Dance is to Indigenous communities as breathing is to survival. “Dance has always been part of our culture since time immemorial. It is a cultural expression at its purest and as old as humanity itself,” explains director/producer Jason Brennan. “It’s part of our ceremonies, it has always been part of who we are, and it continues to be part of who we are. Dance is also one of the strongest ways of bringing people together. It creates unity, collaboration, and cohesion. That is one of the reasons ceremonial dance was outlawed and almost eradicated by colonialism. Thankfully, it has survived, and we are now seeing a resurgence, not only in traditional dance, but in all types of dances and that’s the beauty of this art form. It evolves while still remaining true to its origin: the body in motion as a way for people to express feelings, express who they are, and also heal.” His new variety TV series, Pulse, showcases the depth and versatility of this bond. The title itself has roots in the thriving vitality of the origins of dance. “Dance started as an instinctive response to the beat of the human heart. Indigenous peoples translate that heartbeat with the drum. The drum becomes Earth’s heartbeat. So that visceral connection to the rhythm becomes like a pulse, fueling our body with the desire to express itself. The pulse is that feeling that you get in your body when the drum resonates, it’s what flows through your veins when the music fills you. It is also a metaphorical statement – we are still here. Alive and dancing. Is there a grander avowal of life than having a strong pulse?” Every incarnation of dance reflects the splendor of the world around us. “Traditional Pow Wow and social dances are often direct expressions of the natural world (observation of animals or nature, for example). That being said, all forms of dance, whether it be contemporary, ballet, hip hop, etc., all have this in common: Dance is to the human body what wind is to Mother Earth; it moves freely, inspired by the surrounding elements.”
Jason was thrilled by the prospect of producing this show and humbled to highlight such a broad spectrum of creative ingenuity. “Right from the start, I knew it would be a wonderful project. Dances are so visual and to be able to capture that and elevate each dancer’s craft was exciting for us. Diving deep into the art form itself and exploring so many variations was something really stimulating and pushed us creatively. Finding out the different ways that we could capture these dancers in their element and showing how skillful they are was something incredibly gratifying. We were proud to provide a platform for these talented people to showcase and share their art. We are really grateful that APTN saw the value in the project and wanted to give us a window to bring it to audiences.” The performers pour their hearts into their craft with such earnestness that it’s impossible not to root for them. “Each dancer has a unique personality, so with 13 dancers, there is definitely something for everyone. They all have captivating stories, with elements of either their life or dance style that will resonate with audiences from all walks of life. They open up to us and speak so candidly that they are easy to relate to. And the performances are simply beautiful, so it is quite easy to be proud of these talented people from our communities.”
Pulse aims to be a fun and enriching educational experience for audiences. “We hope that they learn, discover and appreciate not only the art form, but also these brilliant dancers and what makes them who they are as Indigenous dancers. I think that they will be moved by the different performances that we’ve managed to capture and that they will be truly in awe of what they see.” Art and movement often has the power to teach us in a way that words cannot. Pulse premieres on APTN on October 7th.