From dancing in powwows as a kid to popping and locking on stage with A Tribe Called Red, Matthew Wood has come a long way in his career as a dancer.
Last Wednesday Wood, who goes by the handle Creeasian, was selected as Edmonton’s newest Indigenous Artist In Residence.
Besides being a dancer, Wood is also an educator, DJ and producer and the recipient of the 2020 Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund award.
For the past five years, the 37-year-old has been one of two dancers touring with A Tribe Called Red, a popular electronic music group.
“It’s great to be recognized as a professional artist and for myself to have this space to explore more,” he said.
“It’s just really awesome to be able to have an opportunity to learn, to grow and build more on the foundation that I’ve learned through as an artist.”
Wood’s Cree mother was from Fishing Lake First Nation and his father was from Vietnam. He combined the two legacies and fashioned himself a name to perform under, Creeasian.
“My art handle just allows me to, like, honour both sides, empowers my art in a way where I’m able to have my identity through my culture,” he said.
His late mother raised Wood as a single parent and exposed him to dancing and his Indigenous roots.
“She exposed me to my culture at a very young age,” he said.
His mother would take him as a boy to powwows and round dances. For a brief moment as a teenager he rebelled against his heritage, but was brought back by breakdancing and hip hop.
“Basically learning more about hip hop brought me back full circle,” he said. “The more I learned about hip-hop culture and the elements and the history that it comes from, and the challenges it faced to exist, so I related to it really well.”
Wood said it has been interesting researching all aspects of the art form, which he plans to continue during the residency.
Edmonton’s Indigenous Artist in Residence program, started in 2016, is part of the city’s Indigenous Relations Office, a one-year honour where Indigenous artists are given a platform to showcase their art and talent.
The city’s two previous Indigenous Artists in Residence were Dawn Marie Marchand and Melissa Jo (MJ) Belcourt.