Camai 2014 kicks off in Bethel

by Ben Matheson on March 21, 2014

More than 20 dance groups will perform at this weekend’s Camai Dance Festival in Bethel.The BRHS Warrior dancers will kick off the celebration Friday evening. One regional group making a long awaited return is one from Kwethluk, according to Linda Curda,the co-coordinator for the Camai Dance Festival.

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“They had stopped dancing and they’re dancing again, they came last in 1990 to Camai. Napaskiak has not been here in a while. Usually it was a school group, but a young man in the village who danced when he was younger and has started an adult dance group. We’re thrilled to have them joining us,” said Curda.

One of the many headliners will be famous hoop dance group including Frank Waln.

“He has teamed up with two brothers who are Seneca Indians, They live in Chicago but grew up in California where they learned to hoop dance,” said Curda.

Waln has won the prestigious Native American Music Award. There are several global groups, like Pacific Bloom, a group of Polyneian and south pacific dancers. Another group will be a visual spectaclle

“A Chinese classical dance group. They will be in full regalia and headdress. They’re bringing a 35 40 pound Chinese drum and instruments to perform. With them will be the lions dance troupe..they have the huge lions heads and costumes,” said Curda.

The theme for this year is Healing With Dance. That came from the committee in the months leading up to Camai.

“We had seven different themes, everyone one had healing in some combination. It’s been a hard winter. There is a real sense of folks this spring as we talked about it that this year, it’s healing with dance, dance practice, coming together as a community, the sense of coming to Camai,” said Curda.

The festival includes up close and personal sessions throughout the weekend. Those are one hour sessions where people can meet performers, dance little bit, and learn more about the groups.

The full schedule is here.

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