FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Passey | BrianP@ScottsdaleArts.org | 480-874-4626
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts debuts new Native theatrical work
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — “DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style,” a new theatrical work, created by Derrick Suwaima Davis that tells a story of seasons and cycles and the value of respecting the natural order of the universe, will debut May 7 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
“We all have ancestors, and ancestors around the world use the sun, moon and stars to migrate and build, all the while appreciating and encouraging the natural order of the universe,” said Suwaima, who is Hopi and Choctaw. “‘DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style’ celebrates not only human life but our relationship with the life of the universe. I hope the audience will be inspired to carry on the important responsibility of stewardship and restore and renew Mother Earth. Live to dance, and dance to live.”
Although Suwaima created the show and acts as its artistic director, drawing on experience from his past Native Trails productions, he is quick to note how the other performers contributed to the show’s creation, including musical composition and dancing. Joining Suwaima for the program are performers from multiple Arizona-based tribes, including Hopi, O’odham, Diné and Apache dancers and musicians.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts values the opportunity to present “DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE” and the artists who are part of the production.
“We recognize our performing arts center sits on unceded and unsurrended Indigenous homelands,” said Abbey Messmer, director of programming at the center. “For many years, we have been honored to present numerous performances by Suwaima and his Native Trails productions, which have provided opportunities for Native artists from diverse tribes — including multiple tribes based here in Maricopa County and throughout Arizona — to share their traditional movements and music. ‘DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style’ continues that legacy with an exciting new work that Suwaima has developed in response to receiving a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.”
Suwaima said audiences typically enjoy the singing and dancing that has been part of his Native Trails productions, but there’s another important aspect to those shows and this new work: history. Because these productions are steeped in the traditions of various Southwest tribes, there is a prominent educational aspect that Suwaima said people tend to enjoy.
He also said the performances allow him and other Native performers to address stereotypes of Indigenous culture and people through light-hearted humor.
“’DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style” combines individual numbers focusing on music and dance to tell a story of universe, this planet and the living creatures who dwell here, including human beings. Some of the performances draw on traditions of specific Southwest tribes, from the Tohono O’odham to the Apache, while others refer to common powwow performances, most often linked to the traditions of Great Plains cultures.
Suwaima began participating in powwows at the age of 3, and when the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened, he was honored to be designated as head man dancer at its inaugural powwow. He is the founder and artistic director of The Living Traditions Dance Troupe and an eight-time Hoop Dance World Champion. Suwaima has traveled the world as a cultural ambassador, sharing his dance and his culture through collaborations with the Heard Museum, American Indian Dance Theatre, Billy Ray Cyrus and Willie Nelson.
“DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style” will debut May 7 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, Arizona. Tickets are $8 – $18. Visit ScottsdalePerformingArts.org/events or call Scottsdale Arts Guest Services at 480-499-TKTS (8587) for more information.
“DANCING WITH THE UNIVERSE | Native Style” is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.