Dancer/choreographer Rulan Tangen was thriving in an international career as a performer and dancer when in 2004 she survived a bout with Stage 4 cancer. Emerging from the harrowing experience, she shifted her goals and committed herself to getting a brand-new company, Dancing Earth Creations, off the ground, and 17 years later she remains its founding artistic director.
Dancing Earth is a mixed-heritage company that creates contemporary dance deeply rooted and researched in the communities in which it works. Through its workshops and dances, Dancing Earth explores and links themes of ecological and social health and wellness, particularly in Indigenous communities. Dancing Earth has led workshops in many Native reservations, and to date the company has included artists from 28 First Nations as co-creators.
In this interview with Pier Carlo Talenti, Rulan describes how she and her company navigated the devastating effects of the pandemic shutdown. Although their full year of touring was canceled in an instant, Rulan and her collaborators learned to become even more limber than they’d been before, finding evermore inventive ways to engage with their audiences and community partners.