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Canadian Stage presents MIIGIS: UNDERWATER PANTHER

At the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto

John Lauener for Red Sky Performance

Joe Szekeres

Please note: I have no educational background or training in the art of dance and movement. I will comment on the theatricality of ‘Miigis: Underwater Panther’.

Although I might not have understood every moment presented during Red Sky’s electrifying ‘Miigis: Underwater Panther’, I am still in awe of the pride and the celebration of the artists and their total commitment to sharing an important cultural piece of Canada.

According to Canadian Stage’s website, there is a Red Talk following tonight’s (January 25th) performance about THE GREAT MIGRATION AND THE 7 PROPHECIES with an Anishinaabe cultural keeper I know the weather is nasty outside as I write this article now. Nevertheless, if you are heading to see the show tonight.

I would also strongly recommend people attend the talk after the performance.

I wish my guest and I had the opportunity to do so.

This is not to say to the contrary that ‘Miigis: Underwater Panther’ needs an explanation.

Far from it as there is so much to admire and appreciate about this extraordinarily beautiful cultural piece from Director and Choreographer Sandra Laronde’s extraordinary love and care for the story to Composer Rick Sacks’ and Sound Designers Julian Cote, Pura Fe, Marie Gaudet, Marc Merilainen and Pierre Mongeon’s task in creating a kaleidoscope of varying sounds of music and song harmoniously balanced and pleasing to the ear. The musicians sit on stage right of the story action.

'Miigis: Underwater Panther’ draws its inspiration from a prophecy in which the Anishinaabe must move westward or perish. The story is about the great migration of the Anishinaabe people from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, from salt to freshwater, the rise of matriarchy and the ancestral pull towards the next seven generations.

At this opening night performance, Lesley Hampton’s costume designs to Matt Eckensweiler’s awesome lighting design caught my eyes many times in admiration. Laronde’s exquisite choreography remains breathtaking on all accounts from the majestic athleticism of the dancers to the intimate personal synergy expressed sometimes between the grabbing of hands as the dancers pull themselves forward. Febby Tan’s projected video designs almost appeared 3D to my eyes. There were moments when I actually felt as if I was in the water with the dancers.

I will mention the performers’ names at the end of the article. Their complete dedication to telling the story with grace and dignity in their movements was wonderful.

My journey however in wanting to learn more about our First Nations people and their culture is at a different point from others, and my guest and I so wished we had someone following the performance to help further our understanding of what we had just witnessed.

For the remaining performances, will future audiences have that opportunity to dialogue and share what they have just seen?

Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.

‘Miigis: Underwater Panther’ runs to January 29 at the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto. For tickets visit or call the Box Office at (416) 368-3110.

Director & Choreographer: Sandra Laronde
Composer & Sound Designers: Rick Sacks with Julian Cote, Pura Fe, Marie Gaudet, Marc Merilainen, Pierre Mongeon
Set Designer: Julia Tribe
Costume Designer: Lesley Hampton
Lighting Designer: Matt Eckensweiler
Motion Graphics, Animation & Video Designer: Febby Tan
Hair and Make Up: Alice Norton
Stage Manager: Pip Bradford

Musicians: Ora Barlow-Tukaki (Vocalist and Musician), Marie Gaudet (Musician), Rick Sacks, (Musician), Ian De Souza (Musician)

The Cast; Daniela Carmona, Kristin DeAmorim, Eddie Elliott, Moira Human-Blaise, Jason Martin, Mio Sakamoto

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