Lara Kramer

Award-winning choreographer Lara Kramer brings a triptych of inspirational dance works to Bruford at Summerhall as part of the Indigenous Contemporary Scene festival season. We spoke to Lara recently about each of these exciting contemporary works and found out what motivated her to create them.

Native Girl Syndrome

Native Girl Syndrome was inspired by my grandmother’s life, what had been pieced together of her experience. She had migrated from a remote First Nations community to an urban setting following her years attending Pelican Falls Indian Residential School. On a personal level the work was my attempt at processing what had happened to her, knowing that my grandmother had lived through cultural genocide. That her struggle with addiction was a means of surviving devastating trauma, surviving acts of extermination by our Federal Government.”

“In previous years (2007 + 2008) researching about the Indian Residential Schools, I came across the term ‘Native Girl Syndrome’. A nun was describing how a particular student was going to fall victim to ‘Native Girl Syndrome’. “She will become an addict, lose her children to the system, be homeless, be in abusive relationships…”. This term stuck with me for a few years before I began the process of creating this work.”

Native Girl Syndrome is a work that is deliberately confronting. The use of duration demands the viewer to reflect at what is habitually ignored, that the invisible is colonial. There is no option to look the other way at the ongoing struggles of the two female performers, who show the effects of addiction and colonial destruction. The work exposes the trauma of colonialism that lives inside urban mainstream culture and the loss of homeland/bloodland, traditional territory and the extraction of mother and child relations.”

The Time Will Be Different

“This Time Will be Different is a collaborative work that was conceived in conversation with Emilie Monnet and myself. Many of our concerns and feelings of defeat with the finalization of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2017), and the previous unanswered recommendations by the Canadian Government from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (1991-16) after the Oka Crisis and placing ourselves outside of the glossy term of ‘Reconciliation’ we found our centre of this project. We understood the pattern of damage control with the use of inquiries by the Canadian Government, the vehicle of government lead voices of inquiries and how it silences Indigenous voices and their movement towards justice. ‘Reconciliation’ can ultimately feel like it serves a select few voices. It adds to the void or feeling of not being a part of the betterment of treatment towards Indigenous people and their territory. When you are outside of the national movement towards Reconciliation, how can you hope that it serves you? It can feel like a farce, a small supplement to a wound that needs immediate and on-going attention.”

This Time Will be Different is a stance we take at telling our story, where we position ourselves in the narrative of commissions and inquiries. It is a project that involves community, family from three generations, that holds a respect to past and future generations that are all apart of the expression of the stories that derive from Indian Residential School experience.”

Miijin Ki [Eating Land]

Miijin Ki is a work in development that is set as a performance installation. It is rooted in love, pleasure, vitality. In this work I wanted to focus on sharing the dignity and joy of Indigenous bodies and their relation to land. Miijin Ki is interpreted as Eating Land. The title was pulled from a short piece of my writing that explores the juxtaposition of how land is used, how we connect with it.” 

“In Miijin Ki we witness four bodies navigating colonial values of ownership of land, relationship to materials and decay as well as strong bodies connected to the essence in nature. They are dreaming, imagining and birthing new life. Showing joy, love and strength. Miigin Ki shares the vibrancy of our bodies, our spirit. And the beauty of our being. It shifts and reworks, what is extracted, digested and transformed on territory.”


Native Girl Syndrome runs 2-4,7-11 Aug, 4.20pm – book tickets
This Time It Will Be Different runs 13-18 Aug, 4pm – book tickets
Miijin Ki runs 20-24 Aug, 4pm – book tickets