Sharing traditions and building skills
- Kaitlynn Nordal | February 24, 2022
For Shana Pasapa, dance is more than just getting some exercise, it’s a way to connect with other people and to the culture.
“I’ve enjoyed dancing since I was a little girl,” she said.
When she was 15, she learned hoop dancing and is now passing that skill onto others.
Late last year, the Newo-Yotina Friendship Centre received funding from the City of Regina, which was used to start a hoop-dancing class. Pasapa had taught other classes at the friendship centre, so when she was asked to be the instructor she accepted.
The class launched in December and due to COVID-19 it’s being taught via Zoom. Registered participants, who don’t have their own hoops, are able to borrow some, so that they can learn at home. Russell Paskimen, 12, is one of the participants in the class and he’s always had an interest in dance.
“I’ve always been a dancer,” said Paskimen. “I like the feeling of being there and being able to dance. Sometimes the kids will watch me and be amazed.”
He decided to join the class after his mother Fernanda Horse, who is a champion hoop dancer herself, saw the advertisement and asked if he wanted to try it.
“My mom showed me this poster of hoop dancing and I thought it looked interesting so I wanted to join,” said Paskimen.
“When I started taking the class, I found I really enjoy hoop dancing,” said Paskimen, who’s been there from the start.
Although it was something Horse enjoys, she never wanted to force hoop dancing on her children and is proud of Paskimen for giving something new a try.
“Once he started, he was a natural and enjoyed it,” said Horse. “I’m proud of him for doing it and giving it a try.”
Zoom may not be the ideal way to instruct a dance class, but so far, Paskimen has had a decent time learning this way and Pasapa is proud of her students for sticking with it.
Surprisingly, the interest continues to grow and even more students have joined the class in January.
“I’m very happy with how hard my students have worked towards their routine in the last month,” continued Pasapa. “We hope to help them with their regalia by the summer so it gives them something to look forward to.”
Pasapa hopes the dance class will have a positive impact on her students.
“Dancing has always given me confidence and made me proud of my identity,” she said. “It made me capable of telling stories. It’s always been a form of healing for me and the teaching that comes with the hoop, so if they can take any of that home, that would be amazing.”
It’s a message not lost on Paskimen who hopes to become a champion hoop dancer.
“I look up to my mom and test myself to see if I can go farther,” said Paskimen, referring to his mom’s dance history not only in Saskatchewan but all of Canada.
Regardless of what the future holds, Horse is proud of her son.