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Workshops & Residencies


Early in my career, I was fortunate to find a “mentor”. Or did the mentor find me? That mentor, Barry Lynn, gave me the ultimate gift: a one-to-one interactive relationship of elder to apprentice involving the kind of friendship and discipline leading to creative work. We took class in his little house in Salt Lake City in two adjoining rooms that were so small we had to perform dance sequences in figure-eight pathways. His energy and openness was the embodiment of a love for life that I have carried with me through the years. The acquiring of dance technique was taught in the midst of personal wit and wisdom, insight and humour: I learned about loving life in spite of poverty and the prejudice. Glorious moments on stage became an extension of the struggle and pedantry of everyday life. One comment from Barry stayed with me for years. He said I needed to “get away from my face” -meaning what? Perhaps: you have to get beyond yourself to find yourself.

With the study of mime at the Wisconsin Mime Company under Reid Gilbert, I was given a way to “get away from my face”. In the process, I found that the mask can be a way to conceal one’s own face, but it can also be a way to take on another’s face, another character. For me, the mask became a way into Indigenous myth, into the notion of the creator, the trickster, the woman who saves her people and all the other stories of why things are as they are.  The masked dance gave me a way to physicalize the arch of Indigenous story which is transformation

The influence of professional inspiration came full circle with Jose Limon. Under a scholarship from Lee Udall’s Center for Indian America, I was fortunate to study with Jose Limon at Juilliard School in NYC. My fortune was doubled by being given a private class in choreography with Mr. Limon: he was dedicated to the mission of creating new native modern dance choreographers. One of the last acts of his life was to make a personal visit to the Flandreau Indian School where I had been sent as a teacher by the Center, to witness Lakota students  performing “Gift of the Pipe”. 

My association with Marrie Mumford is one reaching back to 2003 when she first invited me to present at the Aboriginal Arts Program at the Banff Centre for Arts.
In a workshop on Wolf: A Transformation, I taught movement sequences from the work to the students studying at that time: among others, Sid Bobb and Penny Couchie. It was the first time that I saw a veritable “family” of wolves dancing! Over the years that were to follow, I would be fortunate to have Santee Smith (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre), Rose Stella (Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Toronto), Geraldine Manossa  and Sandra Lamouche grace the stage as Daystar performers.

After a few summers at Banff, Marrie asked me to join her at Trent University as a member of the faculty to develop and implement the curriculum of what is now the Indigenous Performance Studies program. The next five years became a surprising process for me, since I had the opportunity to revisit several of the Daystar repertoire choreographies: The Gift of the Pipe (Lakota), Wisdom of the Corn Mother (Eastern Cherokee) and Legend of the Black Butterfly (Maidu)  as I worked with the students as a teacher, choreographer and production director. I like to think that perhaps I was a mentor to a few of them. Seen anew through the eyes of spirited youth each work expanded and transformed into a larger work with broader cultural and dramatic meaning.

In the end, the gift of creativity has been a two-way street. I have also learned from students and from my colleagues. In particular, I have learned from the Elders here who opened doors into their “ways of knowing’. Chi-miigwech to all.


Rosalie M. Jones © 2011





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