Albuquerque Journal

Bringing messages to the universe: New work by Dancing Earth a ‘ritual’ responding to violence of resource extraction

It’s been a hectic two weeks for Rulan Tangen. Days have been long due to hours of practice. But it’s for the good of the performance. “I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to bring messages to the universe and showcase the power of media,” Tangen says. “That’s the real gift.” Tangen is the founder of Dancing Earth, the Santa Fe-based dance company that brings world-class contemporary Indigenous dancers together in telling stories. The company will preview its latest piece, “Between Underground + Skyworld or BTW US,” tonight at the James A. Little Theater in Santa Fe. Tangen describes the new production as a “performance ritual” in response to the violence of natural resource extraction. The critical state of the environment globally acts as the proverbial fuel for the intense bodily response to re-imagine a futurism rooted in Indigenous-led sustainability….

-By ADRIAN GOMEZ / JOURNAL ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR



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Rulan Tangen
DANCING EARTH: OF BODIES OF ELEMENTS

THE VISIONARY NOTE, so often applied to descriptions of Vaslav Nijinsky, easily persists in the accomplished miracles of speed, agility, grace, and sensuality that articulate the choreography of Rulan Tangen’s extraordinary of Bodies of Elements. Of Nijinsky, Paul Claudel once wrote, “For a second the soul carries the body, [then] this vestment becomes a flame, and matter has passed.” In Tangen’s work, one can see this effect to its limit, an apotheosis of the oblique, shaped, shaded, and nuanced—in hyperkinetic motion. Performed during the weekend of Indian Market at the James A. Little Theatre, and staged coincidentally during one of the most spectacular lightning storms of the summer, of Bodies of Elements gathers every major dance trend of the past millennia into a portrait of the world that is as beautiful and disturbing as watching cell division under a microscope. Divided into two acts, it allows the principles of order and disorder to find a kind of grace in one another, and it provides a portrait of a world that can contain you and still let you be, through dance.

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Rulan Tangen
REVIEW - Seeds Regeneration by Dancing Earth

Rulan Tangen’s company, Dancing Earth, performed the culmination of a six-year project called …SEEDS: RE GENERATION… in Santa Fe this April. After the audience arrived to watch the show at Wise Fool, the first action of the work was a Tewa ritual to transform and Indigenize the space. Tangen then removed her socks, saying, “Now I can place my feet on this sacred Tewa land.” It was a powerful opening to a piece that arises from Indigenous dialogues and was, on that occasion, being witnessed by a mostly non-Indigenous audience. We were now in a different space.

The dance traces a meditative journey from creation to the dismaying current condition of our planet and ends with an expression of hope. The creative process behind this piece involved intertribal exchanges between artists, Native elders, farmers, foragers, seed savers, and food and water justice groups. “It’s an emergent process,” Tangen explains. “One of our greatest tools of resilience is the quality of our storytelling. It is how Indigenous people retain connection to who we are.”

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Rulan Tangen
DANCING EARTH TO PERFORM AT “INDIGENOUS NOW” EVENT IN SANTA MONICA’S TONGVA PARK

The event is to focus on the Tongva people, who officials say are the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar, which was composed of the Los Angeles basin and the Southern Channel Islands. The Tongva people have been indigenous to the Los Angeles Basin for approximately 7,000 years, and their history has been well documented through thousands of archaeological sites, in State historical records, federal archives, and records found in the archives of San Gabriel and San Fernando Missions. While researching the Tongva people I read that the “18 lost treaties” of the US recognized the Tongva but that they were never adopted. The United States, from the mid-1940s to the  mid-1960s, had a policy of “Assimilation” of Native American Tribes, where the Gabrielino-Tongva tribes were effectively terminated. They were enslaved and forced to build the two aforementioned missions.

- By Jeff Slayton

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Rulan Tangen
SEEDS RE:GENERATION 2019 - Kennedy Center D.C. - Watch the Performance!

...SEEDS : RE GENERATION…  is a purposeful performance that Indigen-izes space as vital transformative gathering ground. Centered in Indigenous ecological knowledge, residencies culminate in an immersive, interdisciplinary, and participatory contemporary dance ritual. ...SEEDS : RE GENERATION… evolves from Dancing Earth’s intertribal artists in exchanges with Native elders, farmers, foragers, seed savers, and food and water justice groups, in visioning sessions and movement workshops that root our restoring/restory-ing of land and people. With the core theme of resilient adaptability, this work can be hosted by indoor or outdoor sites with opening dance designed to adapt to people and place.

The presentation of …SEEDS: RE GENERATION… by Dancing Earth Creations was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Rulan Tangen
CHASING SANTA FE - DANCING EARTH - HONORED AT THE KENNEDY CENTER

RULAN TANGEN is the brilliant Founding Director and Choreographer of DANCING EARTH, a Santa Fe indigenous contemporary dance ensemble that has brought vibrant cultural arts performances to 18 states and 8 countries and will perform this Friday evening at the Kennedy Center. 

Rulan will be honored with the CITIZEN ARTIST AWARD for her work's embodiment of: Service, Freedom, Courage, and Gratitude. She has been instrumental in the lives of a generation of emerging indigenous performing artists, providing a creative and cultural environment that fosters personal growth and superior development of craft in movement arts.

This past weekend, DANCING EARTH performed at WISE FOOL - SEEDS RE-GENERATION - to celebrate the Kennedy Center honor and  I  tried to capture  the vibrancy of the performance...

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Rulan Tangen
Celebrating Earth Day Through Dance - Dancing Earth explores relationships to the land in unique performance


"They tried to bury us, but they didn't know we were seeds." This refrain is at the center of Indigenous-identified company Dancing Earth's performance, SEEDS : RE GENERATION, performed in honor of National Dance Week and Earth Day at Wide Fool this weekend. The performance, inspired by the three sisters (corn, beans and squash), is a celebration of Indigenous food sovereignty and an exploration of regeneration and resilience through Indigenous cultural perspectives.

- By Alex De Vore, Leah Cantor and Charlotte Jusinski - April 16

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Rulan Tangen
Celebrating Contemporary Native Issues Through MovementDancing Earth presents “SEEDS: RE GENERATION”

March 31, 2019 by Emily Van Cleve 

Dance

Dancing Earth’s production “SEEDS: RE GENERATION” is a work that’s been developing for many years. It has emerged from the interactions that the company’s dancers have had with Native American elders, farmers, seed savers and members of food and water justice groups. At its heart is the theme of resilient adaptability.

Wise Fool New Mexico hosts “SEEDS: RE GENERATION” on April 20. After presenting it in Santa Fe, Dancing Earth heads to Washington, D.C. to perform the work at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“The production has been growing for many years,” says dancer Rulan Tangen, who founded Dancing Earth in New Mexico 2004. “There was a summer several years ago when we were dancing outdoors, in the hot sun among rocks and cacti, because we couldn’t afford a rehearsal space. I also didn’t know how I was going to feed my dancers. Farmers in the area stepped up and gave us food. This was so uplifting.”

The work that farmers do is an essential part of “SEEDS: RE GENERATION.” While dancers move on stage, a soundscape projects voices of elders who talk about water, farming, creation stories, renewal and regeneration and issues of sustainability. 

Sustainability is a guiding force for Dancing Earth. Tangen carefully considers how she costumes her dancers and creates props. Recycled and organic salvaged materials are often incorporated into productions. 

Based in Santa Fe but performing worldwide, Dancing Earth is comprised of Indigenous-identified dancers and collaborators. In the company’s mission statement, Tangen says, “We gather as individual artists to create experimental yet elemental dances that reflect our rich cultural heritage and to explore identity as contemporary Native peoples. We strive to embody the unique essences of Indigenous multi-tribal perspectives by creation and renewal of artistic and cultural movement rituals.”

- March 31, 2019 by Emily Van Cleve 

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Rulan Tangen