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Giving Back: Dallas Arcand, Champion Hoop Dancer

Contemporary Life: Implications and Contentions
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Narrator: When as a teen, Dallas Arcand discovered hoop dancing, he had no idea it would change his life. Now 2006 World Champion, he delights in sharing his culture through this athletic and creative dance.

Dallas: “My Regalia is a hoop dance outfit, and some of the other outfits, like traditional, or the Grass Dance, they all have different certain styles. Like the Grass Dance, they wear pants with yarn around, like similar to this, and they have the yarn coming up the side of the leg.

The Hoop Dance is considered to be all different styles, it’s more than just one style put together, because, as hoop dancers, its called the dance of creation, and you have to be creative, a nd you have to demonstrate different styles of dance; you have to demonstrate different symbols in dance. I didn’t know my culture until I was about 14, and I’m like 26 now and I’m still learning. A lot of the lessons that we learn when it comes to dancing have got to do with respect. Respect of self; respect of others; respect of community; respect of family; respect for your outfit; respect for your Elders; respect for other people, you know, other races of people. And humility too. Sometimes when you’re a dancer and if you’re a good dancer, people like to put you on a pedestal, like, “oh, he’s a good dancer” and sometimes it’s not good, but in a sense, that dancer has to learn how to be humble, like I had to learn how to be humble myself when it came to that. Being humble mean s not getting a big head over it or anything like that or not forgetting where you came from or not thinking that you’re better than the rest.

In an educational sense, my culture is very animate, it’s very alive. Everything has its meaning, like everything on this outfit; I wouldn’t put it on my outfit if it didn’t mean anything to me. I do the butterfly in my dance, and everything in our culture comes in fours, so that’s why I have the representation of the four directions and the four directions in our culture is also the medicine wheel concept, so I have the little circles around here. And the medicine is the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual self, and when you have all of these elements of the medicine wheel, our practices and cultures, and when we have all these elements and they’re equally balanced, we’re centered, you know, we’re grounded.

My outfit is like this so we can go through the hoops, like I can’t wear feathers or anything like that. I can, but it all boils down to the respect issue; if I had feathers on I would be wrecking them, and that wouldn’t be very respectful. It takes a long time to get such an outfit together, and when you have feathers especially, you have to really take care of them; you have to do constant repair work on your outfit, you have to smudge it, you have to pray for it, and when you dance, you have to be at one with your outfit and pray with it. It’s not so much a sense of an outfit to look good but an outfit that is a part of you and it represents you and represents a lot of the visions that you have.”

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