- To explore the intersection of Indigenous and new dance performance, to create and present theatrical productions, and to educate and engage artists, audiences and diverse communities through Indigenous performing arts encompassing disciplines of music, storytelling, theatre and design.
- Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT) is one of Canada’s leading contemporary dance companies, recognized for its seamless fusing of Indigenous and contemporary dance into a compelling signature choreographic vision. Internationally renowned for artistic excellence, innovation and collaboration, KDT electrifies audiences from Canada and around the globe.
- KDT was founded by Artistic Director Santee Smith, a leading Canadian choreographer “her highly charged, traditional/contemporary/ballet fusion eats up the stage” (Globe and Mail). Known for her meaningful, athletic and earth-bound movement language her work is visually stunning, deeply symbolic, spiritually stirring and entertaining. “My work is a response and a reflection of the world in which I live. Through dance I am able to express my dreams, visions and stories, both historical and contemporary.” Santee Smith
- Kaha:wi (Ga-HA-Wee) means “to carry” in the Mohawk language and is a traditional name for Smith’s family. KDT carries culture through dance, theatre, music and design. Our vision is to be a dynamic force in contemporary dance in Canada, a centre for creativity, innovation, artistry and Aboriginal expression that reflects, honours and celebrates culture.
- Operating as an artist-run sole proprietorship since 2001, KDT officially incorporated into a not-for-profit organization in June 2005 and received charitable status in 2006. KDT is located on Six Nations Reserve and Toronto housed at the historical Distillery District.
- Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Artistic Season sees annual performances at Ontario and Torontos’ Harbourfront Centre; national and international touring; one-of-a-kind dance training programs such as Aboriginal Dance Training (ADT) and our March Break Dance Camp for youth. KDT has been thrilling mature, family and young audiences with its original and powerful productions. Critical acclaimed young audience work, A Story Before Time has reached thousands of students across Canada and the USA. Since inception, KDT’s repertoire includes Productions recognized as significant contributions to dance in Canada.
- Under Smith’s direction, the company cultivates exciting collaborations with international artists including Susuriwka – willow bridge the Ainu rock star OKI (Japan), Juno awarding-winning Derek Miller, Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagaq, among others.
- Keenly interested in engaging audiences, KDT hosts our: “Behind the Curtain” Series, an open studio showcase and gateway into our creative process; “Artist Salon” Series, informal dialogue with guest artists and community dance workshops.
- KDT was nominated for two Dora Mavor Moore Awards in 2014 for NeoIndigenA as Santee Smith was nominated for Outstanding Female Performance. Cris Derksen along with Jesse Zubot, Adrian Harjo (featuring Tanya Tagaq, Michael Red, Nelson Tagoona) were nominated for “Outstanding Sound Design/Composition”. In 2012, KDT’s TransMigration was nominated for Outstanding Production in the Dance Division and Outstanding Sound Design/Composition in the Dance Division in 2012. The company was also nominated for two Dora Mavor Moore Awards for A Story Before Time for Outstanding Production in the Dance Division and Outstanding Performance (Ensemble) in the Dance Division in 2008. KDT was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Performing Arts Series in 2008 for Here On Earth as a part of the dance series “Dancing with Spirit”. KDT received the National Museum of the American Indian Expressive Arts Award for TransMigration in 2009.