New Research in Dance - COLLECTIVE ENDURANCE. Julie Burelle. Endurance/Enduring Performance: First Nations Women, Diplomacy, and Sovereign Re-mappings

Department of Dance
New Research in Dance Studies: In-Tension-Ally-Ties
Coordinated by Jacqueline Shea Murphy   
Magnolia Yang Sao Yia, Assistant Coordinator


Speaker: Julie Burelle
Assistant Professor, Theater and Dance Department, UC San Diego
Endurance/Enduring Performance:
First Nations Women, Diplomacy, and Sovereign Re-mappings

Discussant: Jacqueline Shea Murphy
Associate Professor, Dance Department, UC Riverside

October 3, 2018
Wednesday, 4:10-6:00 pm
Dance Studio Theatre, ATHD 102 (Athletics and Dance Building)
Free and open to the campus

The Indian Act lies at the center of the interventions documented in chapter four entitled “Endurance/ Enduring Performance: First Nations Women, Diplomacy, and Sovereign Re-mappings,” which provokes an encounter between two seemingly unrelated events/performances. The first, Nadia Myre’s monumental visual art piece Indian Act(1999-2002), uses a traditionally feminine beading technique to bead over the entire text of Canada’s Indian Act a law that intimately rules and organizes First Nations in Canada. In what amounts to a veritable feat of endurance, Myre and a group of volunteers rewrote the Indian Act, denaturalizing it with more than 80 000 red and white beads over the course of three years. The result is a striking visual piece part illegible document, part topographical map of all that was hidden by the law’s potent words. Myre’s piece finds a parallel in the 2010 Marche Amun, a protest march led by a group of Innu women to demand an end to the gendered discrimination contained in the Indian Act. Collectively and over the course of walking the 500kms that separate the Huron Wendat reserve of Wendake from Ottawa, the women challenged the current lines of exclusion created and naturalized by the Indian Act and remapped spaces in which discussions about decolonization could emerge.

The Indian Act was created with the specific goal of bringing the so-called “Indian problem” to an end by forcibly assimilating Indigenous peoples.  In this chapter, I examine Myre’s Indian Act and La Marche Amun as performances that consciously embody and perform the structural position of endurance into which settler colonialism has forced Indigenous peoples, particularly Indigenous women. Together these two performance pieces meditate on what it means to endure against a settler-colonial project whose intended trajectory culminates with the end of Indigenous endurance. I employ endurance here to describe performances that stage or foreground the testing of a performer’s physical, emotional, and/or spiritual resources, that insist on and render visible the performer’s presence under trying circumstances. Here, endurance performance captures a different project from those embodied in the 1960s and 1970s by artists like Chris Burden or Tehching Hsieh, who voluntarily staged their bodies’ struggle under self-imposed conditions like hunger, immobility, or isolation. I contend that, in deploying and staging Indigenous women’s endurance as a performative language, La Marche Amun and Nadia Myre’s beading project seize the settler-colonial state’s grammar of extinction and erasure enacted by the Indian Act to perform its effects and mirror its mechanisms for a settler audience whose sense of self is articulated, as Taiaiake Alfred notes, on “a self-congratulatory version of Canadian history” in which Canada holds the part of a “benevolent peacemaker.”

Julie Burelle is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California San Diego where she is also affiliate faculty in the Department of Ethnic Studies. She is the author of Encounters on Contested Lands: Indigenous Performances of Sovereignty and Nationhood in Québec (Northwestern University Press, forthcoming) and has published in TheatreForum, TDR: The Drama Review, Theatre Annual, Dance Research Journal, and others. Burelle is also a dramaturg.

Jacqueline Shea Murphy is associate professor in the Dance department at UC Riverside, and author of "The People Have Never Stopped Dancing": Native American Modern Dance Histories, (University of Minnesota Press, 2007). In 2016, she guest edited a special issue of Dance Research Journal on “Indigenous Dance Today.” She has helped bring Indigenous dance studies into visibility to dance scholars through her publications, and by organizing numerous symposia and performance events including regular "Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside" gatherings. She is currently working on two writing projects: Choreographing Resurge-instances: Indigenous Dance Artists Re-Worlding; and an anthology of Critical Scholarship in Indigenous Dance, co-edited with Karyn Recollet and María Firmino-Castillo.

Presentations are followed by dialogue with audience, then reception on the patio.
INFORMATION: (951) 827-3245


Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 4:10pm to 6:00pm

Athletics & Dance Building, Dance Studio Theatre, ATHD 102
Athletics & Dance Building, Riverside, CA 92521

Event Type

Arts, Dance, Lectures & Presentations


Faculty & Staff, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students, Transfer Students


Free and open to the campus

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