Dancers fuse hip hop and hoop to show cultural similarities

Chancz Perry (left) and Terrance Littletent (right) perform at King George Community School on October 17, 2018. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

Giggles and amazement filled a school gym Wednesday morning as students watched a fused performance of First Nations hoop dancing and North American hip hop.

Elementary students at King George Community School sat on the gym floor as Terrance Littletent explained the symbols behind each hoop and each move.

Chancz Perry expressed how hip hop isn’t that different, being inspired by animals and always telling a story.

When the lights went out and Littletent appeared in a traditional, colourful outfit, the children talked amongst each other as they could see light radiate off the hoops, making shapes of Mother Earth and butterflies.

They got their audience even more engaged by inviting them to stand up and dance at the end.

During a question and answer period, one student commented to Littletent that he learned so much.

“It’s a great thing because for our oral tradition as Cree people, that was our teaching, was we had to sit and listen, use our listening skills to put everything together and to learn something new every day,” he said.

Despite the younger grades getting antsy, Littletent said he still feels they made an impact.

“We touched a lot of kids who actually sat and listened to what our message was up here,” he said.

And Perry felt the same way.

“When I’m looking out there, I’m seeing these young kids—First Nations kids, black kids—with their bright eyes and feeling like ‘Okay, there’s representation here,’ and you know, we’re helping to build their confidence and self-esteem. What more could you ask for? It’s healing, it’s therapeutic.”

The school is one out of 14 they’re travelling to across the province from Oct. 15 to Oct. 24.

It’s part of the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Council (OSAC) and funded by SaskLotteries and Saskatchewan Culture.

Littletent and Perry met back in 2011 at a dance festival.

The director asked them to come together and create a unique dance piece incorporating both their cultures and backgrounds.

They performed their original show for six years, before revamping it into a shorter version for their school tour.

Principal Sterling Swain said they told OSAC they were interested in having them come to King George last year, but were held back because of high demand.

“We look for this type of performance to bring both entertainment, but also just that cultural component,” said Swain. “For them to see that type of performance and to learn about the similarities between our cultures rather than the differences is powerful.”

Littletent’s uncle exposed him to hoop dancing when he was 8-years-old. Now, he’s a World-Renowned Hoop Dancer.

Perry juggles many different jobs, working as a sessional instructor at the University of Regina, a child support worker at the YWCA and at the Globe Theatre.

Click here for a more in depth look into Hip Hop Hoop Dance.