Alex Wells, Lil’wat Nation hoop dancer, and Nelson Leon, Stó:lo Nation story teller and drummer put on a performance for the students at Nak’al Bun Elementary School June 3.
Leon said he and Wells began performing and working together leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Currently the two performers are traveling to schools and doing shows at various venues around B.C.
The duo didn’t just perform hoop dancing and storytelling for the students, Wells and Leon also incorporate lessons to the students through their dances and songs about being good reflections of their families, the connection between all people and the Earth and working together as a community.
Nelson explained to the students that being a part of the circle during the hoop games made the circle stronger and even though the game was difficult, working together made the game easier.
“It was a challenge, I wanted to thank you all for working together,” he said. “There are many types of circles in our culture. It really does mean a lot, the circle … that life cycle.”
Wells, a hoop-dancer for more than 25 years, taught students about dancing with the hoops and the traditions and stories behind the dances.
“When your family passes that story down to you, that’s what they say, ‘You cannot change that story’,” Wells said. “You treat the hoops like they are something that is sacred.”
At the end of Wells’ last hoop dance he placed the ball he had made from the hoops in front of the students and explained how it represented all the nations of people and the world and community working together.
“When we all work together we create a beautiful world,” he said as he pulled out a hoop from the globe and the ball came apart. “And, it only takes one person to wreck that. That’s the story of the world we weave.”
Students had opportunity to learn the basics of hoop dancing, play hoop games – which illustrated how circles are a part of the strength of a community by holding hands in a circle and passing the hoop around the circle without breaking the circle.
“This is my passion, this is what I love to do.” Wells said. “By teaching we are also teaching ourselves as well.”