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N(8)tive Enough 

N(8)tive Enough is a dance-theatre piece built from the personal stories of a Hapa-Hawaiian reflecting on what it means to be Native, while highlighting the endless expectations, misperceptions, misrepresentations, and misinterpretations of Native identity.

In the current politically charged cultural climate around native identity, this is the moment for N(8)tive Enough to materialize. Dancemaker Christopher K. Morgan regularly finds himself questioning “Am I Native enough?” while being invited to provide a Native perspective as an artist and leader at national conferences, panels, and discussions. Christopher proudly embraces his identity and advocacy work, but is only "Native enough" to speak for himself. In venues where abstraction and whiteness are often prioritized, Christopher makes work that is legible and relatable to viewers, heightening the visibility of Hawaiians, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA2S folx while synthesizing modern dance, storytelling, interdisciplinary collaboration, and hula to create singular performances.  N(8)tive Enough will interrogate this difficult balancing act in front of the Native and artistic communities engaged in these complexities. 


Reflecting on the direction for the work and the script, Christopher writes:


“In the 1980s, I frequently referred to the TV show "Eight is Enough" to explain my family structure. Though we had little in common with the white family on the show, my brothers, sisters and I had identical ages and genders as the children in "Eight is Enough”. This coincidence made me feel part of the dominant culture. Around the same time, our Hawaiian cousins would visit us in California, teasing us for being haole (Hawaiian for white). When hurled from my cousins’ mouths, haole was surprisingly hurtful. I began to understand I was not part of the dominant culture. Nor was I very Hawaiian.


As a free-lance dancer in predominantly white practices and spaces in the late 1990s and early 2000s, my ethnically ambiguous appearance helped me win jobs as directors worked to diversify casting. I became everybody’s ethnic; Latino, Filipino, Mexican, Asian, Egyptian, half-black/half-white, or my personal favorite – when I was handed a loincloth and faux Lakota war bonnet to portray the American-Indian from The Village People. A decade of assumptions and having my identity erased, while I was rewarded for bringing diversity to the stage.


Dominant culture narratives, rejection from my own people, multicultural casting – all precipitated identity questions; Am I Native enough for the non-native eye? Am I Native enough for my own people? Am I Native enough for me? Using dance, storytelling, an original score, and projected pop culture imagery, N(8)tive Enough will be an evening-length solo performance addressing these questions with equal parts anger, frustration, sadness, and humor.”


N(8)tive Enough will be the final installment in a trilogy that has afforded Christopher the unique opportunity to share contemporary native dance with non-native and native audiences in venues across the United States. His 2016 work Pōhaku, directly incorporating hula and Hawaiian identity in the work, resulted in greater visibility of contemporary Native dance within the dominant culture. A social and civic impact is made in his work by strategically sharing Hawaiian cultural practices with non-native communities (stone gathering in Pōhaku, lei making in Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence). His work provokes questions and provides space for authentic native viewpoints and identities to be heard and witnessed. This will continue and deepen with N(8)tive Enough.


Relationships with composers, musicians, lighting designers, projection designers, visual artists, costume designers, technicians, and Native Hawaiian culture bearers all inform Christopher’s work. Recent projects have seen an evolution in the depth of collaboration with artists throughout the creative process. Christopher wants to continue this evolution and be exposed to other artists and thinkers who could further challenge his creative practice. To this end, development residencies that allow for deep and meaningful exchanges between the collaborators that horizontalize the creative process, are of the utmost importance.

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