PCT Presents Lakota Sioux Dance Theater In COKATA UPO! 3/8

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is proud to present Lakota Sioux Dance Theatre in Cokata Upo! (Come to the Center), a performance celebrating the culture of the Lakota people featuring traditional dance, extravagant costumes, and historic narrative, on Sunday, March 8, 2009, at 3 p.m. at the Byham Theater. Cohen & Grigsby is the season sponsor of the Trust Presents series.

Lakota Sioux Dance Theatre was founded in 1978 on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and today includes some of the most highly acclaimed performers of the Sioux Nation. The company began with support from traditional Lakota Indian community leaders, educators, powwow dancers, singers and storytellers. For the past three decades it has remained dedicated to allowing Indians and non-Indians alike to experience Lakota culture through live performance and educational outreach.

"They are carrying the message of the Lakota and Dakota people to the big cities of America. They are truly the best messengers we could ever ask to represent us" (Indian Country). The New York Times writes of Cokata Upo!, "It was more than a spectacle. This was at all times a serious tribute to an old, fascinating, once-endangered but now bravely surviving culture."

Today the Lakota Sioux Dance Theatre is headed by Henry Smith, a New-York based producer who is also artistic director of the Solaris Dance Theatre. Through his extensive travels, Smith has developed an intimate understanding of cultural dance, especially Asian, African, and American Indian traditions.

Lakota Sioux Dance Theatre has toured extensively throughout Greece and performs regularly in New York. The company was also featured in the opening celebration the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.

Cokata Upo!, meaning "Come to the Center," is comprised of three parts: "Birth of a Nation," "Death and Rebirth," and "All Nations as One." The sections focus in order on traditional Lakota creation stories, followed by a depiction of a turbulent present, and finally a hopeful outlook for a united, peaceful future.

The Lakota people seek a balance between the environment and all nations in the world, a theme that can be seen throughout the performance. Included are the Grass, Jingle Dress, Fancy, Traditional, Horse, Buffalo, Eagle, Round and Inter-Tribal Dances which are incorporated with tradition songs and storytelling and performed against a backdrop of vivid video imagery.

Choreography varies greatly, ranging from heavy stomping marches to intricate, crisscrossing footwork. The eleven dancers often interact to form circular patterns, a sacred Lakota symbol, all the while keeping a thriving rhythmic pulse to their movement. Performers wear brightly colored costumes, complete with feathers and face paint, and use props such a flags and staffs to create a work that is not only visually captivating but also rich with cultural significance.
Credits include Direction by Henry Smith; Songs by Jason King Bird, Hanobi Smith, and Gabe DesRosiers; Flute by Bryan Akipa; and video projections from the SOLARIS LAKOTA Project archives.

Tickets ($10, $20, $25) may be purchased at the Box Office at Theater Square (655 Penn Avenue), online at www.pgharts.org, or by calling (412) 456-6666. To purchase 10 or more tickets at special discounted rates, please call (412) 471-6930.


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