The Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joseph Boyden have recently collaborated in the ballet production, Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation. Boyden is the author of the bestselling historical novel The Orenda. Between his transformational storytelling and the RWB’s impeccable performance, Going Home Star brought to light not only the painful experiences endured within residential schools, but also how this pain continues to affect today's society.
Going Home Star tells the stories of Annie, a twenty-something contemporary First Nations woman who is disconnected from her cultural history, and Gordon, a homeless First Nations man who was born on a reserve, but quickly forced into the Residential School System. The stories of Annie and Gordon bridge as Annie is exposed to a series of unpleasant interactions with urban commuters. The two are drawn to each other, as Annie thinks Gordon can help her connect with her past, and Gordon – despite his conflicted past – wants to help Annie reconnect with her spirit.
Gordon struggles with the reoccurring memory of two First Nations children, Niska and Charlie, who were forced from their home to be educated by clergymen. Niska and Charlie are stricken by sexual and physical abuse. This memory haunts the stage, but it also reaffirms the sadistic truth of the Residential School System.
Gordon’s visual memories can evoke many different emotional responses for the audience. It is at this point within Going Home Star that the audience is no longer spectators, but participants. The visual presentation of truth fuels the audience to action; they can now share the truth and aid in the healing process.
Annie and Gordon provide each other with strength and support that allows for continued healing through their journey of truth and reconciliation. It is this partnership in healing and reconnection with each other that needs to be recognized and encouraged today.
History can be told through many methods and it is through dance that the story of Annie and Gordon can resonate so powerfully with the audience. Going Home Star is a dynamic performance of dance, audio, and graphics that does more than tell a history, it shares an experience.
Upon entering Centennial Concert Hall the audience was greeted by a variety of presentations that would provide insight and context for the coming performance. The two presentations that garnered the most attention were the pre-show "Elders' Corner' with Barb and Clarence Nepinak and the 100 Years of Loss exhibition that has been traveling Canada since 2011.
Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation premiered in Winnipeg at the Centennial Concert Hall with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, featuring Tanya Tagaq and Steve Wood & the Northern Cree Singers on October 1st to 5th, 2014.
Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation was produced with the support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in memory of the late Elder Mary Richard, Ah Kha Ko cheesh who inspired this project.
Note: To view photo captions display slideshow in full screen and at the top right select "show info."