It was also an opportunity for some of the aboriginal children at the school to share their own culture with their friends and classmates, who got to see first-hand the traditions and dances of other cultures in North America.
In fact, the kids were so excited by the dress, the dance moves, the hoops and the performer himself, that they had many a question for James Jones, and later for their teachers and staff.
So here are a few of their questions answered!
Who is James Jones?
James Jones is a cultural hoop dance artist who has performed and traveled across Europe, China, Australia, and North America. Some of James' notable performances include the 2006 World Ski Cup Championship in Italy, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the 2014 JUNO awards and the 2015 Sydney Opera House. James is currently on a world tour with Juno Award winning group "A Tribe Called Red”. In fact, James delayed his trip to Iceland so he could come and perform for our Lord Aylmer kids!
What is Traditional Hoop Dancing?
To introduce his Traditional Hoop Dancing to the children, James Jones first explained the traditional importance of Hoop Dancing in his culture as a form of storytelling, wherein it connects the dancers, as well as the audience to the past, while passing on knowledge from one generation to the next. The hoop itself is an important symbol to many tribes across North America as it represents countless spiritual elements, animals and even objects (i.e., eagles, butterflies, snakes, the soul, Mother Earth, etc.).
As you will see in the pictures and videos below, hands are used and not hips; hoops do not swing around bodies but are moved carefully from formation to formation. And like in nearly all Native social dances, modesty seems key.
The answer was a resounding YES! Everyone cheered and clapped in amazement at the spinning hoops, the hoop jumps, the shaping of hoop forms around and about James' body and the overall storytelling behind the traditional dance. After his dances, James Jones would take a few moments to ask the kids what types of animals or objects they saw in the hoops: the answers were many and creative and included Eagles, Butterflies, Earth and even Mickey Mouse!
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Exhilarated by the performance, the kids couldn't wait to give it a try, so when James Jones asked who would like to get up on stage- all hands went up! A few children were quickly chosen and brought on stage where James set them up with some hoops so they could try out some of the Traditional Hoop Dancing moves. Even our Principale, Mr. Aitken, and our Gym Teacher, Mr. Contreras gave it a go!
Guess which creature Mr. Aitken transformed into in this video and listen to the kids cheering! Is there anything more fun than a school where your teachers and Pincipal get right into the fun?
James Jones seemed to have as much fun as the kids sharing his art and maybe even inspiring some of them to take-up Hoop Dancing themselves!! And when the kids were asked if James Jones should visit the school again for more Dancing and maybe even some Workshops, the resounding answer from everyone was YES!
We Thank You for All You Do!
It is activities like these that make such a difference for our students, and fundraising plays an integral part of ensuring that all our students have a myriad of exciting and enriching opportunities throughout the school year. As such, the Lord Aylmer Home and School would like to thank it's many parents and the Aylmer Community for your continued support during our various fundraising activities. Thank you!
We would also like to thank James Jones for delaying his trip to Iceland so he could perform for our kids and teach them all about his rich Aboriginal culture. For more information about James Jones and his performances, please visit his Website at www.jonesdancer.com