‘Trace’ explores astronomy through dance

Performance, storytelling, and physics used to explore the universe’s history

Discussion on Two-Eyed Seeing followed Red Sky Performance’s ‘Trace.’
Supplied by Red Sky Performance

Through dance and discussion, the Isabel Bader Center encouraged spectators to consider the origins of the universe on Mar. 28. Presented by the McDonald Institute and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, the evening began with Trace, a dance production from Red Sky Performance.

Inspired by Anishinaabe sky and star stories, Trace investigated the universe’s beginning, our ancestorial origins, and potential future evolutions through a captivating combination of kinetic dance and projected images of nature and astronomy.

The mixed-media performance entranced the audience, making it clear why Red Sky Performance won two Dora Mavor Moore Awards and was nominated for four Dora Awards for Trace.

After the performance, the event transitioned into a thoughtful discussion about Two-Eyed Seeing—a way of studying astronomy through both Western and Indigenous perspectives. Astronomer Melanie Demers, an environmental and social analyst of Kanyen’kehá:ka descent, began the discussion by explaining the importance of Two-Eyed Seeing.

Demers explored how society can incorporate different perspectives, suggesting Indigenous and Western knowledge systems work best when considered alongside each other.

She represented the Indigenous ‘eye’ of understanding, while discussing the universe’s creation and existence. She also shared star stories and told the tale of Turtle Island. The Western ‘eye’ was represented by David Hanes, professor emeritus in Queen’s Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy.

Hanes’ daughter spent time in the Queen’s Indigenous Teaching Program and inspired him to start addressing Indigenous knowledge systems in his teachings.

Both astronomers led thoughtful discussions and answered questions posed by audience members, ranging from Turtle Island’s creation to thoughts on dark matter and the Big Bang.


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