The Dance Centre: Discover Dance! Series

V’ni Dansi’s Louis Riel Métis Dancers

When & Where Thursday November 18 at 12 noon | Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St.

Reviewer Christian Steckler

What a joy it was to attend this heartwarming show of fiddle and guitar music accompanying the talented company of Metis dancers in their high-energy performance of jigs and square dancing at this special event!

The four dancers: Yvonne, Jeanette, Edward, and Evan repeatedly surprised the audience. With their fancy footwork exhibiting exceptional coordination and imaginative variations, confounded with speed and complication. The musicians, fiddler Kathleen and guitarist Matt, delighted the ear, and energized the dancers, at times challenging them with faster and faster beats.

The famous Red River Dance opened the performance. The audience learned along the way that Metis dancing is a blend of First Nations, Irish, Scottish, English and Scandinavian dances, especially jigs. Their performance of a sash dance evoked impressions of a Scottish sword dance, for example. A rollicking rendition of a colourfully costumed square dance that continued the artistic variations in formations and steps was a highlight. The inexhaustible group relished the challenges, smiling more and more as the dance and the music-generated challenges continued.

Metis dancing is widespread in Canada. Metis communities have handed down the joy of dancing to fiddle music for generations. Families teach toddlers, grandparents encourage grandchildren, brothers and sisters teach their siblings, elders set up community classes, and the tradition moves forward, with added innovations in each generation. All of the dancers in this group learned this way, and were motivated to extend their joy in dance to other forms - ballet, modern dance, and so on.

The warm, intimate, loving family-and-community spirit that these dancers shared with the audience taught us a lot. The performance, so close on the heels of the anniversary of the illegal execution of Louis Riel, was a poignant reminder that there is meaning and value in the traditions of our Metis brothers and sisters, not the least of which is the open acceptance and possibility of joyful love between members of different cultures.

© 2021 Christian Steckler