There is more than meets the eye when watching a hoop dancer perform, as the audience found out recently while watching a Lawrence Roy Jr. at Carlton High School.

Lawrence Roy Jr. is both a dancer and story teller and told his audience during Tapestrama (one of multiple Culture Days events) that every hoop represents a story, down to the circular shape of the hoop.

“We talk about the circle as something we can learn from,” said Roy, who performed the afternoon of Sept. 25.

When hoop dancing was first created in New Mexico, the dancer used one hoop. Roy was using 30 hoops.

“A hoop was added for each story that was told. The circle is all the different things we have to do in our life,” he said. That circle could be a hawk eating its prey or a buffalo eating grass in the circle of life.

He invited the audience to apply their own interpretation of parts of his dance, whether picturing an eagle, a hawk, a crow or a chickadee.

The metaphor is also included in the round dance, and Roy explained that years ago, learning to dace in Saskatoon, he started with five hoops and the other students in the class were from a variety of cultures, including Ukrainian, Italian, Chinese and Metis learners.

There was also a deaf girl in the class who used the vibration of the drums to keep the beat while she danced.

The round dance is round for a reason, Roy said.

“Nobody was left behind and no one was ahead of us,” he stated. The red and yellow colours on his hoops also have meaning, representing the east and west directions.

“It’s all about balance,” said Roy, “and sunrise is the best time to pray. The sun is pure when it comes up.”

Roy’s hoops were turned into shapes, many being wing-like as he danced, but the conclusion was forming a ball of hoops.

“The ball represents Earth,” Roy explained. “Everything in this earth is all connected so we need to look after our earth. One thing we all have in common is a heartbeat so share your heart, be kind and love one another.”

Tapestrama continues until 7:00 pm on Sept. 26 at Carlton High School. Culture Days continue until the end of October, with the last even in Prince Albert on Oct. 23.
Detailed information is available at https://culturedays.ca/en/sk and then by searching Prince Albert.

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