Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Miki Mappin
Miki is a seasoned human being, dancer, sculptor, sketch artist, technician, scenic/architectural designer, and friend. With the ability to maneuver through the various roles and times of the era, she is an artist that has been a chameleon throughout her career and life.
I have known Miki Mappin for the past 3 years, and over that time she has been a very busy woman! I first met her as an audience member while taking in a performance by KSAMB dance, a local duo dance company comprised of herself and Kyle Syverson. With the brains to envision and actively pursue what she is passionate about, Miki has taken the front and back stages in creating the pulse behind some of Saskatoon’s best free form dance opportunities, such as Dance Church and the Saskatoon Improv Dance Collective.
Where Miki has truly shone over the time I have know her has been her incredible contributions in the active role of political human rights. A well known lobbyist for gender human rights, Miki has been on the front lines to bulldoze a path for the transgender population to gain status and rewrite the laws to include transgender people in the Saskatchewan Code of Human Rights. Some of the initiatives that Miki was proud to be involved with include Time 4 Rights, Transgender Awareness Week, and rallies at the Regina Legislature.
The depths of her artistic perception and revolutionary vision are an asset to any team Miki is a part of. A woman of many hats, she wears them all very well.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
I’m collaborating on the creation of a performance piece with a couple of other dancers, Karla Kloeble and Mitchell Larson. It’s scary; we’re dealing with personal material on the theme of contradictions, using movement and spoken word.
I’ve finally regained my strength after some health issues and with Kyle Syverson, the other half of KSAMB Dance Co., we are back to jamming and sharing different recent contact improv experiences. We’ve been working on ballet and improvisation with some friends, and are investigating performance opportunities.
I continue to write, though I haven’t added anything recently to my online journal. Some of the writing is connected to the contradictions collaboration, but I’m also working on my second piece of autobiographical creative non-fiction.
KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?
By day job, I’m guessing you mean the work I do to make money. I’m semi-retired, and only work part-time and occasionally. Since 1985 I’ve been a member of the IATSE Local 300 stagehands union, and I work mostly at the TCU Place in Saskatoon, often at night. I prefer to work with the wardrobe department of a visiting musical, or as a follow spot operator. I sometimes work as a camera operator for concerts or in a convention centre. I especially enjoy the challenge of having a part in a live show which I’ve never seen.
KC: What’s important to you?
The celebration of life that is love and art. Dance is life, and life is important. In its immanence and interconnectedness, and its fascinating variety.
KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?
I love the river, and the parks that bring nature right through the city. I once watched a moose wading through town.
KC: What is your impression of Regina?
The first visit I remember was in 1967. I was 11. I was on my way from Yorkton to summer camp, Camp Tawasi, on Echo Lake in the Quappelle Valley. My mum put me on the bus to Regina, and I spent the night in the YMCA, from where I was taken by staff to the camp. It was pretty exciting.
I formed an impression of Regina as a centre of government later in that year when I returned on a school trip, to see the Centennial Train and visit the Legislature. I was crazy about photography, and took lots of colour photos with my new Agfa camera which I had saved up my allowance to buy. Previously I had only been able to take black and white photos. I couldn’t get colour film for the Brownie Box camera my mother had given me.
I spent more time in Regina in the fall of 1981 and 1982, preparing my submission and installing the concrete figures and wood and steel benches which formed the sculpture installation I was commissioned to make for the T.C. Douglas Building lobby. At the time the building only housed Sask Health. I was impressed by the new, modern architecture being built by the prosperous NDP Government. Events in Regina that year changed my life, when Grant Devine was elected and began cutting funding to the arts, forcing me to take work in the theatre, and finally to flee the province to begin a new career as theatre consultant in Barcelona.
My impression of Regina as a desert full of boring bureaucrats has changed in recent years. Visits for inspiring events organized by the dance community and participation in the Pride Parade and transgender activism brings me to the city a few times every year. I love to spend time in Wascana Park, and usually visit my sculptures, which now have the Mackenzie Gallery next door.
KC: How do you survive the winters?
I was born and lived my first three years in the sub-tropics, on the Indian Ocean in South Africa. I don’t like being cold. I’m afraid of freezing.
I survive by challenging myself. My roommate and I turn off the furnace for six months of the year and this year we held out until mid October. We keep the house at 7 degrees at night and when we’re out, turning it up to 15 when we get home, or maybe 17 in the evening. I walk and ride my bike everywhere all year. I go skating, and also to the pool where, after swimming, I can lay in the hot tub and bake in the sauna. I seek the sun as much as I can, and turn on lots of lights in my room in the morning and evening.
I wear layers of warm clothing. Mukluks, hat, facemask, scarves and mitts. I eat spicy soup, and drink tea and hot chocolate. I sleep under two down quilts.
KC: (from the Proust questionnaire) Which talent would you most like to have?
Because I began dancing so late in life, at 49, I’m not very good at it. I’ve learned that I can perform movement, and I’m getting better at Contact Improv but I’d love to be able to dance Tango and Swing.