Curriculum Connections

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1 Canadian Aboriginal Festival November 25, 2005 Rogers Centre (Skydome) Toronto Curriculum Connections Aboriginal Dance Styles of dance among Canada s Aboriginal peoples are as rich and diverse and the Nations themselves. At the Canadian Aboriginal Festival, students and educators all over Ontario will get to see many such styles through demonstrations on Education Day. The following summary highlights a few Aboriginal dance styles- Iroquois social dancing, Hoop Dancing, Pow Wow Dancing and Métis Jigging. Class activities that link the content to the Ontario Elementary Curriculum across several grade levels are included. CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS Grade 2 Social Studies- Traditions and Celebrations identify ways in which heritage and traditions are passed on (e.g., stories; community celebrations; special days such as Remembrance Day, Canada Day, Aboriginal Solidarity Day, and religious holidays; the Canadian flag; music, crafts, dance, food, recreation, clothing); Grade 3 Social Studies- Early Settlements in Upper Canada re-create some social activities or celebrations of early settler and/or First Nation communities in Upper Canada. Grade 4- Drama and Dance describe aspects of dances from a variety of cultures (e.g., styles, costumes, music, forms, steps, positions); Grade 5 Social Studies- Early Civilizations outline how social needs were met in two or more early civilizations (e.g., family roles, recreation, sports, arts, entertainment, sanitation, education, written language); Grade 6 Social Studies- First Nations Peoples and Early Explorers compare key social and cultural characteristics of Algonquian and Iroquoian groups (e.g., language; agriculture and hunting; governance; matriarchal and patriarchal societies; arts; storytelling; trade; recreation; roles of men, women, and children); Grade 7 Drama and Dance describe how different cultures use drama and dance; Grade 8 History- Confederation identify key social, political, economic, and physical characteristics of the British North American colonies between 1850 and 1860 (e.g., British, French, First Nation, and Black communities); Grade 8 History- Development of Western Canada show how examples of art, poetry, music, and video reflect the history of the Canadian west (e.g., Métis fiddling and jigging)

2 Grade 8 History- Canada: A Changing Society describe key characteristics of Canada between 1885 and 1914, including social and economic conditions, the roles and contributions of various people and groups, internal and external pressures for change, and the political responses to these pressures; Grade 8 Geography- Migration describe the effects that migration has had on the development of Canada (e.g., European influences on Aboriginal culture and social activities resulting in a unique Métis culture which reflected aspects of both parent cultures) KEY CONCEPTS The Aboriginal community comprises many diverse Nations and cultures. Every Nation or cultural group will have their own special dances unique to their people which reflect their social, spiritual and communal existence Many Aboriginal dances are named after animals such as the Eagle Dance, Bear Dance, Rabbit Dance, etc.. Others names refer to special cultural items or regalia used or worn during the dance such as the Women s Fancy Shawl Dance, Women s Jingle Dance, as well as the Broom Dance and the Sash Dance of the Métis. In First Nations powwow dancing, the regalia worn, as well as all of the intricate steps all have special significance. In some dances such as the Women s Traditional Dance, one foot must always be touching the ground symbolizing the connection to Mother Earth. Other dances, such as the Men s Fancy Dance, are war dances representing the type of dancing that the men once did to get them psyched for battle. In First Nations culture many of the dances are for women only, or men only. At a powwow you will hear dances referred to by gender, eg. Men s Traditional Dance, Men s Grass Dance, Women s Traditional Dance. Métis dance styles have evolved through the blending of their Aboriginal and European parent cultures. The Red River Jig, a lively dance to the musical accompaniment of the fiddle, is a social dance demonstrating a mix of First Nations powwow dances and Irish/Scottish jigging. Powwow dancing, as well as many First Nations and Métis social dances are performed in a circle. The circle has a sacred role in many Aboriginal cultures as it represents the circle of life- one that is infinite as it has no beginning and no end. The circle also represents the cycle of life (infant, child, adult, Elder), the four directions (north, south, east and west) and the change of seasons (spring, summer, fall and winter). BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON ABORIGINAL DANCE STYLES AND TRADITIONS Iroquois Social Dancing Iroquois social dances can be classified into three different types: stomp, fish or side-step shuffle. A stomp dance is a style characterized by a certain movement of the feet of the dancer. The right foot leads and steps out and the left foot is then brought up to meet the right. In the Friendship Dance outlined in the attached activity, dancers engage in a type of stomp where the toe of the right foot touches on the first beat, followed by the whole foot coming down on the second beat. The left foot then repeats this pattern, resulting in a shuffle type step to the beat of a water drum. Hoop Dancing Hoop dancing is one of the most fascinating types of Aboriginal dance for spectators as the dancer gracefully manipulates dozens of hoops in intricate patterns to tell a traditional story. The hoops represent the sacred circle of life that has no beginning and no end. The colours of the hoops are black, red, yellow and white to represent the four colours of the Medicine Wheel, the four directions and the four seasons. The dancer will start with one hoop, then continue to add hoops to represent one s life journey and the relationships between people, animals and Mother Earth. Pow Wow Dancing Many of the dancers at the Aboriginal Festival are pow wow dancers. There are many different styles of dance at the pow wow. For the women, there are traditional dancers, jingle dress dancers and fancy shawl dancers. Women s traditional

3 dancers have long deerskin dresses with fringes and bone breastplates. These women carry fans and shawls and dance in a very stately manner staying firmly connected to the earth when they dance. Jingle dress dancers do beautiful healing dances. Their dresses are covered in metallic cones that make a soothing sound when they dance. The fancy shawl dancers look like beautiful butterflies as they whirl with the long fringes on their shawls flying. For the men, there are traditional dancers with their deerskin regalia. The grass dancers have colourful regalia and long flowing fringes that move like grass in the wind. Fancy dancers often have brilliantly coloured regalia and their dance is very energetic, requiring great stamina. Métis Jigging With the intermarriages between early French and Scottish fur traders and Cree and Anishinabe women came the emergence of a unique culture and history shared by a people recognized by the Canadian Constitution as a unique Aboriginal group - the Métis. Métis dance styles are very lively and spirited reflecting the social and festive nature of the Métis community. Fiddles were made by hand and dances evolved that were a blend of traditional First Nations dancing and Irish/ Scottish jigging. The Red River Jig has become the Métis signature dance and this tradition continues to be carried on through Métis cultural events and social gatherings. In the attached activity, students will be able to view various video clips of different jigs traditional to the Métis.

4 EXTENSION ACTIVITIES Activity 1: The Friendship Dance To download a sample of a Friendship Dance song, go to htm The Friendship Dance has many variations across Nations. The following is a description of one example of this social dance. 1. Have students stand in a circle holding hands. 2. One student, or the teacher, will be the lead dancer for this dance 3. When the drumming starts, the lead dancer will move in a counter-clockwise direction using a modified stomp step. Starting with the right foot, step out and touch the ground with the toe of the foot, then bring the whole foot down on the second beat, repeating with the left foot in a touch-step, touch-step two beat pattern. 4. Once all students in the circle have the stepping pattern, the lead dancer will let go of the hand of the person on his/her right and double-back into the center of the circle, now moving in a clockwise circle facing those in the outer circle still moving in a counter-clockwise direction. 5. The lead dancer continues in this pattern until all dancers have passed each other in the insideoutside circle formation. Eventually the large circle will reform and the lead dancer can then take the hand of the person who had originally been on their right. The dance ends with the last drum beat.

5 THE FRIENDSHIP DANCE CIRCLE

6 Activity 2: Comparing Métis Jigging to First Nations Powwow Dancing Use the websites given below to view videos of both powwow dancing from the Canadian Aboriginal Festival, as well as Métis social jigging from the Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture. Use the fishbone map below to compare the two styles by music, dress, and dancing styles.

7 RESOURCES ON ABORIGINAL DANCE STYLES AND TRADITIONS cultures/nativedance.html#top Red River Jig shtml Videos: 17 th Annual SIFC 95 PowWow. Saskatoon, SK: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre, (TDSB Library and Learning Resources) Dance Styles: Vol 1. Folsom, LA: Full Circle Videos. Dist. Written heritage, (TDSB Library and Learning Resources) Dancing Feathers: Prod. Paul Stephens. Dist. The Altschul Group. Spirit Bay Productions, 1983, 28 minutes. (TDSB Library and Learning Resources) Métis Nation of Ontario The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture Paquin, T., Prefontaine, D., Young, P., Traditional Métis Socialization and Entertainment, Gabriel Dumont Institute, May 30,

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