Development Grant in 2010, K.M. Hunter Artist Award in literature in 2013, and has received generous support from the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. She is Alutiiq with family from the Native Villages of Port Lions and Afognak in southern Alaska and makes her home in northern Ontario, Canada.

Sam Mitchel began dancing in the 1990s, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a performer, he has toured the world with Santa Barbara Dance Theatre and The Patricia Rincon Dance Collective. Sam’s choreographic body of work includes “Huerta 12”, “Hedda’ing”, “Dee(a)r Spine” and most recently, “Dunamis Novem” a collaboration with quantum physicist, Dr. Raymon Simmods. Sam recently garnered a University of California Institute for Research in the Arts grant for this project “The Dance Theatre Residency at Rincon” which introduces contemporary dance and theatre practices to Native American students while celebrating the tribes’ own creation myths and traditions. In the fall of 2015, Sam will begin the joint doctoral program in Theatre at UC Irvine/UCSD.

Taisha Paggett’s work includes individual and collaborative investigations for the stage, gallery and public sphere, which question the body, agency, and the phenomenology of race and gender, and has been presented nationally and abroad including The Studio Museum in Harlem, Danspace at St Mark’s Chruch (New York), Defibrillator (Chicago), The Off Center (San Francisco), Public Fiction (Los Angeles), LACE (Los Angeles), BAK Basis Voor Actuele Kunst (Utrecht, The Netherlands), and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Over the years as a dancer and collaborator she’s worked extensively with David Rousseve, Stanley Love Performance Group, Fiona Dolenga-Marcotty, Vic Marks, Cid Pearlman, Chen-Chieh Yu, Baker-Tarpaga Projects, Rebecca Alson-Milkman, Kelly Nipper, Meg Wolfe, Ultra-red, and with Ashley Hunt in their ongoing collaborative project, “On movement, thought and politics.” Her work has most recently been supported by the generosity of programs including the National Performance Network Creation Fund, CHIME, UCIRA, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the MAP Fund (in conjunction with LACE gallery). Paggett is a member of the full-time faculty of UC Riverside’s Department of dance. She holds an MFA from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and is co-instigator of the LA-based dance journal project, itch.

Karyn Recollet is an Assistant Profesor at the University of Toronto in the Women and Gender Studies Institute. Recollet’s work is situated in the intersectional spaces of Indigenous performance, youth and diaspora, hip hop culture, specifically Indigenous hip hop feminism, and Indigenous new media. She is particularly interested in new Indigeneities produces in urban hub spaces as they shape solidarity movements and social activism. Recollet’s forthcoming book, “We survived we crow-walked and we learned to fly”: Hip Hop as contemporary urban Indigenous thought, explores Indigenous hip hop culture’s activism and socio/cultural critique, offering alter Indigeneities and manifesting Indigenous futurity.

Jose Luis Reynoso is Assistant Professor of Critical Dance Studies at UCR. He writes and teaches about dance histories, theories, and practices in various cultural contexts but with an emphasis on the US, Mexico, and other countries in Latin America. His academic and choreographic work investigates ideological and political discourse embodied in dance making, training, and performing as well as in the formation of artistic identifications. He also examines how race, ethnicity, class, and gender mediate the production of notions of post-modernism, “contemporary Art” and other discursive categorizations. His book project explores the role that concert dance and vernacular forms of expressive cultures played in twentieth-century processes of modernization in post-revolutionary Mexico as these art forms converged to produce distinctive embodied “mestizo” modernism. Jose’s academic, choreographic, and performance work has been presented nationally and internationally. He was the Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies at Northwestern University (2021-2014). He completed his Ph.D. in culture and Performance with a specialization in Dance Studies (2021) and an MFA in choreography (2006) at UCLA as well as an MA (2003) and a BA (200) in Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles.  

Guadalupe Rodriguez is a third-year Anthropology and Dance major at the University of California, Riverside. Guadalupe has been dancing for eight years at Renaissance Arts Academy and UC Riverside. Dance experience includes the American College Dance Festival and choreographing for UCR is Dancing.

Crystal Sepulveda is a Latina performance artist of Puerto Rican descent raised in Miami, Florida. She graduated from the University of California, Riverside with Southern California to continue her artistic practice in improvisation, performance, and choreography. Her choreographic work is process-based, informed by collaboration, possibility, and presence in/for performance. Sepulveda’s works have been presented at various venues and institutions including CUNY Graduate center Department of Music (New York City), Highways Performance Space (Santa Monica), Milkbar (Oakland), Barabara and Art Culver Center of the Arts (Riverside). Chez Bushwick Studio (Brooklyn) homeLA and The Bootleg Theater (Los Angeles), UC Irvine, University of Art Gallery (Irvine), Studio1415 and Excello Dance Space (Miami), and4x4 TJ Night 2015 hosted by El Centro Cultural Tijuana and Lux Boreal in Tijuana, Mexico. Sepulveda has previously held a position as lecturer in the Dance Department at the University of California, Riverside, and Associate Faculty in the Dance Department at Mt. San Jacinto College. She was visiting choreographer in the Theatre and Dance Department at Fairfield University and Eastern Connecticut State UIniversity. Sepulveda is a Brithinee Fellow at the Culver Center of the Arts where she is developing solo work driven by her current research interests in female revolutionaries of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, the notion of second class citizen and how a nation-less culture maintains its identity while a colony. Sepulveda is a collaborative performer in the works of various artists including performance artist Nao Bustamante, choreographers Samantha Goodman and Louis Cornejo, artist-scholar Hannah Schwadron, electronic composers Luca Forcucci and no.e Parker, Indigenous choreographer Tanya Lukin Linklater, and visual artist Pavel Acevedo. crystalsepulveda.com

Kim Marcus is a Serrano and Cahuilla Traditional Ceremonial leader, and a Traditional Ceremonial Singer and Bird Singer. Marcus’s family is responsible for reviving the Cahuilla coyote dances, under the direction of Cahuilla elders.

Jacqueline Shea Murphy teaches courses in critical dance studies in UCR’s Dance department. She is author of “The People Have Never Stopped Dancing”: Native American Modern Dance Histories (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), awarded the 2008 de la Torre Bueno Prize for outstanding book of the year in dance STudies by the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS). For over a decade, she has been following the work of Native American and Indigenous choreographers in the US, Canada, and Aotearoa (New Zealand), traveling to see Indigenous dance events and performances and to visit, talk, and dance with Indigenous dancers and choreographers. Drawing on this research and the relationships that have built around it, she has published on the topic of Native American and Indigenous dance history and contemporary choreography in journals including Discourse in Dance, Theatre Research International, Interventions, and Biography. She has helped bring Indigenous dance studies into visibility to dance scholars and to the public through this and other writing, in her lectures and teaching, and also by organizing and producing numerous showcases, panels, and symposia on Indigenous choreography at dance studies conferences, and through the “Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside” project at UC Riverside. She Murphy is writing a new book that engages with ways that contemporary Indigenous choreography inhabits and strengthens Indigenous epistemologies, and is currently editing a Special Issue of Dance Research Journal (DRJ) on “Indigenous Dance Today.”

Rulan Tangen’s dance journey centers around the founding of DANCING EARTH Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations (DE) in 2004. An award-winning contemporary dance ensemble, DANCING EARTH brings together outstanding Native talent in dance, music, costume, lighting, film, photography, spoken word, and all aspects of production for the ecologically themed workshops and performances which tour internationally.

Tangen’s professional performing experience spans international ballet, modern dance, opera, circus, film, and television production in USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, New Zealand, and Europe. She has danced, acted or choreographed for TV including PBS’s “Music From a Painted Cave” and “We Shall Remain” series, Much Music command performance for HRH Princes Charles, as well as in acclaimed films Apocalypto, The New World, Drunktown’s Finest, and Ancestor Eyes, for which she received an Action On Film nomination. Her teaching credentials include Washington University’s Visting Distinguished Scholar; guest artist instructor at Standford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts for “RACE AND ENVIRONMENT”; Native Wellness Institute Leadership Academy; Artistic Residencies at UC Riverside, Santa Fe Art Institute, and Arizona State University; and New Zealand’s Intercreate symposium.

Tangen’s vision is recognized through honors including the first dance fellowship for Artistic Innovation by the Native Arts and cultures Foundation, the Costo Medal for Education, Research and Service by UC Riverside’s Chair of Native Affairs, Dance Magazine’s pick as one of “25 To Watch”, and recently the New Mexico School for the Arts Community Arts Leadership Award. Her work values movement as an expression of Indigenous worldview, including the honoring of matriarchal leadership, dance as functional ritual for transformation and healing, the process of decolonizing the body, and the animistic energetic connection with all forms of life on earth.

Michael Philip Tsosie is an independent scholar at large and enrolled “trouble maker” of the Colorado River Indian Tribe in Parker, Arizona. Michael has taught at UC Riverside in the Ethnic Studies Department and as Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Native Studies program at the University of Victoria. 

Cydney Watson has been dancing for 11 years and has trained in many styles, finding her strengths in hip hop, contemporary and modern dance. She holds a BA and Dance from the University of California, Riverside and was a member of UCR’s Gluck Dance Touring Ensemble for 2 years under the direction of Susan Rose & Born Dance Company under the direction of Won-sun Choi. She’s currently co-director for Eloku Dance Company, a modern dance collective based in Riverside, California, and has been fortunate enough to work with many wonderful choreographers including Marissa Herrera, Crystal Sepulveda, Alfonso Cervera, Rosa Rodriguez-Fraser, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Hannah Schwadron, Jack Gray, Joel Smith and Wendy Rogers. Cydney has performed in San Francisco and New York and will soon be traveling to Mexico, Germany New York to perform original works from her company and works from various projects.

Poster design: Kathleen DeAtley