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Santee Smith

Photograph of Santee Smith

(1971- )
Dancer, Choreographer, Actor

Santee Smith

Well known for her work in her own production of Kaha:wi - She Carries, Santee Smith is a young talented Mohawk multi-disciplinary artist — a dancer, choreographer, actor, singer and designer of Iroquoian pottery.

Santee Smith was born in 1971 and raised on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario. She began her ballet training at the age of three, and was accepted into the National Ballet School in Toronto in 1982. There she performed in a number of classical and contemporary ballets and worked up to the advanced syllabus in the Cecchetti method. She completed an honours degree in Kinesiology from McMaster University in 1994.

After taking movement training in many studios, including the Hamilton Ballet School, Debbie Wilson Studios and Equity Showcase Theatre, she started to develop her own choreography. She choreographed and performed sequences for the National Film Board of Canada film The Gift, directed by Gary Farmer and presented at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. She also created dances for See and Hear the World, a documentary series broadcast on Bravo! in 1998.

Santee Smith has been the recipient of two Arts Education and Professional Development Awards from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation to further her dance studies. In 1997 she played the role of Pashik in The Baby Blues, presented by Native Earth Performing Arts. She was also involved in the development of BONES: Aboriginal Dance Opera at the Banff Centre.

Selected important performances include:

  • Second Aboriginal Dance Program, BONES, and No Home But The Heart at the Banff Centre, Alberta (1997-2000)
  • 20th annual Iroquois Festival at Iroquois Museum, Howes Cave (2001)
  • National Gathering on Aboriginal Artistic Expression, Ottawa (2002)
  • Jakart@2002: International Art, Cultural and Educational Festival, Indonesia (2002)
  • National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (2003).

In addition, she did a school tour of Tomson Highway's children's play, A Trickster Tale and co-hosted (with Evan Adams) "Buffalo Tracks", a television show that features talented Aboriginal people from various fields, on the Aboriginal People's Television Network. She also teaches workshops on Iroquoian social dance.

Santee Smith is also an accomplished potter, a talent she inherited from her parents, Steve and Leigh Smith. Many of her works, including Harmony Exists, Fish Pot, and Bee Bowl 2000, are on display at her family studio, Talking Earth Pottery.

Smith has recently won a K. M. Hunter Artist Award. This successful dancer has received numerous accolades in a career that belies her age. She has been, and will continue to be, a role model for young people, and particularly for Aboriginal Canadians.

Santee Smith, as artistic director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, is one of the first two recipients of the John Hobday Awards for outstanding achievement in arts management.


Andrews, Derek. — (mplpost) Aboriginal talent and broadcasting [online]. — Maplepost. — Toronto : Harbourfront Centre, Sep. 25, 2001, 15:57. — [Cited May 20, 2003]. — Access :

Bulizak, Alissa. — "Dance-drama sells out Hartwell Theater". — The virtual stylus [online]. — Sep. 27, 2000. — [Cited May 20, 2003]. — Access :

Burns, Garry. — "First Nations art combines political narrative, creativity". — The expositor (Brantford). — (June 3, 2000). — P. D5

Chinook Winds. — The second Aboriginal dance project : dancers biographies [online]. — [Cited May 20, 2003]. — Access :

Coulbourn, John. — "The Baby Blues simply entertains". — Toronto sun [online]. — (November 15, 1997). — [Cited May 20, 2003]. — Access :

Marion, Michael-Allan. — "Goodbye Tonto, hello Santee : new TV show strives to shatter 'stoic' native stereotypes : series being shot at Woodland Centre". — The expositor (Brantford). — (October 2, 2000). — P. A3

Mawhinney, Janice. — "Steve Smith : all fired up". — Toronto star [online]. — (June 23, 2002). — [Cited May 20, 2003]. — Access :

Santee Smith Dance Company
(in English only)

Santee Smith : Here on Earth to Dance

Sherrie Johnson and Santee Smith win first John Hobday Awards in Arts Management

Smith, Santee. — Aboriginal planet: making cultural connections [online]. — Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. — [Cited May 20, 2003]. — Also available in French. — Access :

Steel, Debora Lockyer. — "[Bones : an Aboriginal Dance Opera. Eric Harvie Theatre. Banff]". — Windspeaker. — Vol.19, no. 5 (S'01). — P.14

"Stellar talent line-up for 10th anniversary celebration of National Aboriginal Achievement Awards". — Canada newswire [online]. — (February 26, 2003). — [Cited May 20, 2003]. — Access :

Williams, Kenneth. — "Stage plays and holidays". — Saskatchewan sage [online]. — Dec. 1996. — [Cited May 20, 2003]. — Access :

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