Thursday, November 09, 2006

An 87 Year Old Alaskan Yup'ik Native Dances

The Egan Center in Alaska was packed for the drumming and dance showcase during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. Performers representing Alutiiq, Inupiat, Yup'ik and Southeast Indian traditions took their turns, and then a surprise as 87 year-old Yup'ik Native elder Mary Ann Sundown took the stage to dance. As the beloved "Dance Diva" from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta hobbled onto the stage, bent and slow, cheers from a thousand or more fans shook the roof. She donned her fur headpiece and gripped her dance fans, sitting in a chair to perform. The Alaskan Native elder's coordination, grace, charm, and humor showed throughout her performance. At the end of each song, she struggled to her feet for the final choruses. Her performance included two comic numbers associated with Sundown: the "Mosquito Song," which includes hilarious swatting and itching pantomimes; and the "Cigarette Song." Before leaving, Mary Ann told the crowd in Yup'ik, through a translator, how happy she was to be here.

A slideshow of the 87-year old Yupik elder, Mary Ann Sundown, dancing at AFN Convention is at

See Free Spirit Gallery for beautiful northern artwork.

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