This parking lot is the current location of Amos Pewter, New Scotland Clothing and I Heart Bikes, and events like The Atlantic Jazz Festival. Someday it will be the home of the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The design of the new gallery was inspired by the headdress traditionally worn by Mi'kmaw women, a symbol unique to Mi'kmaw culture. Storm surge and sea level rise due to climate change factored into the design; a reality the Halifax waterfront will have to contend with over the next 50 years.
Returning to the Circle
Breaking Circus Collective presents Returning to the Circle, a symbolic circus arts performance reminding us of the need for unity and renewal as we look to the future.
Dawn Shepherd and Aiyana Graham perform a duo act on circular aerial circus apparatuses, addressing the future of environmental activism, embracing African and Indigenous cultures, specifically the need to return to the circle. The circular worldview emphasizes unity, the cycle of renewal that links our past, present and futures and the connection between physical and spiritual worlds. Returning to the circle means embracing ancient ways of knowing, as when we did not take more than we needed and respected and lived in harmony with Mother Earth. The buffalo and the water spirit help to express ideas of what the future of environmental activism holds.
Choreography and Performance: Dawn Shepherd and Aiyana Graham Projection Design: Nick Iwaskow Soundscape: Ryan Gray
Dawn Shepherd is an African Nova Scotian contemporary circus artist, director, trainer and rigger who started out in musical theatre and vocal performance before pursuing a career in circus arts. Dawn received her circus education through the National Circus School of Montreal (NCS), where she completed her Circus Instructor & Trainer Diplomas and then worked as a circus educator from 2009-2013. While working at NCS, Dawn had an opportunity to spend three consecutive years on a summer circus tour (Le Fabuleux Cirque de JC), during which she developed an interest in collective creation and circus directing. By 2014, she had moved home to Nova Scotia to venture into the world of circus directing, starting small and producing her own shows. Fortunately, Dawn was not alone in this venture. Her long-time partner, musician⁄ composer Ryan Gray, shared her vision and they began to build shows together. Since 2014, Dawn and Ryan have performed in and produced numerous feature-length contemporary circus shows in Halifax, NS (e.g. TU Processed, Nascent, Rogue, Breaking Valentines) and continue to create new works and collaborate on independent, local, national and international circus, dance, music and visual arts projects.
Aiyana Graham is an emerging professional contemporary circus artist. She has always felt natural expressing herself through movement art and has pursued an active lifestyle since childhood. Circus did not find Aiyana until she moved to Halifax in 2012, when she happened upon her first aerial arts class, only to find that she could fly. Since then, circus arts have been her calling. She has leapt into the artform with both feet and hands and hasn’t looked back... except when backbending, of course. A versatile artist, Aiyana has had the opportunity to perform with multiple troupes and collaborators, both corporate and contemporary. She has performed at many events in collaboration with Breaking Circus, Atlantic Cirque, Halifax Circus, Studio In Essence, and Serpentine Studios. Perhaps most excitingly, Aiyana has also had the opportunity to work with Dawn Shepherd and Ryan Gray on their past four contemporary circus productions. She has been a member of their contemporary troupe, Breaking Circus, since its inception in 2018. As she continues to grow, Aiyana looks forward to sharing her unique perspective as a Cree woman through her art.
What does the next 50 years of environmental activism look like? What is the future of our environmental movement?
As EAC celebrates 50 years of incredible activism, it is also a moment to reflect on where we need to go from here. It is a moment of celebration, and also humility: although the work of many dedicated people over five decades has produced some very real impacts for nature and communities, it has not been enough to stop the worsening climate crisis, redress environmental injustices, or save many ecosystems and species from harm. Our environmental movements still have a lot to learn about taking leadership from Indigenous communities, who currently protect over 80% of the world’s biodiversity, and from communities of colour, who are too often on the frontlines of environmental harm. To quote Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, “our racial inequality crisis is intertwined with our climate crisis. If we don’t work on both, we will succeed at neither.”
What would it look like to build an environmental movement that is led by those most impacted by environmental injustice? In this incredible moment of history, who are we being called to be now, to rise to the challenges of our time?
Having trouble viewing this video? View it directly here