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Founded in 2000 by Artistic Director and accomplished arts and culture leader Sandra Laronde of the Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe (People of the Deep Water), Red Sky Performance has garnered 5 Dora Mavor Moore Awards and two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, amongst other recognitions, for its significant influence on the artistic evolution of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada and around the world. Sandra has conceived, developed, produced, and toured award-winning dance and live music productions.
Sandra's awards and nominations include: finalist for the 2017 Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award; 2014 Vital Ideas (Toronto Community Foundation); 2013 Victor Martyn Staunch-Lynch Award for Outstanding Artist in Dance (Canada Council); bestowed with a 2011 Honorary Degree (Hons LL.D) from Trent University; 2011 Expressive Arts Award (Smithsonian Institute); Ontario Good Citizenship Medal; City of Toronto and Toronto Life's "Face the Arts" recipient celebrating Cultural Mavericks; Paul D. Fleck Fellowship in the Arts (Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity); Toronto City Council's Aboriginal Affairs Award, and participated in the Governor-General's Canadian Leadership program that celebrates leaders who make a significant impact on Canada. Her company Red Sky garnered five Dora Mavor Moore awards and nominations (2016, 2012, 2010, 2006, 2004) and two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, among others.
Currently, Sandra is also a Curator for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra celebrating Canada’s diverse musical landscape in a Signature Project of Canada 150. She will curate and direct a singular concert featuring a new genre-bending creation that explores an image-rich and potent experience of Indigenous dance, video, music, electro-acoustic, and orchestral music with 75 musicians at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.
Sandra was the Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity from 2008 – 2017. During her nine-year tenure as director, she realized her vision to create exceptional cutting-edge programming informed by Indigenous cultures and worldviews, and excelled at bringing world-class faculty to the Centre. Substantial growth for Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre was achieved under her leadership including place-based culture and an innovative new approach to programming involving hundreds of Indigenous artists worldwide. Through her expertise and extensive global reach, Sandra stimulated new partnerships, audiences, media, and sponsors which successfully positioned the Banff Centre as an internationally recognized destination for Indigenous arts.
An invited speaker, host and emcee at many summits, forums, panels, events, conferences, and galas, Sandra has been a host at the kick-off for the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, Banff’s Midsummer Gala Ball, Native Women’s Resource Centre’s Minaake Awards, Banff Talks, and REDTalks. Most recently, Sandra accepted a Public Member Appointment by the Toronto City Council to serve as a member of the Civic Theatres Toronto Board of Directors. In addition to the new Civic Theatres, she is also appointed to the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, the St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Toronto Centre for the Arts Boards of Directors for the purposes of merging theatre operations under the new Civic Theatres Toronto organization. She is also on the Advisory of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Western Arts Alliance. She was on the National Executive Committee for the Governor-General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, and an Advisor to OCAD University and the Canada Dance Festival, among others.
Sandra holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Toronto, and studied Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Granada in Spain. In 2011, the Senate of Trent University conferred an Honorary Degree of the Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) with all its rights, privileges and obligations.