Thursday, 03 December 2015 17:55

ONYAT'A:KA Oneida Pride!

 

Oneida Pride

 

Oneida Pride – Students Celebrate Their Creativity & Culture

I just had an incredible week full of Oneida Pride as I worked with students at Standing Stone School at Oneida Nation of the Thames. Four classes were interested in songwriting, one wanted to do filmmaking and another did slam poetry. On Friday afternoon I commandeered the school PA system and started playing this song we’d written together over the intercom. The students all poured out of their classrooms and we had this impromptu rock show moment in the hallway!

When I walked into the Grade 2 classroom I asked what type of song they’d like to write. “A Christmas song!” one little girl exclaimed. I asked what we should call it. “Christmas Town” another chimed in. By the time I could grab a marker and make my way to the white board the kids were off and running, calling out lyrics as I scrambled to write them down.

I grabbed my guitar and started to find a melody that would work with the lyrics, as well as be in a good key for them to be able to sing. In four days we wrote the music, lyrics and melody together and recorded it. And honestly…it’s an amazing song!

CHRISTMAS TOWN

At the beginning of the week, I had an opportunity to get together with L:ao Antone, the Oneida language teacher, who graciously helped me work out some Oneida words that could be incorporated into the song I was writing with the kids. Creative and cultural literacy projects are an incredible opportunity to work together collaboratively to create something bigger than anyone person who is involved. This video is where we started on Monday…by Friday we were chanting at the top of our lungs in the hallway like we were at a rock concert!

SONGWRITING IN ONEIDA

If you’re interested in booking creative or cultural literacy projects for your school contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 250-896-2572

Published in Tour Stories
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 18:34

Change The World

Change Your Words You Can Change The World

An Artist Residency is one of my favourite things in the world. It gives me the opportunity to spend quality time in a school investing in the lives of the students and staff. This week I got to work with 360 students to produce a multi media production called, Change The World/Change le Monde.

Words like ‘madhouse’ ‘bedlam’ and ‘creative chaos’ were used on several occasions and some of the more ‘senior staff’ were captured on video covering their ears in a desperate attempt to muffle the deafening cheers. (Though smiles tugged suspiciously at the corners of their mouths at the same time)

The Plan…produce a digital media project that celebrated the community life of the school, highlighting themes like social responsibility and leadership and really set the tone for the school year. When I arrived Monday morning, I was given a schedule that looked like a piece of homework that maybe the dog actually should have eaten. Teacher’s names were scribbled and scrawled…some were crossed out and redirected with curved double-ended arrows indicating a reshuffling of exotic ingredients in some madcap creative recipe. I kid…it showed me immediately that the staff were engaged and accommodating to making this plan work for everyone. Cooperation is key to success!

Day One…I spent the first day dashing from room to room, interviewing all the students. What words did they use to describe their school, their class, teacher and friends? I asked them for personal stories of how someone had made their life better, and how they had made someone else’s life better and wrote it all down.

I compiled word banks and created a cache of stories from these interviews. A big colourful sign in the hallway that said, ‘Change Your Words, Change Your Mindset’ really caught my eye. (and imagination) At the end of Day One I sat down and channeled all the inspiration to write a song called, Change the World.

Day Two…bright and early I was once again scampering through the hallways, drifting in and out of classrooms like a wandering minstrel, teaching the new song to each class. In between rehearsals we worked out visual components of our project. Central is a French Immersion school, so language is a big part of their identity. ARTS posters are pinned on every wall spelling out the school’s community values. Acceptance/Accepter, Respect/Respecter, Together/Tous, Security/Sécurité.

Plans emerged for each classroom make giant, colourful posters that spelled out these words. It was a tactile way for the kids to engage with the words that express the values that create a safe, encouraging environment that foster their hopes and dreams.

 

We covered a huge area in one hallway with paper, creating a ‘School Wall’ where students could write personal iMessages like, ‘I feel safe here’ ‘I respect my friends.’ In the brilliant words of one little dude, ‘this is the most awesomeist graffiti ever!’

I explored the wild side of the playground with my camera, capturing the kid’s energy and enthusiasm in their natural habitat. When you’re in elementary school, the playground is where the real work of respect, acceptance and togetherness is done.

I also found time to marvel that at some point in my life I too had been able to swing on monkey bars without pulling my limbs from their sockets.                        (those days are long past)

Day Three…flew by in a blur of filming, drawing, colouring and rehearsing as I raced from the highest room in the tallest tower to the deep dark recesses of Central’s WWII era basement. I’m not going to lie, 360 kids keep you hopping. One of things I love about being a facilitator is the energy builds exponentially because everyone is able to be involved in a way that plays to their strengths. I’m not the horse or the wagon…I’m just the wild guy with the guitar having the time of his life playing a melody that lets us sing together at ear-bleeding levels.

Day Four…the momentum continued to build through the day, coming to a deafening ‘world changing’ crescendo at the assembly in the gym, where the mood was electric and the kids sang so loud it felt like an AC/DC concert.

I set up my portable recording gear, set a stationary camera at the back of the room and gave my handheld to a volunteer and we proceeded to record and film the song three different times. Watching the footage close to a gazillion times as I edited the video, I was blown away by the power of community and creativity to change our lives and the world around us.

I love being part of a great story and happily offer my 18 years of experience as a professional writer, performer and producer in the music, TV and film industry to each school to help students discover their talents, gifts and abilities so they can tell their story in ways they haven’t before. If this is something that would interest your school or community, you are 100% free (and encouraged) to contact me anytime!  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

It is a privilege to be able to invest in the lives of others.
Merci Beaucoup…Change le Monde!

Published in Homepage
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 22:25

Idle No More - The Power of Story

 

Idle No More is the movement of the moment. For some it’s a movement they’ve waited their whole lives to see, and for others it’s something that has come out of the blue without warning. For my part I’m excited, because this is an amazing opportunity for the Power of Story to change how we see ourselves and the world around us.

The Story of Canada is the narrative used to explain how we got to where we are today. It’s a powerful Story that’s been used for hundreds of years to explain away the excuses and abuses of power and position. A story full of misdirection, half-truths and outright lies…and it’s starting to unravel. That’s one of the reasons I’m excited…the unraveling of the Story of Canada is an exciting opportunity for storytellers to be Idle No More.

While preachers feverishly preach their version of the truth to the converted and politicians dutifully tow the official party line and corporations desperately cling to outdated business-as-usual solutions, storytellers are free. Free to use the full measure of creativity to tell a new Story…one that can slip in between the cracks of a crumbling façade and let the light fill hearts and minds.

Cause we didn’t just get to where we are by accident. The rampant racism, bigotry, inequality and abuses of power are all part of the Story we were told. The Story that taught settlers how to see indigenous communities and visa versa, the Story told to children, reinforced by parents who repeated what they’d been taught in schools, universities and boardrooms. So while preachers, teachers, politicians and big business certainly have a responsibility and a part to play, Idle No More needs great storytellers to use their creative talents and abilities to engage, empower and educate this country. Storytellers work with the palette of possibilities and have the ability to empower individuals to imagine ways they can be active participants in making the world a better place.

Idle No More is an opportunity to write a new Story, a better one, more generous, honest and true…one that will change the world.

Rik Leaf is the Creative Director for Tribe of One, a performance collective featuring English, French, First Nations and Metis musicians, dancers, painters and poets who fuse the rich heritage of indigenous culture with modern forms of artistic expression.

Published in Tour Stories
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 22:46

Rik Leaf's New CD!

 

 

 

In 2011 Rik won the Spirit of Canada Songwriting competition. First place came with recording time at OakStone Studios in Victoria, B.C.

Inspired by Michael Franti's, Stay Human, album, Rik enlisted the poetic styling of Janet Rogers, Victoria's, Mohawk poet laureate and recorded Beyond the Glass Ceiling, his first disc featuring spoken word poetry. The two incredibly poetic and politically-minded artists vamped and riffed between songs – like Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK channeling the spirit of Shakespeare.

What emerged was something unlike anything Rik's released before...six new socially-minded songs steeped in New World indigenous instrumentation interspersed between six spoken word poetry vignettes. The new album captures our unique time in history, as our collective hope and faith in institutions are stretched beyond the breaking point and individuals turn to one another for strength and comfort.

Beyond the Glass Ceiling is absolutely worth a listen! Incorporating spoken word poetry provides an exciting bridge between Rik's past releases and the live performances his audiences have come to love.

For a limited time you can download Beyond the Glass Ceiling for free or by donation.

Published in Tour Stories
Monday, 13 June 2011 17:36

Tribe of One Bio

Tribe of One features First Nations, Metis, French & English musicians, dancers, painters and slam poets together in one technically innovative, highly adaptable, cross-cultural show that features an amazing blend of Sound, Physical Movement & Dance, Performance Painting, Slam Poetry.

Sound - A fusion of indigenous instruments from cultures around the world creates a thunderous Tribal Sound that blends World-Roots-Funk-Blues


Physical Movement and Dance – Dancers from indigenous cultures combine traditional and modern dance styles, regalia and costumes to transform the stage through colour and movement.


Performance Painting – Audiences are captivated as images and colours emerge from an empty canvas infused with the swirl of music, movement and creative energy on and off the stage.


Storytelling – rich lyrics, slam poetry, instrumental soundscapes and spontaneous stories to transport audiences to a world of imagination and wonder.

Tribe of One’s incredibly positive, groove-heavy, exciting and danceable live performances make them festival favorites. From Festival du Voyageur and the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik, to art galleries and cultural celebrations, Tribe of One engage audiences through every sense simultaneously.

Published in Press Media

Satisfied Customers

banner