Red Sky Lifts Rodeo Spirits

By Bob Clark

Calgary Herald, Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tradition is not static, culture is not static and language is not static,” says Red Sky artistic director Sandra Laronde. “Everything moves, desires to evolve, grow - that’s the principle of life.

“You can feel that momentum, and it’s very exciting to be part of it, knowing that you can invite thousands of people in to share.

That’s the philosophy behind Red Sky’s High Performance Rodeo family show, Sun Spirits, a sophisticated production which has played to sold-out audiences everywhere from the National Arts Centre and Toronto’s Roy Thompson Hall to the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Founded by Laronde in 2000, Red Sky is a Toronto-based company that creates and produces original works intended to broaden exposure to aboriginal culture, as well as connect indigenous cultures around the world.

For those with any misconceptions about what aboriginal theatre is, well - “We’re really interested in blowing that apart,” Laronde says.

Sun Spirits, presented Jan. 26 at Jack Singer Concert Hall, offers a double dose of storytelling, combining theatre, dance and music: Raven Stole the Sun, a traditional Tlingit tale from the West Coast, recast by author Drew Hayden Taylor; and well-known Canadian playwright Tomson Highway’s Caribou Song.

We’re creating and doing the kind of work that I have not seen in Canada before,” Laronde says. “A lot of people will say to me, ‘Red Sky is so cutting-edge because you do theatre, dance, mask work, storytelling, live music (marimba, guitar and percussion in the case of Sun Spirits), and infuse this all in one seamless price. To which I reply, thank you, but that it’s really a legacy that we’re carrying forward, because we’ve always created artistic expression like in this way."

I guess that means our people have been ‘cutting-edge’ for centuries.”

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