Toronto dance festival bringing international Indigenous artists to Ryerson

In Arts & Culture, IndigenousLeave a Comment

Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Alexandra Holyk

If the Toronto International Film Festival isn’t quite your scene, then join your fellow Ryerson students in welcoming the arrival of the Fall for Dance North Festival (FFDN) being presented on campus.

FFDN is a Toronto-based international dance festival, as well as a non-profit organization. According to their website, FFDN’s goal is “to reflect Toronto’s multiculturalism, create an atmosphere of shared discovery, and entice people to attend live dance performance throughout the year.”

In partnership with the Ryerson School of Performance, FFDN is showcasing a three-day program at the Ryerson Theatre that will feature Indigenous artists from around the world. 

From Oct. 4 to 6, residents of Toronto are invited to watch groups from New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan debut their Indigenous choreographic stylings for the first time in North America. 

One of the Toronto-based dances titled “Mani.Deux,” choreographed by two-spirited Ojibwe contemporary dance artist Cody Berry, is expected to take the Ryerson Theatre stage for its world premiere. 

“Mani.Deux” is a celebration of a non-binary Indigenous identity of the same name, Berry says. The term is connected to the Ojibwe word “manidoo,” meaning spirit, along with “deux,” French for two. It is also related to the Anishinaabemowin term niizh manidoowag or “two-spirit.”

Berry was inspired by the quote, “The acceptance I was looking for was in the culture I tried to run from.” The choreographer combines the elements of water and thunder—representing the contrast between femininity and masculinity—as well as a Debwewin short story titled, “Inside Me” by Ronald Geyshick.

“I would like to bring this subject to light as I believe it’s a concept that is rarely explored through contemporary movement,” Berry said. “I’m hoping that I can contribute to the next Canadian Indigenous generation, not having to ask so many questions of who they are [or] were,” adding that he hopes to share a message of acceptance through his piece.

Berry has been working with Tavia Christina, a two-spirited Métis dance student at Ryerson University; Mio Sakamoto, a Toronto-based artist from Japan; Trion Jourdain, a traditional drummer and singer from Lac La Croix First Nation; and Kirsten Sullivan, whom Berry believes is “an important contributor to the Toronto dance community.”

Berry will be holding an open studio rehearsal of “Mani.Deux” at Union Station on Sept 23. Showtimes throughout the three days of the festival can be found on the FFDN website

“I can see the Toronto Dance scene is thriving with diversity with multiple shows being offered around the city throughout the year,” Berry said. “Although the Toronto dance community is strongly supported by one another, there seems to be a gap between big audiences [and] general public. FFDN successfully contributes to filling this gap—which is why this festival is extremely important.”

Leave a Comment