Artists of all disciplines throughout history have strived to communicate ideas about their identities and the communities they call home. A weighty responsibility for artists creating today is the need for commentary on pressing social issues that affect us all, sometimes in very different ways. It’s complicated to navigate; for those of us formally unaware and now coming to terms with reality and those of us that have been victimized by systematic abuse.
How do we move forward as a community? A question and call to arms answered by accomplished dancers Terrance Littletent and Chancz Perry, the two have created a stage production that tells the story of a meeting between a traditional Cree Hoop dancer and a modern Hip Hop dancer who discover though sharing the ethos of their respective cultures that they have more similarities than differences. The traditional Cree hoop dance performed by Littletent who is from the Kawacatoose Cree Nation is no doubt visually stunning, but there is a deeper meaning symbolized by the hoop which is the cycle of life. The teachings of the hoop give perspective on the past, present and future of our existence as human beings and the balance of nature that surrounds us.
The engaging and at times even comical Hip Hop Hoop Dance sets up an important context for the traditional Cree Hoop dance so we understand that it is not just entertainment but an expression of spirituality. The show is also a window in for children, as many are familiar with hip hop culture promoted by the music industry and popular culture. Chancz Perry’s character shows youthful exuberance and curiosity when he comes across the traditional Cree dancer, he is eager to learn. Perry’s character also sees himself reflected in the teachings of the hoop, he notes that some of the ethos and influences the traditional steps are also mirrored by the hip hop culture.
This cross cultural collaboration gives children a window into understanding the cultural significance of the indigenous people’s contribution towards the creation of Canada. It will take a few years for the history books to catch up, but much in the vein of traditional storytelling, the change starts at home with family and close friends. We must not see ourselves as divided, we are all Canadians who call this land home, everyone must do their part; watch, listen, and respect and remember the past to help our young leaders decide the future.
Hip Hop Hoop Dance will be performed for the students of RJ Waugh on Friday, December 6. The Carberry Plains Arts Council would like to thank the Manitoba Arts Network for their partnership in brining this performance to the community of Carberry/North-Cypress Langford.