Troyanda dancers and Buchanan Indigenous Dance Troupe team up

By Garrett Simmons

Lethbridge School District No. 51

Communications Officer

Lethbridge School District No. 51 students are set to hit the stage Thursday night for a unique dance event.

The Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Club will share the stage with Lethbridge School District 51 First Nations dancers, including the Senator Buchanan Indigenous Dance Troupe, as well as Red Star Women and Cree Hoop Dancers.

The performance is set for May 3 at 7 p.m. at The Enmax Centre.

Troyanda has dancers from École Agnes Davison, École Nicholas Sheran School, General Stewart, Lethbridge Collegiate Institute and Victoria Park.

On Monday at Senator Buchanan, Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Club dancers and Senator Buchanan Indigenous Dance Troupe members had the opportunity to meet, mix, mingle, break bread and showcase their dances to each other. 

“Our performance on Thursday evening isn’t just for the show, we want to genuinely share and experience each other’s culture through relationship,” said Nikki Cale, a Lethbridge School District No. 51 employee who is also with the Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Club. “Troyanda has shared the stage with Indigenous dancers and other cultural groups, at community events like Heritage Days and Bridging Cultures at Lethbridge College, and we have always admired the First Nations dancers and their colourful regalia at these events. So, dancing together is something that has been imagined for quite a while. Our new beautiful, big venue this year allowed it to happen.”

Historically, Troyanda’s spring show, called VESNA, is staged inside The Yates. However, due to the renovations this year at the facility, the group has rented The Enmax Centre.

“We thought, what a magnificent building and opportunity to perform so professionally, and we wondered, with whom could we share this experience?” asked Cale. “It was an easy decision. Troyanda knew, in recognition of the Call to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that we would love to share our stage with First Nations dancers.”

As a result, Troyanda set out to find a young group of First Nation dancers. 

“Wouldn’t children love the experience of dancing at The Enmax?” questioned Cale. “And so, the partnership between Troyanda and Lethbridge School District No. 51 was born. We think it’s a great opportunity to showcase our dances and our cultures to the Lethbridge community in an atmosphere of respect and unity through the mutual language of music and dance.”

Andrea Fox, District Principal of FNMI Education for Lethbridge School District No. 51, said the dance troupe at Senator Buchanan just started up last October.

“At the beginning of the year, we had inquired among our FNMI team about who would be interested in starting a dance troupe,” said Fox, who added Buchanan’s Sky-Lee WolfChild volunteered. “She noticed there were some kids who were spending time at the school after school, and thought why not offer a fun, active, cultural activity for them.”

Fox helped get the dance troupe off the ground, and along with community mentors and some students from Gilbert Paterson Middle School and St. Francis Junior High School, along with dancers from the Blood Tribe, the stage was set.

A University of Lethbridge student, Dylan Daniels, and the 2015/2016 Kainai Princess, Michele Eagle Plume, have also assisted with the troupe. With all of the support the Buchanan troupe has received, Fox is hopeful the idea will spread.

“We’re hearing there is more interest for other schools in our District, so we hope this could act as a model for other schools.”

Fox added there are 12 dancers in the Buchanan troupe, most of which are new to dance. Parents have been very supportive of the initiative, she added, as many have helped create costumes for the group.

The Senator Buchanan dancers will not only hit the stage Thursday at The Enmax Centre, but the troupe will also perform May 24 at the District Powwow at Galbraith Elementary School.

Date posted: May 1, 2018

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