We Will Always Be Here

Monday, October 11, 2021, 7 - 8:30pm

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Celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day with Grammy Award–winning composer, 2021 Helen Merrill award-winning playwright, librettist, interdisciplinary artist, actor, choreographer, eagle dancer, and hoop dancer Ty Defoe (Giizhig). Ty, who is from the Oneida and Ojibwe Nations, interweaves artistic projects with social justice, indigeneity, trans rights, Indigi-Queering, and environmentalism. He will be joined by multiple other artists including Grammy-nominated cellist/vocalist/composer and world music artist Dawn Avery, vocalist, actress, percussionist, and choreographer Joan Henry, actor Jake Hart, Eagle Project theater company founder Opalanietet, and actor Tanis Parenteau, among others.

Registration is required for this free public program. Attendees must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask indoors.

Ty Defoe's many awards, residencies, and fellowships include TransLab Fellow, Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence, Jonathan Larson Award, Cordillera International Film Festival Finalist, 2021 Cultural Capital Fellow, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center finalist, and the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop. His songs have been featured at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, Ars Nova, 54 Below, The Met, and The Kennedy Center. Ty’s theatrical work has been presented at Guthrie Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Yale Institute of Musical Theater, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Native Voices at the Autry, The New Victory Theater, and more. Ty's works include TransWorld, Red Pine, The Way They Lived, Ajijaak on Turtle Island, and more. Ty is a core member of All My Relations Collective, recent piece: GIZHIBAA GIIZHIG | Revolving Sky.

Dawn Avery

Equally comfortable in a longhouse and Lincoln Center, Grammy- nominated cellist/vocalist/composer and world music artist, Dawn Avery, shares contemporary soundscapes from spiritual, pop, and classical elements that reflect a deep devotion to sacred traditions, including her own Mohawk heritage. She has had the privilege of working with musical luminaries Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, John Cale, R. Carlos Nakai, Phillip Glass, and Grover Washington, Jr. Avery has collected awards from the American Dance Festival at Duke University, Smithsonian, and the Ford Foundation’s Indigenous Knowledge, Expressive Culture grant program of the American Composers Forum, and Meet the Composer. As a result of that grant, she is releasing the works of six Indigenous contemporary composers (North American Indian Cello Project BandCamp, November 5). Avery is dedicated to the fostering of relational collaborations with audience, presenters, and performers that are devoted to positive change. Avery has worked with both Ty Defoe and Kate Freer and several people on today’s program, on the Indigenous theatre piece Ajijaak on Turtle Island produced by Heather Henson (of the Jim Henson legacy). Her most recent projects include two short operas, Trials and Tears with librettist Ty Defoe and Sacajawea: Woman of Many Names for Fargo-Moorhead Opera and Decameron Opera Coalition.

Jake Hart

Jake Hart (Chicano/ Cherokee descent) works across the country: onstage, onscreen, and in sound studios. He voices everything from cartoons and video games to national commercials. Currently, he is a professional actor, voice actor, SAG-AFTRA Native Americans Committee member, the Indigenous Development Director of Nevada’s Cordillera International Film Festival, and Red Eagle Soaring board member.

Joan Henry

A voice heard by 20.7 million people as an Indigenous Ambassador to Macy’s 2020 Thanksgivings Day Parade, Joan Henry (Tsalagi/Nde’/Arawaka) ‘sang up the spirits' for artist Jeffrey Gibson’s takeover of Times Square’s Midnight Moment two days before COVID shut Broadway down. Her favorite roles have included Lady Macbeth and Grandma Aki from Heather Henson and Ty Defoe’s spectacular Ajijaak On Turtle Island as well as past work with Camelot with Richard Harris and West Side Story 30th Anniversary Company. Henry is also a composer, performer, artist, educator, and water protector. Her concert appearances include the International Festival of the Voice, Clearwater & New York Music Festivals, and with Pete Seeger, Kenny Burrell, and Waylon Jennings. Her recordings include albums with iconic drummer Jack DeJohnette, solo CDs and the debut album of her jazz sextet with indigenous wings – SPIRITED. Henry is also an adjunct instructor of Native American Studies at Vassar College; Inaugural Faculty, Four Worlds indigenous University (FWIU); and Coordinator/Facilitator, FWII global Women’s Talking Circle. She is committed to using her visibility to restore cultural awareness, spirit in all things, and a global sense of interconnectedness NOW, and for the coming generations.

Ryan Opalanietet Pierce (Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape)

Ryan Victor Pierce or "Opalanietet" is a member of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribal nation of New Jersey.  Upon graduating from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Opalanietet has performed in workshops and productions at such renown New York theatrical institutions as New Dramatists, LaMaMa E.T.C. and New York City Opera at Lincoln Center.  In November of 2020, Opalanietet made history by giving the first-ever Lenape Land Acknowledgement at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. In 2012, Opalanietet founded Eagle Project, a theater company dedicated to exploring the American identity through the performing arts and our Native American heritage.  Through his leadership, Eagle Project has collaborated with and performed at the Public Theater, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and Ashtar Theater in Palestine.  In April of 2020, Eagle Project collaborated with the American Indian Community House of New York City and First Nations Theatre Guild to create Native Theatre Thursdays, a virtual reading series of new Native work. Opalanietet is currently studying for his doctorate in Theatre & Performances Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center.

Tanis Parenteau

Tanis Parenteau is an actor/producer and member of the Métis Nation of Alberta (Cree). Her work focuses on uplifting contemporary Native stories and smashing tired, harmful Native stereotypes. She is the Tribal Liaison at AlterTheater and is on the SAG-AFTRA National Native Americans Committee. Her TV credits include recurring/guest star roles on Billions opposite Paul Giamatti, FBI: Most Wanted opposite Julian McMahon, Designated Survivor opposite Keifer Sutherland, and House of Cards opposite Michael Kelly. Upcoming, Tanis will appear in Gossip Girl, season two of Tribal, and a supporting role in the soon-to-be-released Telefilm funded feature film Rehab opposite Tahmoh Penikett and Jennifer Podemski. She has also performed at The Public Theater), Signature Theater), La Mama, and more. Tanis also works in casting as an assistant/consultant and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from The New School for Drama.

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