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ᏅᏫᏓᏱ ᏓᏆᏙ, ᏥᎩᏚᏩ. I am Nvwidayi, I am Maura, I am an Indigenous woman (non-enrolled Cherokee and Mattamuskeet), I am a dancer, I am a choreographer. I dance dances, choreograph dances and collaborate with other Indigenous artists to make new multi-media creations. I dance my own work, I dance for and with others, choreograph on others, teach master classes, create projects in partnership with community members and share ideas and insight through speaking engagements and writing.
As a human and as a professional performing artist, my job is to uplift the teachings of my ancestors through movement and action. My responsibility is to spread happiness and wellness through dance and story. I see and remember and dance through the world in a web of interconnected stories. My duty is to make sure I never stop telling stories – family stories, tribal stories, new stories, silly stories, hilarious stories, sad stories, sensual stories, sacred stories, foolish stories, scary stories, earth stories, erotic stories, non-human stories, stories buried under shame, stories systematically hidden by colonialism.
These words of “job”, “responsibility” and “duty” may seem heavy, but they are my life’s work and to be danced with joy. With the energy that comes from the sun and the earth and the fire and the wind, I live and dance and love along with all of you.
Maura García (non-enrolled Cherokee/Mattamuskeet) is a Dancer Choreographer who creates contemporary Indigenous performance.
Her work is powered by a desire to perpetuate ancestral knowledge, actively respect the living earth and bring happiness to people. Maura’s artistic creations reflect the power of stories to form and change our realities. Through narrative-driven choreography and beat-embracing movement she seeks to form connections, empower Indigenous cultural values and explore the rhythms of the natural world.
Both as a soloist and with ensembles, she has performed throughout North America, notably at:
- La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (NY, USA)
- The Dance Centre (BC, Canada)
- New York Theater Workshop (NY, USA)
- Woodland Cultural Centre (ON, Canada)
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (AR, USA), the ArtsCenter (NC), Atlas Performing Arts Center (DC), Dance Place (DC), Disney World (FL), Embassy of Senegal (DC), Kansas City Repertory Theater (MO), Lawrence Arts Center (KS), Links Hall (IL), Rhythmically Speaking Festival (MN), Talking Stick Festival (BC, Canada), Unedited Series (SC), University of Arizona, University of South Carolina, Walker Arts Center (MN) and the Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival (ON, Canada).
In addition to dance for the stage, Maura choreographs for the outdoors and in response to specific places. She is particularly interested in creating stunning performance that is accessible, sustainable and has a low carbon foot print. Her first commission was a performance for the Charleston Library Society (SC) incorporating interviews with library patrons, local Indigenous Natchez creation stories and audience participation.
In 2015, the Ackland Art Museum (NC) commissioned her to make a performance in collaboration with sound artist Mark Gabriel Little in response to their featured exhibition.
The following year, the inaugural event for Kansas City’s “Art in the Loop” outdoor performance series was a dance Maura created in collaboration with park passersby and city employees.
In 2019, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presented a locally-specific remount of her work that took place in 3 different outdoor sites in northwest Arkansas.
As a fellow in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s 2016 Artist Leadership Program, she worked with members of the Kansas City Indian Center and local Indigenous artists to realize an 8-month long arts project exploring ancient and contemporary urban Indian identity.
Maura is dedicated to collaborating within Indigenous communities to celebrate group narratives through dance and other art forms. To date she has partnered with numerous organizations to carry out workshops and long-term projects:
- Haskell Indian Nations University (KS, USA)
- Warm Springs Reservation (various agencies)
- Onkwehón:we Original People’s Festival (ON, Canada)
American Indian Mothers (NC), First Nations Graduate Association (NC), First Nations Student Association at the University of Kansas, Ikidowin Peer Educators and Acting Ensemble (MN), Kansas City Cherokee Community (KS/MO), Native Youth Inaugural Event (DC) and Two Rivers Gallery (MN).
Maura is sought out for her community engagement and cultural advocacy work. She has facilitated master classes and residencies in the public schools, for national professional conferences, trauma support groups and universities.
Through activist essays and panel speaking she has addressed issues from sustainability in the arts to the cultural rights of Native American students. Maura has completed both the Dismantling Racism Works and artEquity Facilitator Training programs.
She has been the recipient of numerous honors:
- Western Arts Alliance Native Launchpad Artist (national, USA)
- Dance/USA Institute for Leadership Training program (national, USA)
- Full Circle First Nations Performance development grant (BC, Canada)
- guest artist studio award from the University of North Carolina’s Department of Dramatic Art (NC, USA)
Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Projects Studio Residency Award (MO), Heads in the Clouds development program (AB, Canada), Jewish Community Center’s Community Arts Fellowship Grant (KS) and the Rocket Grant Project Award (KS/MO).
Maura has served as an adjudicator for dance festivals and grants including the Modern Atlanta Dance Festival, the NEA’s Art Works grant and the MAP Fund.
Maura currently resides on A-ma-ye-(t)li, also known as turtle island. She believes that every interaction with a living being is an opportunity to positively affect the world. As she travels the world, she continues to seek out opportunities that will allow her to dance, connect and create with others.
BODY LIBERATION STATEMENT
I am on a journey of liberation and decolonization. I hope as many of us as possible can make this journey and I will help in whatever way my gifts allow. I am reclaiming my body and spirit in all wholeness from patriarchal, colonial-style “humbleness – the repressed puritan rhetoric which is actually shame. Shame of dance, of free movement, of sex, relaxation, nakedness, masturbation, touching, flesh and basically all things that are free, accessible and built into our bodies on purpose as gifts from spirit. Along with our lives, nations, languages, lifeways and identities, the system has also attempted to annihilate our pleasure and the freedom of our bodies. As an Indigenous woman and as a professional dancer, I am reclaiming my sexual power and my sensual body. I am reclaiming the expression of what was always ours.