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Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence

An evening length dance performance incorporating modern dance, hula, Hawaiian chant, and live music to examine home and belonging. After 3 years of pandemic related delays, the work premiered in April 2023 at On the Boards in Seattle, WA and is now available for touring.


Research for the work began with questions around what it means to be native in a time where this word is often politically charged. The piece explores ideas of nature versus nurture: how does what we inherit genetically influence who we become, and how much is shaped by our environment. Within all of these influences, where does instinct come from? Using the metaphor of lei making for the strands of our DNA, the work looks to weave together stories from varied identities as a way to build bridges that celebrate difference and respect unique individuality. 


With live music by electric cellist Wytold and Hawaiian chanter/percussionist Patrick Makuakane, scenic design by Brenda Mallory, projection design by Kelly Colburn, lighting by Peter Leibold and costuming by Marques Hanalei Marzan in collaboration with Christopher, the work creates a comprehensive picture of the multiplicity of identities we all navigate, and invite audiences to reflect on their perception of Native people, their own identities, and instinct.


Joining long-time company dancers Tiffanie Carson, Abby Farina, and Deontay Gray are new company members Jamison Curcio and long time friend and collaborator of CKM&A Matthew Cumbie.


Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The creation of Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence was made possible with residency support from National Choreography Center at the University of Akron, Bethany Arts Center, EMPAC (Emerging Media and Performing Arts Center, and Dance Place.

Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Maui Arts & Cultural Center and PA'I Foundation in partnership with Dance Place and NPN. For more information:

The creation of Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence is made possible with funding support from the Western Arts Alliance's Native Launchpad Program.

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