In Conversation With Santee Smith

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The River Run was very lucky to have an Internationally recognized Indigenous performing arts leader Santee Smith to launch the new, Miijidaa Life Stories speakers series.  Entering the Cooperators Hall you could sense it would be an intimate evening filled with insight into the life of a creative soul.

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The stage was set with beautiful costumes and 2 chairs one which was guest, Santee Smith and the other was taken by host, Cameron Smillie who wears many hats in both the corporate and the performing arts world.  The night began with host asking Santee a few questions about the very beginnings of her life.  Here is a link to one of her past performances, https://ca.video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcasa&p=santee+smith+performances#id=1&vid=dc32e16c556d47d42d02114c9a408845&action=view.

Santee shared with the audience that she is from the Turtle Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River, Haldimand Treaty territory.  She shared with us that she is a proud Mother to a 20-year-old daughter who is currently studying at the University, and like most parents could not believe where the time went.

It was hard to imagine what the early years of life were like for the beautiful women who took centre stage.  She had endured much hardship in the early years and mentioned many of the events she did not remember.  At age 3 she had endured the first of three accidents which left a major impression on the life of such a young soul.

At the young age of just 3 years old she was run over in a car by her Grandmother.  She endured many injuries and was hospitalized for over 3 months and many weeks of rehabilitation to learn to walk again.  Then recovering from this injury she was riding on a bicycle with her father who was at the time a carefree 20 something year old riding down a hill with his baby girl strapped on the back of his bike with a homemade carrier and by the time they had made it down to the bottom she had somehow fallen off the bike with her ankle caught in the spokes of the wheel facing the opposite direction.

With three accidents at the age of just 3 years old she needed to regain strength and with her dancing ability at such a young age she began her journey of entering the world of ballet.  She shared with the audience that thru her natural talents and her dedication she was accepted in the National Ballet School at age 11.  So at that preadolescent age she left home and studied.  Her close-knit family would call her and tell her she, “She could come home at any time, that they would just come and pick her up”.  However by the end of the call she shares she would feel better and carry on with her love and passion of the dance world. 

Dance and the performing arts was Santee’s whole world and left little for much else.  She finally became disillusioned with the dance world, and left at Grade 11 to explore other options.  She didn’t realize there was another world outside of dance until she began exploring what every other young women at the age explores, which she giggled and said “included a few parties along the way!”

She ended up going back to school and entered University and gained a degree in Kinesiology and thought she would work a physical therapist until she entered the profession and realized it was not for her.  Her love of psychology that she minored in allowed for more schooling and she eventually realized that she wanted to return back to the performing arts.

We watched 3 short films which showcased a few of Santee’s work.  The audience could gain a better insight into the creative force who sat in front of us, with the host describing how Santee’s ability to process the start and finish of each production with all of the elements such as idea, dance, choreograph, design, execution many times are the sole work of the multi talented artist.

When asked what is next by host you could tell that may take a whole other evening of conversation with Santee to delve into her world and share her vision for the future of her arts, including the Kawa:wi Dance Theatre which has served as a vehicle for Smith’s practice for than a decade.  She founded the theatre in 2005, Kaha:wi means “to carry” in Mohawk.

She was available for a VIP experience of post show Meet & Greet which took place in the Sleeman Atrium.  Here is a link with some of her students at her performing arts centre, https://ca.video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcasa&p=santee+smith+performances#id=5&vid=921d0693d8a508735bff8388abea67f5&action=view

I look forward to more performances at the River Run Centre, here is a listing of upcoming “WHAT”S ON”, http://riverrun.ca/events/whats-on/?event_search=&event_month=&event_category=river-run-presents

Talk soon ~

 

Nancy

Jason Raso “Funktet”

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I attended my first Jason Raso performance last night, and I can tell you it will not be my last.  What a wonderful intimate evening with local Guelphite Bassist, Jason and his “Funktet”, http://riverrun.ca/whats-on/the-jason-raso-funktet/.   They kicked off the Borealis Music Series at the River Run Centre last night to a full house of Jazz loving attendees. 

My daughter Meaghan who was my date for the evening, is in grade 7 and just starting her musical journey.  She chose the trumpet as an instrument to play in her music class.  She was watching the 6 piece band playing and I knew she had her eye on the trumpet when she nudged me and whispered, “Mom could I get my own mouthpiece?”  I gave her a hug and whispered back, “of course Meaghan!”, being that I played trumpet in the high school band I knew the importance of having something of your own in the musical instrument world.  I secretly can’t wait for her to come home for the first time carrying thru the door her school loaner trumpet for the weekend.

 Jason the bassist lead guitar player and his band, include a trumpet, keyboard, guitar, saxophone, and a drummer. They began their first set with the spotlight on the trumpet soloist.   Band leader, Jason Raso began strumming along, slowly introducing all of the 6 piece “Funktet”.   I had always wanted to attend one of Jason’s performance’s.  He has been performing for crowds for over two decades and is very well-respected within the local community and is a very busy professional playing worldwide. Check out his website here, https://www.jasonrasomusic.com/.

Memories of my first live Jazz performances came flooding back during the night.  My first real introduction to live Jazz was in Montreal nightclub, I will never forget the first time I sat and listened to a bluesy live jazz performer in a smokey club in Montreal.  My mother’s love of Diana Washington & Ella Fitzgerald playing loudly in the background of my youth also helped to in grain the love of Jazz.

One of my favorite songs of the night titled Eviction, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DET6ZZf3NoY .  He shared with the audience his inspiration for the writing of the song came from a photo he saw of a beautiful shiny expensive guitar sitting in a room of what looked to be someone who was down on their luck.

During this song I had visualized a troubled soul who had to choose to sell their instrument at a pawn shop just to survive. This image along with the haunting sounds of the band conjured up feelings of loss and sadness of long forgotten dreams.  Oh, the power of music to paint such a vivid portrait of the human condition.

Later in the evening he dedicated a song to his father.  Pointing him out in the audience he joked that the last time he had done that his father had excused himself to the facilities, the audience roared.  These comments and others felt like you were part of his family and maybe sitting in his living room watching the live performance, which I am sure many of the attendees in this cozy venue would agree upon.  If you ever get a chance to attend or listen to his music I highly recommend that you do so.

 

Talk soon,

 

Nancy

 

Cirque Eloize Saloon

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The performance of the Cirque Eloize Saloon was riveting for all in the audience who were lucky enough to attend a sold out performance at the River Run Centre in our Royal City.  The theatrical musical acrobatic play began with the sound of a train coming into town with just the sight of a headlight in the darkness, centre stage was a cowboy hat western musician playing the banjo.  It certainly set the tone of a good ol Western frontier with all of the elements you would expect a saloon, train, horses and unlike a lot of Westerns an amazing cast of acrobatic performances who’s performance left you on the edge of your seat. 

The Montreal based Cirque Eloize has been entertaining crowds since 1993.  The inspiration for this award-winning leading contemporary circus is lead by ringleader Jeannot Painchaud, who is President and CEO of this amazing group of over 100 individuals who make up this talented touring show.  Mr. Painchaud said in an interview once, “I got into the circus because I used to dream of traveling the entire globe.  It’s the most accessible, most beautiful way that I’ve found to do it.” 

Watching the audiences reactions I noticed a middle-aged man in front of me, who had a smile and an almost child like grin on his face the entire time during the performance.  This was the magic of the 90 minute performance it transported you to another world, the Wild West Circus world!

My 12-year-old daughter belongs to the Centre Wellington Children’s Drama Club, performed a play called the Great Canadian WEastern last year and she shared with me this brought back memories of her Western play.  She nudged me on a few occasions and commented, “Wow, they must really trust each other”, as the amazing artists displayed impressive strength and agility when they performed the many acts. 

We watched a performer twirling inside a Cyr wheel, which was invented by co-founder of the Cirque Eloize and graduate of the Montreal’s National Circus School.  I cannot imagine the sheer strength & many hours of perfecting their trade  it takes to maneuver the many moves they did, with the Arial straps, Chinese Pole, wooden planks and juggling.

My girlfriend who attended the performance with me said one of her favorite parts was the slow motion reverse and forward which was all in perfect timing during their saloon fight scene.  The performance included much of the Canadian history of building the railroad, gold rush, infused with lots of humor and don’t forget every Western needs a good romance too.  The entire show included live music with banjo, fiddle, guitar, piano and amazing vocals.

This performance is the first of The Wooly Pub Family Series, check out the River Run Centre for a full list of all of the performances taking place this 2018-2019 season, http://riverrun.ca/.

 

Talk soon ~

Nancy

 

 

Chatting with, Lisa Browning – 2018 Guelph Y Women of Distinction Honoree

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WHO ARE YOU?

 

Name: Lisa Browning

Birthplace: Toronto

Where do you live? Guelph

Career: Assistant Manager, Graduate & Professional Programs, Ontario Universities’ Application Centre

PLUS

Owner & Publisher, One Thousand Trees

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU, TO BE A “2018 GUELPH Y WOMEN OF DISTINCTION?”

It means the world to me! Being selected as a Woman of Distinction has given me such a feeling of acknowledgement.

It’s funny … at first I felt very uncomfortable (those old “Who do you think you are?!” messages were loud and clear!). But I’ve challenged those messages, and now, to be in the company of so many incredible women, my co-honourees, is such a blessing! I am deeply grateful to those who nominated me, and to the selection committee for having chosen me for this honour.

 

“IT TAKES A VILLAGE”, is this year’s theme. Describe who / what your village is like?

I am blessed to have a community of like-minded people, who have been through their own struggles, and because of that, are passionate about empowering others, and spreading the message that there is always light after the darkness.

 

WHERE do you find Inspiration?

I find my inspiration in nature. I walk my dog twice a day, on a trail through the wetlands surrounding my subdivision. It is there that I find peace, and that ideas and inspiration just naturally come to me. The energy of the trees is amazing, and it gives me peace. When my mind is quiet, I am able to dream.

 

 

 

 Favorite quote / and or a favorite person?

This one is easy! My favourite quote of all time is by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.

 

WHY did you choose this career, or did it choose you?

When I started One Thousand Trees, I had planned for it to be only a monthly on-line magazine, even though my background is in publishing. But one thing led to another (as it always does when we are doing something that we are passionate about), and the company has taken on a life of its own. I know that my purpose in this life is to empower others through telling their stories and speaking their truth, so I think I can say I chose the career, but it also chose me.

 

 Tell us something people usually don’t know about you?

Hmmm … that’s a tough question. I think I’m pretty transparent.

 

WHAT did you want to be as a child?

VERY interesting question! (Or, perhaps, my answer is very telling!) I went back and forth between two different things: a writer, and a psychologist. (Maybe not as a young child – for the psychologist for sure – but certainly by high school.)

The interesting part is that now my passion is empowering others by telling their stories! I guess I’ve melded both of those aspirations!

 

 

 Contact Information: * (Where can people find your business/organization)

 

Email Address: lisa@onethousandtrees.com

Website: http://www.onethousandtrees.com

Phone: 519-362-5494

 

Thank You Lisa for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat with Wandering Wellington County! 

Lisa is one of the twenty women who you will meet May, 3rd at the River Run Centre, Guelph Y 2018 Women of Distinction Honorees at the Fundraising Gala. Please join us at this great fundraising gala for the Guelph YMCA/YWCA, here the link for more information.

https://www.guelphy.org/en/community-events-and-programs/women-of-distinction.aspx

 

Talk Soon ~

 

Nancy

 

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