We invited The Shoe Project mentors and coaches to respond to the following question: Why have you taken on this work? This is Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg’s answer.
I look forward to working with the women of The Shoe Project every year! The learning and inspiration we find in the rehearsal hall, or even on zoom, is profound. This learning goes both ways. I feel honoured to be part of the process of getting these important stories to the page and the stage, or the recording studio as was our process during COVID.
As I’m an artist, my first language is movement, then voice. But I do not separate the voice from the moving body. The stories these women have lived are contained within their bodies. Through the outstanding mentorship of writer Caroline Adderson, these stories find their way to the page. Then along with my coaching partner Alison Mathews, it is my job to guide these words back into the body and then onto the stage.
As a settler of Eastern European, Ashkenazi Jewish, and British ancestry, I find myself wondering about the stories of my grandmothers and great grandmothers that I do not know, that were never told. In so much of history, the women are a footnote as the wife/mother/sister of the male protagonist, often without more than a first name—if that. Throughout time, so many women’s stories have been lost to the privilege of the male perspective. The Shoe Project stops us all in our tracks to bear witness to the paths walked by these women, and thus our own ancestors.
Every year I am privileged to meet a new group of courageous, inspiring writers with stories that need to be told and need to be witnessed. I am proud to serve this work.
Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg, is an award-winning and innovative performer, choreographer, director, writer, and artistic director of Tara Cheyenne Performance. Working across disciplines in film, dance, theatre, and experimental performance, she is renowned as a trailblazer in interdisciplinary performance and as a mighty performer “who defies categorization on any level”. In addition to her own creations, Tara has collaborated with many theatre companies and artists, including Bard on the Beach, The Arts Club, Boca De Lupo, Ruby Slippers, The Firehall Arts Centre, Vertigo Theatre (Calgary), and Silvia Gribaudi (Italy). Tara lives on the unceded Coast Salish territories with her partner, composer Marc Stewart and their child Jasper.