Brand new daily production in Indian Village tells the origins of First Nations dancing and the history of Pow Wow
Calgary – In keeping with the Centennial theme, We’re Greatest Together, the Indian Village presented by Penn West Exploration will be performing a new daily production entitled The Spirit of Dance: A Pow Wow Experience. The show, which tells the history of Pow Wow and the origins of First Nations dancing through song and dance, is a wonderful way to learn more about First Nations culture and acknowledge the central role that they play in our community.
“I developed The Spirit of Dance while teaching my students about the origins of the Pow Wow and dancing,” says Tyrone Sitting Eagle, creator of the production and athletic director at Siksika Nation High School. “It was very difficult to share these stories and their significance to students who had not been raised in the Pow Wow circle and the sundance way of life. I developed a ‘theatre type’ course to help my students understand and relive the significance of the Pow Wow and dancing. It turns out that retelling the history of Pow Wow and dancing through song and dance was also a very effective way of initiating an audience to First Nation culture.”
The one hour show follows a young boy as he questions his grandfather on the origins of Pow Wow and dancing. While the grandfather recounts the stories, the story is performed by students from Siksika Nation High School.
In total, seven dances are acted out on stage including the Jingle Dance, the Old Style Chicken Dance, the Grass Dance, the Women and Men’s Traditional and the Women and Men’s Fancy.
“The regalia worn during each dance is very important,” explains Sitting Eagle. “For example, the outfits worn during the Grass Dance are with long, thick, bright, multi-colored fringes made of yarn or ribbon. These fringes represent the movement of tall grasses as they sway in an imagined breeze. Women’s Fancy outfits include a beautifully decorated shawl which dancers use to create the illusion of a butterfly floating through the air. Regalia also tells a personal story. It can include elements that are special for the dancer.”
Sitting Eagle has been a champion dancer for 25 years. He became a teacher at the Siksika Nation High School in 2008.
The students from Siksika Nation High School will perform at 1 p.m. daily and at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 15 on the Indian Village stage. Access to Indian Village is free with Stampede Park admission. Sitting Eagle and performing students from Siksika Nation High School are available for interview upon request.
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