Anita’s Eye on the Rodeo — The Cris Derksen Trio
The High Performance Rodeo keeps on giving us gems of performance to discover, like the Cris Derksen Trio. The group mesmerized a smallish, but enthusiastic audience at the Royal Canadian Legion #1 on Saturday night.
“I bet you’ve never heard a cello do this before,” Cris Derksen challenged the audience before plucking her instrument’s strings to produce a sound like an electric guitar.
Throughout the stellar performance the young Indigenous musician from the North Tall Cree Reserve in Slave Lake, Alberta, showed us the range of strange and wonderful sounds she coaxes from her cello. She liberally integrates electronic synthesizers as part of the performance. Her chops include classical training—including principal cellist with the UBC Symphony Orchestra—that she combines with traditional Aboriginal sensibility.
When she sang, it was a powerful and completely original sound. Her songs revolved around the political and the humanist. Her rapport with the audience was genuine, creating an intimate performance where we were encouraged to whoop and interact with the performers to show our appreciation.
To back her, percussionist Jesse Baird created a nuanced rhythmical foundation that throbbed with delicious Indigenous beats.
And to add even more depth to the already rich performance, master hoop dancer Nimkii Osawamick manipulated up to 22 hoops – stretching them into wings and lassos, rounding them into the globe and bending them to represent a horse that he rode in battle and to hunt. Wow.
The Cris Derksen Trio showed us contemporary Indigenous art at its finest. Look for this compelling performer where every you are.