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Dancing, Healing

Olivie C. Davies

Julie Peters talks with Indigenous dance artist Olivia C. Davies about dance as a healing practice.

OLIVIA C. DAVIES is a contemporary Indigenous dancer and choreographer, the artistic director of O.Dela Arts, and one of my oldest friends. She and I were besties back in grade eight, when we used to sit in her kitchen and talk about boys. Back then, I didn’t know what a heavy load she was carrying. Since that time, dance has been a major tool for helping her to heal, grow, and evolve as an Indigenous woman.I asked her to tell me her story.Like many Indigenous Canadians and Native Americans, Olivia was cut off from her culture before birth. She is part European (Welsh, Finnish, Scottish, French) and part Indigenous (Anishinaabe), but her matrilineal great-grandparents and grandparents’ family self-identified as French-Canadian in order to avoid stigma and maintain the privilege of the perceived whiteness of their skin. In that family, Indigenous heritage was never discussed, let alone celebrated. At age eight, she was adopted by her godmother into a Franco-Ontarian family where her indigenous ties felt lost.Olivia spent many years with a lot of unprocessed, partly unconscious rage at having b …

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