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Bringing messages to the universe: New work by Dancing Earth a ‘ritual’ responding to violence of resource extraction

It’s been a hectic two weeks for Rulan Tangen.

Days have been long due to hours of practice.

But it’s for the good of the performance.

Dancing Earth will present a preview of the new performance piece, “Between Underground + Skyworld or BTW US,” in Santa Fe. (Courtesy of Dancing Earth)

“I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to bring messages to the universe and showcase the power of media,” Tangen says. “That’s the real gift.”

Tangen is the founder of Dancing Earth, the Santa Fe-based dance company that brings world-class contemporary Indigenous dancers together in telling stories.

The company will preview its latest piece, “Between Underground + Skyworld or BTW US,” tonight at the James A. Little Theater in Santa Fe.

Tangen describes the new production as a “performance ritual” in response to the violence of natural resource extraction.

The critical state of the environment globally acts as the proverbial fuel for the intense bodily response to re-imagine a futurism rooted in Indigenous-led sustainability.

She says that, while this showcase is a work-in-progress rendition, the overarching intentions of the performance are aptly addressed with the rich texture of sets and imaginative costuming that uses salvaged materials.

“Previewing a new production and sharing it with our community is special,” Tangen says. “You want to have your finger on the pulse of the people and the land here. We have (artist) Roxanne Swentzell, who is going to let this work be sanctioned. She represents a matriarch and an incredible artist. She’s been doing a lot with pueblo food and our work has been in parallel. It has to do with social community and health. She was in Washington, D.C., in April and we were at the Kennedy Center, and seeing our work get national recognition.”

After the performance in Santa Fe, Tangen says the performance piece will travel the country.

In the works are performances in San Francisco, Phoenix, the Four Corners area and Seminole territory in Florida.

“Any time we go to a new area, there will be an adaptation of the work,” she says. “We’re going to Florida in a few years’ time and I’m starting those conversations so people will have a vested interest.”