Rosy Simas

Seneca, Heron Clan

AWARDEE:  Rosy Simas
NATIVE HERITAGE:  Seneca, Heron Clan
LOCATION:  Mni Sota Makoce
AWARD:  2021 SHIFT – Transformative Change and Indigenous Arts
DISCIPLINE:  Dance/Choreography
SOCIAL MEDIA:  Facebook, Instagram
Weisman Art Museum – BIO

Rosy Simas’ work weaves themes of personal and collective identity with family, sovereignty, equality, and healing. Simas creates dance work with a team of Native artists and artists of color, driven by movement-vocabularies developed through deep listening. Simas is the Artistic Director of Rosy Simas Danse and 331 Space, a creative studio for Native and BIPOC artists in Minneapolis, MN.

Simas’ dance works include Weave, Skin(s), and We Wait In The Darkness, which have toured Turtle Island and France. Currently on view (in 2021) are Simas’ installations, Blood Lines, at the Seneca Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, NY, and yödoishëndahgwa’geh (a place for rest), at All My Relations Arts in Minneapolis, MN. Simas is a recipient of fellowships from Dance/USA, McKnight Foundation for Choreography, Guggenheim Creative Arts, First Peoples Fund, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and a Joyce Award from The Joyce Foundation. Simas is the 2021 Inaugural Pamela Beatty Mitchell Artist in Residence in Contemporary Dance at Colorado College, and a returning Artist in Residence at the Target Studio for Creative Collaboration in the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota.

The culture, history, and identity stored in my body is the underpinning of all my artwork. Creating is a spiritual act for me, rooted in nature, formed through my link to my ancestors and the land of which we are made.

― Rosy Simas (Seneca, Heron Clan)


Simas’ SHIFT project, “she who lives on the road to war,” is an immersive installation and dance performance created by Rosy Simas in response to our global loss and the collective need to come together in peace and reconciliation. It is both a physical space for rest and refuge, and a performative work of Native futurities that imagines a world of relational balance with nature and with each other. “she who lives on the road to war” takes its title from the Haudenosaunee historical figure Jigonhsasee, who encouraged war between tribes before becoming an instrument of peace. Jigonhsasee’s wisdom and vision helped Hiawatha and the Peacemaker bring the Nations together as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Audiences are invited to gather, rest, grieve, condole with one another, and to consider how we can all work towards reconciliation during the dual pandemics of systematic racism and COVID-19. The project will have a dual premiere in Minneapolis in the heart of the Native community at All My Relations Arts (AMRA) and the Weisman Art Museum (WAM). The work will tour to Gibney in NYC, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, and other cities. Organizational partner, Weisman Art Museum, will commission the work, provide a two-month residency, and support community engagement activities.


Since its origin in 1934, Weisman Art Museum has been a teaching museum for the University of Minnesota. Today, education remains central to the museum’s mission to create art experiences that spark discovery, critical thinking, and transformation, linking the University and the community. The Target Studio for Creative Collaboration, where Rosy Simas’ new work will be housed, is a museum space and a program dedicated to cultivating and supporting artist-led collaborative projects whose impact extends beyond the museum walls.

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