Monday, March 23, 2009

Yuraq makes March happy

Yuraq is traditional Yup'ik dancing, and every March Hooper Bay has The Louie Bunyan Festival in which the dance groups in town dance for the community, as well as groups from visiting communities, such as Chevak, Scammon Bay, Stebbins, etc. Every year different groups come, though the villages close by almost always come (and Hooper Bay goes to their festivals as well). I wrote more about the history of the festival in the spring of 2007 here and here.

It was my goal to bring Esther to practice with the school dance group every Sunday night and perform with them this year. We did it! I am beginning to feel more and more tied in to the dancing each year; I am beginning to remember the dances (instead of just having to watch and follow one of the leaders), which frees me up to be more creative with the movements. The crowd loves expressive dancers and funny endings to songs; they love to laugh at silly and vehement dancers, which encourages the dancers to be sillier and more vehement. The songs and lyrics are all very old, but they are free to be interpreted in new ways. It feels like this is one tradition that is not dying out because it is adapting to the new world; of course it is not the same as it once was, but nothing is. What will survive are the things that can change and yet stay the same in substance... I think this is one tradition that is just that. Here is a picture of the girls in their matching qaspeks that I made for them:

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