||" Smith's evening-length celebration of Mother Earth, finds emotional resonance in its evocation of traditional Iroquois cultural symbols, including the archetypal ancestor spirit, acknowledgment of the powerful four directions, honoring of elders and celebration of the continuity of life as a cycle from birth to death to afterlife and rebirth...Smith and her dancers carry their upper torsos responsive to breath and gravity, connecting them deeply, spiritually, to Mother Earth."
-Lisa Traiger, WASHINGTON POST
"Her choreography is bold, earthy, sensual and exciting..."
-Martin Morrow (Calgary), FFWD
"To see them reveals a fascinating study through gesture, athleticism and art of one culture's view of the mysteries of life."
-James Wegg, (www.jamesweggreview.org)
Ravishing mix of styles and spirits. Her ambitious, full-length Kaha:wi was awarded a standing ovation by an enthusiastic audience, while focusing on a dance artist who can mount classy productions with substance. Smith, a member of the Mohawk Nation, is multitalented. The good-looking cast is a mix of aboriginal and non-aboriginal dancers, and the intermingling of training styles provides an interesting dynamic, with the modern dance smoothing out the Earth-rooted native movements to form a lyrical hybrid with echoes of both. Smiths choreography is a perfect fusion. There are the stamping, rhythmic feet, low-body crouches, spiral turns and arched, angel-winged arms of her Iroquois heritage. And there are also the graceful upper body work, deep contractions, split jumps and partner lifts of her modern-dance training. Her depiction of pregnancy and birth, for example, is very dramatic, as is her erotic partnering for her lovers. The group tribal dances are down-right thrilling. In short, Kaha:wi succeeds because it walks the fine line between a genuine spiritual experience that is also ravishing in its visual components.
-Paula Citron, GLOBE AND MAIL
Breathtaking. Amazing. Empowering. These are all words to describe the world premiere of Santee Smiths production of Kaha:wi at the Premiere Dance Theatre on last week at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. Kaha:wi is the story of humanity regardless of culture. It is a story to which we all can relate. Its the story of life.
-L.M. VanEvery, for the EXPOSITOR/TORONTO
Its both original and aboriginal.
-Janice Mawhinney, TORONTO STAR
The Iroquoian Nation has produced an extraordinarily fine dancer and choreographer in the person of Santee Smith who continues the heritage and tradition of Iroquoian celebrations of life. The force and energy of Santees celebration reaches out into the audience to quicken the heartbeat. In Santees skillful hands, the Creators gift of song and dance to the Onkwehonwe people explodes onto the stage in joyful celebration. Waves of energy sweep across the floor carrying sinuous, supple bodies that sway to the rhythms of life. Powerful music echoes the traditional drumbeat that springs from the living heart of the people. When the primal beat gives way in consciousness to the spectacle of sculpturally arranged bodies, Santee brings it back with the rhythmic slap of feet hitting the stage floor. Santees Kaha:wi is a truly extraordinary celebration of heritage.
-Bob Phillips, TANSI Arts Writer
Santee carries career to new heights with awe-inspiring Kaha:wi. Smiths maturity as an artist was evident. She did not have to be in every scene. In fact, with the fluid changes in scenes and the mastery of the music, she has only enhanced her reputation as one of Canadas top choreographers and dancers.
-Dennis Stark, TANSI Editor/Torontos Aboriginal Newspaper