Saturday, 25 June 2011

My Drum Dancing Debut

If you know me, you know I love to dance. So when the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers invited members of the audience to join them onstage to learn a little number during National Aboriginal Day, I was there. The only other "outsiders" to hop to it were four seniors from Indiana.

The dance was a "skinning dance" designed to celebrate post-hunting activity. It was simple to do - mostly upper body, hand and arm movements. One of the Inuvialuit elders even gave me her rabbit fur mittens to wear while I danced, to make the experience more authentic. We performed it once to learn the moves, then we did the dance again for real.

For me, it was the highlight of the Aboriginal Day celebrations. But it wasn't my only dance performance of the day ...

Multi-talented emcee
 All afternoon and evening, the emcee kept yelling out things like, "The first five (men, women, kids, tourists, elders, etc) who (are wearing shorts, own a home, can imitate the call of a ptarmigan, etc) will win this prize."

When he yelled out, "The first person to come onstage and walk like an Egyptian wins the next prize," nobody ran. He repeated the call ... still nobody rose to the challenge. Being a diehard fan of The Bangles, I knew this was something I'd be good at,  so I ran to centre stage and did my best Egyptian impersonation. Twice. For good measure, I also threw in a side-to-side head move I'd learned in Bollywood class. The emcee was speechless; all he could do was laugh and hand me my prize - a nice black satchel courtesy of Inuvik Gas Ltd.

Earlier in the day, I'd also won a ballcap bearing the Inuvialuit logo for being one of the first five people-wearing-red to run onstage. And a woman had walked around handing out flyswatters - with the Inuvialuit logo - to anyone who wanted one. I think pretty much everybody who attended the festivities that day (June 21) came home with at least one prize.

Blanket toss
This year's National Aboriginal Day activities started mid-afternoon with Inuit games (including the blanket toss), followed by musical numbers, performances by the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers, a jigging contest and, to wrap up the celebrations, an outdoor dance under the midnight sun. A community feast carried on all afternoon 'till the food ran out (whitefish and bannock for me; reindeer meat and goose soup for braver folks).

This is my second time at National Aboriginal Day in Inuvik, and it seems to me that, as much as the occasion is about dancing and games, it's even more about gathering the community together, spending time with family, friends and neighbours. All the activities, and the down time in between, are punctuated with much hugging, laughing, chatting and connecting. And it doesn't matter if you're a local or a visitor from far, far away. Everyone is welcome to join in.

Labrador Tea on the fire
Next time, I think I'll enter the jigging contest ...


Unknown said...

Sounds like you had a blast. Keep the blogs coming! I can't wait to get up there.

Sleepwalker said...

Jig away!