NAC Free Rein Residency

This summer, The National Arts Centre is partnering with more than 30 Canadian artists through a summer artistic residency program called “Free Rein”―a new three-month-long initiative in support of the renewal of the Canadian performing arts sector. MT Space is fortunate to be partnering with the NAC Dance Section as a conduit to host two of these artists-in-residence locally. We are thrilled and honoured to be incubating the work of Raven Morand and Kate Kamo McHugh, who will be creating this August and sharing their journeys at IMPACT 21. Here’s what they look to explore: 

“The goal of this project is to demonstrate the power of healing through dance for Indigenous folks residing on Turtle Island. Since colonization, Indigenous people have had to endure unjust violence which continues to happen to this day. Indigenous folks have also had to display incredible amounts of resilience while also battling intergenerational trauma and cycles of abuse. In recent weeks, the public has become aware of over a thousand unmarked graves of Indigenous children at a handful of residential schools in the colonial state of Canada. With hundreds more of residential schools to be searched, that number is sure to climb. For many of us, dancing is what feeds our spirits, how we connect/reconnect with our culture, how we pass down our culture to the next generations to come, and one of our most important healing tools. This project will have three dancers within their own categories explore what healing through dance means to them and dance in honor of all those children who never made it home.” – Raven Morand 

“My project is a solo dance piece called Michiko (working title), an exploration of Japanese Canadian identity―cultural loss, retention and creation. During my Free Rein residency, the central question I will be exploring is: Throughout my Japanese family’s five generations in Canada, what has been lost culturally and what remains? I will be looking at critical aspects like language, physical appearance, and family names. Michiko is my grandmother’s name, my middle name, and the Japanese name I gave to my Gosei (fifth) generation daughter. I cherish this name, like the other Japanese cultural elements that remain in our family. After experiencing ostracization during WWII, families like mine tried to become as Canadian as possible―distancing themselves from all that is Japanese and accelerating this cultural loss. Today, families like mine are proud of their heritage and trying to access the cultural remains of generations past. I first started to think about this piece with the 2019 birth of my daughter, the first member of our family’s fifth generation. How would I explain to her why we’ve lost so much of our Japanese culture? Through this residency, I hope to discover more about my family and peoples’ history.” – Kate Kamo McHugh 

About the Artists 

Raven Morand is an Anishinaabe/Metis Kwe from Thunder Bay. She grew up spending summers in her home community of Migisi Sahgaigan (Eagle Lake First Nation) and moved to Kitchener, Ontario with her family when she was 4. Raven is a dedicated pow wow dancer and has been dancing Fancy Shawl for over a decade. Raven has been the head female dancer at many pow wows and enjoys her culture through dance and beadwork. Raven actively engages with her community through sitting on pow wow committees and attending community events. Raven is an activist and organizer and a strong advocate for Indigenous sovereignty and land defense. 

Kate Kamo McHugh is a performing artist and educator from Kitchener, Ontario. Some professional highlights for Kate include dancing for Disney Cruise lines, working in children’s theatre in South America, and being part of MT Space’s inaugural Arts Exchange. Earlier this year, Kate was honoured to co-facilitate a movement-based workshop for the Newcomer Youth Program in partnership with MT Space and the YMCA. Kate is currently rehearsing with Cosmic Fishing Theatre and excited to perform for an audience again post-COVID. She holds a BFA from Ryerson University in Theatre Performance Dance.  

Special Thanks & Acknowledgement 

Cathy Levy & NAC Dance 

Andrea Nann