Jingle dress and hoop dancing meaningful to dancers
- NC Raine | August 24, 2020
Summertime festivities in the prairies typically mean powwows, jigs, competitions, and cultural celebrations. But with communal gatherings on hold, Eagle Feather News decided to highlight a few of the dancers in Saskatchewan that have made, and will continue to make, these events so special.
Randi Lynn Nanemahoo-Candline
Dance is no small matter for Nanemahoo-Candline. A jingle-dress dancer from Big Stone Cree Nation, now living in Saskatoon, she credits dance with being both her passion and salvation during some of life's biggest challenges.
“I made an agreement with my high power, with the Creator. I said if you help me on this journey in dance, I will abstain from drugs and alcohol. I've been successfully sober for the last ten years now,” she said.
Nanemahoo-Candline wasn't always immersed in dance. After going to powwows as a young girl, jingle-dress dancing immediately resonated with her, but she gave it up after being picked on for having pale skin, red hair, and green eyes. As she got into her early twenties and desires to re-connect with her culture grew stronger, she made a decision to commit fully to dance.
“When I finally got back out there, I was so proud of myself. I've try to dance every single day since,” she said.
“There are so many physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits from dancing.”
Nanemahoo-Candline has made a career out of the hard work she's put into dancing, teaching dance at the Friendship Centre, Wanuskewin, hosting workshops across the province. She says she looks forward to nothing more than continuing to share her passion with others.
“For me, sharing my dance is my way of sharing that beauty with others because its a language anyone can speak.”
Lawrence Roy Jr.
Hoop dancing has been a lifelong engagement for Lawrence Roy Jr. He estimates he's been to around a thousand powwows in his lifetime. And this calling to dance was realized from an early age.
“As just little kids, my mom would take us to powwows, dress us in beaded clothing, and we'd go dancing. She'd point to me and say, 'that guy is going to be a good dancer',” said Roy.
Roy, born in Saskatoon and a member of Little Pine First Nation, said his mother was instrumental in his development, investing from an early age with gymnastics lessons and Wushu. He eventually found his place during hoop dancing lessons in elementary school. He joined a hoop dance troupe, began to travel the powwow circuit and has never looked back.
Roy now dances with 30 hoops and has performed all over the country.
“For me, dancing is all about health. I have a good connection with Mother Nature. When I dance, I try to feel the sky, the wind, the sun. I try to talk with everything around me,” said Roy.
Roy is the proud father of nine children, eight of whom (all but the youngest) are also skilled hoop dancers. Roy takes his children to help him teach dance at the Friendship Centre, which is says has been one of the most rewarding aspects of his vocation.
“I really love making those connections through dance. It doesn't matter what nation you're from, people are so intrigued by the dance,” said Roy. “Everyone can make that rhythm, even inside their heart.”
“Some people are given the right to teach or make drums. I was given the right to teach dance.”.
Almost ten years ago, Delorme said much of her life was changed after an elder handed down a gift empowering her to teach dance.
Prior to receiving this honour, Delorme traveled the powwow trail as a teenager, but says she didn't get into dancing until having children of her own. She now dances the old-style jingle dress dance and teaches dance with her 21 and 18 year-old daughters.
Dance provides physical, emotional, and spiritual balance, she says.
“The jingle-dress dance is a healing dance. We wear many heavy cones on our regalia, so when we dance, we are taught to pray, and the sounds of the cones take our prayers up to the Creator.”
In addition to teaching dance in Regina with her daughters, the Delorme family has begun working with New Dance Horizons, which fuses contemporary creative arts with traditional Indigenous dance. The trio was featured on a special Mother's Day performance on their StreamOfDance.ca platform. The Delorme trio will be featured again this summer on the site as a way to share dance during the quarantine.
“Dancing with my daughters is so unbelievably special because it was something I didn't have growing up. This part of our Indigeneity is connected and part of our everyday lives.”
In 2011, accomplished hoop dancer Terrance Littletent co-created a culture-fusing production with Chancz Perry called Hip Hop Hoop Dance. The production unites two cultures to highlight the similarities while showcasing what makes each unique. In the production, Littletent outlines the five basic teachings of hoop dance: listen, watch, learn, respect, and love.
“A lot of people tell me they've seen hoop dance before, but they haven't heard the significance of what the hoops mean,” said Littletent.
“We speak about racism, reconciliation, and the two cultures coming together and sharing a beautiful story. It's a powerful production with two males coming together showing people our love of dance.”
Littletent and Perry have performed Hip Hop Hoop Dance around 500 times since their collaboration in 2011, and were set to continuing touring around Canada and the United States before having to postpone their shows.
Littletent says dancing is a way of life. From Kawacatoose First Nation, living in Regina, Littletent was grass dancing by age eight and hoop dancing by age 10. In and out of foster care, attending powwows with his late uncle Kirby gave Littletent ßinsight into his culture and taught him lessons he's carried with him throughout his life.
“When we dance, it's for everyone. Hoop dancing is the same thing because it's a healing dance. Those teachings are what I try to live by. My uncle Kirby taught me that if I live by those five basic teachings, I can be successful in anything I do.”