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New Blood receives standing ovation at Manluk Theatre

New Blood took the stage at Manluk Theatre Sept. 11, 2021.
New Blood showed at the Manluk Theatre Sept. 11, 2021. (Shaela Dansereau/BLACK PRESS NEWS MEDIA)

‘New Blood’ took the stage at Manluk Theatre in Wetaskiwin on Sept. 11, 2021, to tell a story of trauma and reconciliation through dance and music.

Featuring Blackfoot music and contemporary music by Peter Gabriel, the show came to life with its incorporation of dance and storytelling.

Starring a young woman from Strathmore in the lead role, New Blood was inspired by the life of Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman and his experience as a child in residential school and how he reclaimed his identity and way of life.

This year was the 10th cast of students performing the show and the execution was on point.

There was a haunting quality that encompassed the show, which contrasted starkly — yet beautifully with the bold visuals of the Indigenous artwork projected across the stage and the performers.

The way the dancers twisted and lilted on stage was mesmerizing, as if you were getting sucked into the enchantment of mother nature- a goal of theirs as ‘spirit dancers.’ This in the combination with the flow of the aerial silks being used to create the teepee and tear down and create again was an incredibly creative way of showing the damage that residential schools had to Indigenous communities and their spirit.

As the animals were slaughtered and their pelts taken for the fur trade — all communicated through dance, the sense of panic was palpable from the lead, aided by the powerful acoustics of the talented singers side stage.

The male lead playing the priest was incredibly eerie. Wearing a plastic white mask, he would glide across the stage like a faceless ghost in the shadows to steal the Indigenous children in the night. His daunting nature on stage subtle, yet terrifying.

When the spirit dancers continued to try to break the children free of the mental and physical prison that was the residential school, it was a vivid representation of the Creator trying to call the children home.

At the end of the performance audience members gave a standing ovation, and in discussions with cast and crew following lights up, many spoke to the crowd saying how the show brought them as an audience member to tears.

Without dialogue New Blood still managed to tell an entire story of rising from the ashes; highly recommend catching the next performance of this Alberta-created show.