Barbara Bickel

Bearing Bloodlines: Ancestral Invocations

Collaborative Ritual Performance with Tannis Hugill

2023 performance showing at the Dance Center, Vancouver BC, Canada

Performance Description

opaque blood carries
memory and spirit of
ancestors deep within.
What happens when we begin to face the shadowed truth of our colonial ancestry with care and compassion? Barbara Bickel and Tannis Hugill are two Caucasian elder women artists who are committed to bringing healing to the legacy of the unprocessed trauma their ancestors brought to North America.  Tragically, their ancestors’ worldview, distorted by trauma, contributed to the brutal treatment of the Indigenous peoples of this continent.  In this performance Bickel and Hugill answer the call to come to know and to reconcile with their European ancestral lineages.  Their ancestors were also Indigenous, brutally forced off their lands–with their beliefs and culture erased by conquering armies, again and again. Scarred by centuries of trauma, all these forebears knew was the fear-based belief ‘dominate or be dominated’.
How can we, the children of settler-immigrants to the Americas, create peace in the world if we carry unreconciled divisions in our own blood lines and our familial dead are not at peace within us?  If we do not face the traumas and resulting colonial, cultural and ecological supremacist legacy of our ancestors, we will be unable to embark on effective personal and collective ancestral healing and colonial reconciliation work.
In Bearing Bloodlines: Ancestral Invocations, we the performers, are witnessed by two large handmade puppets, each symbolizing an ancient, caring ancestral guide.  While we enter the realms of our ancestors through embodied trance, their stories are told.  Inviting compassion in this way, the restorative artworking process becomes a transformative, transpersonal, and healing experience for ourselves, our ancestors, and the audience. The performance offers a vulnerable teaching and invitational opening for those disconnected from their ancestors, and the original lands of their ancestors.  This teaching offers the possibility of harmonization and reconciliation between colonial settler descendants, this land, and the Indigenous peoples of this land. It offers a connection to the vibrant source of creation that unites all humans and non-humans across time and space.