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Synopsis: Chimera Dance Theatre has been collaborating with Indigenous artists, including the award-winning hoop dancer Arik Pipestem featured in ‘Bears Stars & Trees’ with guidance from Missanabe Cree Elder Shirley Horn, for about a decade.

These deep and inspiring relationships continue to define stunning new repertoire and educational offerings.

Rooted in the Seven Teachings of Respect, Honour, Wisdom, Humility, Truth, Bravery, and Love, This film tells a story about regaining the connection to each other, and to our natural world. The works fuse ballet, contemporary dance and traditional First Nations Hoop Dancing.

Athletic and edgy, these pieces were conceived by Donna Hilsinger, Executive Director of Fall Festival, guided by Cree Elder and Chancellor of Algoma University Shirley Horn, and choreographed by Malgorzata Nowacka-May, with artistic advisor Arik Pipestemfrom the Tsuu t’ina Nation. “Bears Stars and Trees” is a story that taps into the needs of our external world through a rare mix of both ancient and contemporary movement, concepts and conflicts set to a pulsating score performed by a stellar cast of both Canadian and First Nations dance artists.

Through connecting with the Seven Teachings and embracing their implicit wisdom, the work culminates in a positive, hopeful place of departure: our desire to create together.





Run Time

8 minutes


Arik Pipestem (Dancer (Hoop + Contemporary))
Elizabeth Gagnon (Dancer (Ballet + Contemporary))

Directed by

Malgorzata Nowacka-May

Written by

Arik Pipestem

Produced by

Nicholas Longstaff

Executive Producer

Malgorzata Nowacka-May

Edited by

Johnathan Lawley


Nick Dyer & Eric Cadesky


Vikas Vasu

Director's Statement

Chimera Dance Theatre Founding Artistic Director Malgorzata Nowacka-May has been named as the “most exciting” and “most original in Canada” (The Globe and Mail)

The primary driver for Mal is the creation of new dance work that deepens understanding and appreciation of art. She also, necessarily, pushes and deepen her own understanding in this process.

For the last decade her work with Indigenous artists and elders has aimed to decolonize the creation processes, making work in friendship and respect between Western and Indigenous ways.

Our vision as a company is to be recognized for our excellence, explosive athleticism, innovation, and authentic connection with audiences.

** A “chimera” is a mythical beast, a living being consisting of parts from different origins, and it encapsulated the idea of a mirage or a dream out of reach.

Director's Bio

Born into a family of artists in Warsaw, Poland, Nowacka-May studied visual arts with her parents and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto) which informs the strong visual aspect of her creations.

garnered accoladesincluding Top 10 performances of the year in The Globe and Mail, TorontoStar, NOW and FASHION. Her recognition also includes Best of InternationalDance Festival, the Paula Citron fFIDA Award, Toronto Emerging ArtistAward, The Globe and Mail’s Most Fearless Change of Direction Award, theDance Ontario Commission, and Ontario Arts Council’s Chalmers Award. Herwork was performed at the Canada Dance Festival (Ottawa), as part ofthe DanceWorks Mainstage series (Toronto), Dance Victoria (Victoria),Dancing on the Edge (Vancouver), Tangente (Montreal), Soon Young’sshowcase (New York) and Lila Lopez International Dance Festival (MexicoCity,Puebla), among others. Many of her contemporary ballets have been onthe Ballet Jorgen Canada’s touring repertoire since 2010.

Her training includes The School of Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre (New York), Bengt Jörgen’s School of Classical and Contemporary Dance (Toronto), and with Elizabeth Langley (Montreal).

Production Year


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