Q&A with Samantha Sutherland
June 15, 2023

Samantha Sutherland 1

Samantha Sutherland. Photo by Jeysa Caridad.

As part of Indigenous History Month, we shine a spotlight on contemporary dance artist, choreographer and teacher Samantha Sutherland who created a new work for the company last season for Sharing the Stage at Harbourfront Centre and has participated in the National Ballet’s CreativAction programme. She shares what her heritage means to her in this Q&A.

You have described your artistic approach as an effort “to keep what you value and love about classical training and use it to tell the Indigenous story.” Could you expand on that?

My dance training background is mainly ballet and contemporary dance.  As I began my choreographic career, I kept asking myself, “How can I identify as an Indigenous artist while using colonial/euro-centric forms to create?” I felt conflicted and unsure on how to find ways my training and Ktunaxa values could co-exist.

I have found that what works for me is to keep certain skills from my classical dance training that still resonate with me today, and leaving behind what doesn’t serve me anymore. I can then utilize these valuable skills in my choreographic process to tell my stories as a Ktunaxa person.  I love sharing what my experience has been with my Ktunaxa identity and what I have learned about the language, culture and history.

Samantha Sutherland 2

Samantha Sutherland on stage. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

What does Indigenous History Month mean to you?

Indigenous History Month for me is mainly a celebration. Yes, there is a painful history with Indigenous peoples in Canada that is ongoing but I believe in making time for celebration as well. There are many amazing achievements and hurdles our ancestors, Elders and families have overcome. We deserve to be congratulated for our resilience. There is still work to be done but look how far we have come!

In what ways have you been involved with The National Ballet of Canada in your career? What is the appeal of CreativAction specifically?

I had the pleasure of taking part in an Open Space residency led by CreativAction last year. My time in the studio was spent getting my solo work kaqwiⱡȼi started for the Paprika Festival which then went on to be performed at Sharing the Stage last August. I am grateful to have taken part in such an amazing show and for the support I received from the National Ballet in the creation of my work. I will be back in another Open Space residency this month and I am very much looking forward to having more time and space to create.

Finding rehearsal space is difficult, let alone subsidized space! The Open Space programme helps fill the needs of the Toronto dance community.

Learn More About Samantha Sutherland

Learn More About CreativAction and Open Space


Email Newsletter

Be the first to know when casting is announced by signing up for Ballet News.

Sign Up Today

Pointe Shoe Fund