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April 13, 2023 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

On the Boards is thrilled to present Christopher Morgan’s Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence. The performance incorporates dance, Hawaiian chant and percussion, original compositions for cello, and multimedia scenic design to examine ancestry, home, and belonging. Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence creates a comprehensive picture of the multiplicity of identities we all navigate and invites the audience to reflect on their perception of Native people, their own identities, and their instinct. This work asks us each to consider who we are, to reflect on where we come from, and to wonder about ways of knowing that are both inherited and learned.

The company and I are sincerely grateful to On the Boards for their deep support of Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence, and we’re thrilled that the Seattle community will be the first to see the fully realized work.”
– Christopher Morgan

Performance Dates:

• Thursday, April 13 at 8pm
• Friday, April 14 at 8pm  (followed by a conversation with the artist)
• Saturday, April 15 at 8pm
• Sunday, April 16 at 5pm

The research for Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence began by questioning the word native, an identity that has become politically charged, has limiting vagueness, and has long been a weapon of colonization. The work explores nature versus nurture, the origins of instinct, what aspects of our identities are shaped by our environment, and if our genes influence who we become. Looking to genetics inspired Christopher Morgan to incorporate a lei making technique whose twisting spirals are reminiscent of the double helix of DNA. The metaphor of lei as strands of our DNA informed the scenic design by Brenda Mallory, and how the work looks to weave together stories from varied identities as a way to build bridges that celebrate difference and respect unique individuality.

With live music by electric cellist Wytold and Hawaiian chanter/percussionist Patrick Makuakāne, projection design by Kelly Colburn, lighting by Peter Leibold, and costuming by Marques Hanalei Marzan, this work creates a comprehensive picture of the multiplicity of identities we all navigate and invites audiences to reflect on their perception of Native people, their own identities, and instinct. Joining long-time company dancers Tiffanie Carson, Abby Farina, and Deontay Gray are new company members Jamison Curcio and frequent collaborator Matthew Cumbie.

“All of the artistic collaborators behind the project have nurtured it to fruition in ways I never could have imagined when we started developing it in 2019. Throughout the past several years of global unrest, convening to continue the creative process was an anchor for all of us. In addition to the challenges brought by the pandemic, an increased commitment to enact racial and social justice forced us to re-evaluate how to safely and equitably work together. I hope audiences can feel the bonds that we have grown with one another in this extended process, and see some of their own stories reflected in ours.”
– Christopher Morgan

Content warning: This work contains video and lighting effects with geometric patterns utilizing contrasts of light and dark such as stripes or bars. This may cause discomfort and/or seizures for those with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.

About On the Boards:

Since its inception in 1978, On the Boards has moved the needle on culture in Seattle. We influence contemporary art on a global scale by investing in and championing local artists. Our performances challenge established paradigms, provoke new ways of thinking, and inspire societal change.


April 13, 2023
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm


On the Boards
100 West Roy St
Seattle, WA 98119
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On the Boards
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