Maura Garcia (non-enrolled Cherokee/Mattamuskeet) is a dancer, a choreographer and the artistic director of Maura Garcia Dance (MGD). Her work is powered by a desire to perpetuate ancestral knowledge, actively respect the living earth and further social justice. Maura’s artistic creations reflect the power of stories to form and change our realities. Through narrative driven choreography she seeks to form connections, empower Indigenous cultural values and explore the rhythms of the natural world.
Both as a soloist and with ensembles, she has performed throughout North America, notably at: ArtsCenter (NC), Atlas Performing Arts Center (DC), Dance Place (DC), Disney World (FL), Embassy of Senegal (DC), Folly Theater (MO), Kansas City Repertory Theater (MO), Lawrence Arts Center (KS), Links Hall (IL), Rhythmically Speaking Festival (MN), Talking Stick Festival (BC, Canada), Tampa Convention Center (FL), Unedited Series (SC), University of Arizona, University of South Carolina, Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival (ON, Canada), Walker Arts Center (MN) and the Woodland Cultural Centre (ON, Canada).
In addition to dance for the stage, Maura choreographs for the outdoors and in response to specific places. Her first commission was a performance for the Charleston Library Society (SC) incorporating interviews with library patrons, local Indigenous Natchez creation stories and audience participation. In 2015, the Ackland Art Museum (NC) commissioned her to make a performance in collaboration with sound artist Mark Gabriel Little in response to their featured exhibition. The following year, the inaugural event for Kansas City’s “Art in the Loop” outdoor performance series was a MGD dance created in collaboration with park passersby and city employees.
As a fellow in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s 2016 Artist Leadership Program, she worked with members of the Kansas City Indian Center and local Indigenous artists to realize an 8-month long arts project exploring ancient and contemporary urban Indian identity. Maura is dedicated to collaborating within Indigenous communities to celebrate group narratives through dance and other art forms. To date she has partnered with numerous organizations to carry out workshops and long-term projects: American Indian Mothers (NC), First Nations Graduate Association (NC), First Nations Student Association at the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University (KS), Ikidowin Peer Educators and Acting Ensemble (MN), Kansas City Cherokee Community (KS/MO), Native Youth Inaugural Event (DC), Onkwehón:we - The Original People’s - Festival (ON, Canada) and Two Rivers Gallery (MN).
Maura is sought out for her community engagement and cultural advocacy work. She has facilitated master classes and residencies in the public schools, for national professional conferences, trauma support groups and universities. Through activist essays and panel speaking she has addressed issues from sustainability in the arts to the cultural rights of Native American students. She has been the recipient of numerous honors: Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Projects Studio Residency Award (MO), guest artist studio award from the University of North Carolina’s Department of Dramatic Art (NC), Jewish Community Center's Community Arts Fellowship Grant (KS) , Full Circle: First Nations Performance development grant (BC, Canada), Rocket Grant Project Award (KS/MO) and mentorship in the 2017 Dance/USA Institute for Leadership Training program (national). She is currently a member of theWestern Arts Alliance Advancing Indigenous Performance (AIP) program.
Maura hails from the land now known as North Carolina and currently resides in the Midwest of A-ma-ye-li, also known as turtle island. She believes that every interaction with a living being is an opportunity to positively affect the world. As she travels the world, she continues to seek out opportunities that will allow her to dance, connect and create with others.