Arts·The Move

Theland Kicknosway is breathing new life into Indigenous dance — and it's healing his entire family

The 16-year-old hoop dancer is carrying on traditions that his parents were denied while offering up his own spin (literally).

The 16-year-old hoop dancer is carrying on traditions that his parents were denied

How do you heal through traditional dance? 16-year-old Theland Kicknosway may have the answer.

As survivors of the Sixties Scoop (a period where thousands of Indigenous kids were taken from their families for placement in foster homes or adoption into white families), Theland's parents were stripped of their cultural understanding and identity from a young age. Now, his mother Elaine Kicknosway works diligently to immerse him in the culture that was denied to her, believing that his understanding of hoop dance elicits pride and healing not only within him, but for the community at large.

In this episode of The Move 3: Kids, Theland teaches us about the origins of hoop dance and shares a move he created called The Spinner, which involves spinning 4-5 hoops simultaneously in a truly beautiful way.

This past decade has been a renaissance for Indigenous art in all forms. While Theland carries the burden of intergenerational trauma, displacement, and the constant threat of loss to oral traditions, language, and culture, he has found a meaningful way to carry forward these traditions for the next generation through dance.

"Revitalizing as much of these dances and carrying on as much of this knowledge and these languages — that's the only way we're going to keep our traditions alive."

The Move 3: Kids features performances from nine of the most incredible young dancers in Canada. Find out more and stream the full series now on CBC Gem.


Lucius Dechausay is a video producer at CBC Arts, as well as a freelance illustrator and filmmaker. His short films and animations have been screened at a number of festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Most recently he directed KETTLE, which is currently streaming at CBC Short Docs.

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