January 13, 2009

Suurimmaanitchuat Dancers at inaugural

Native dancers march in inaugural paradeThe Suurimmaanitchuat Dancers, led by 81-year old Warren Matumeak, has 22 dancers of various ages from several families who will be making the trip. They have been performing in Alaska for the past 20 years at a variety of event in Alaska including the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage, Bethel’s Camai’ Festival, the Kotzebue Trade Fair and the Barrow-based Kivgiq Messenger Feast.

The group was asked in the summer of 2003 to lead the procession of the University of Alaska Fairbanks graduation ceremony. They were one of three Alaska Native dance groups invited to perform at the grand opening ceremony of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and also led the opening procession of the International Whaling Commission meeting in Anchorage in 2007.
And:Apart from the traditional Eskimo songs and dances, the group has put an original, modern twist on their dances and are most known for their “Elvis” dance. Many of the recently-composed songs are performed with a smile. One dance, for example, mimics the pre-flight briefing of airline stewardesses.

Dancing since 1990 The group originated in 1990 to honor the outgoing mayor of the North Slope Borough during a community event. Okakok said their intention was just to have fun and make people laugh, but they so much fun they decided to stick around. With time elders from the community taught the group their songs and so the repertoire grew.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The 2008 Presidential Campaign.

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