Fancy dancer gears up for powwow performances after year lost to COVID-19

As COVID-19 restrictions ease around public and social gatherings, this Calgary fancy dancer is ready to get back to performing live.

Calgary's Kyle Young Pine is ready to hit the powwow circuit again

Fancy Dancer eager to get back out on the powwow trail after a year lost to the pandemic

1 year ago
Duration 1:45
Kyle Young Pine has his regalia back on as COVID-19 restrictions ease around in-person performances.

With restrictions lifting and events starting to take place again, a Calgary Indigenous fancy dancer is ready to go from virtual performances to in-person powwows. 

Kyle Young Pine is gearing up for a live performance, something he hasn't done in a long time. 

"It's very exciting, nervous," he said. "There are so many emotions tied to it because we haven't been able to do it for so long and it's knocking on our door." 

His first performance is an easy crowd: a handful of toddlers and their parents at the Sunalta Community Association in southwest Calgary.

But these small spectators are still a real crowd, and he's not used to that. During the pandemic, Young Pine performed only for a camera, posting his solo performance videos to his social media sites.

"To be able to perform at something like this is — I know these kids are really young, like two to six. Crazy. And if I can do what I do and just sort of explain a little bit of powwow, my culture, where I'm from. If I can sort of hit home with a few of them, I think I've done my job."

Fancy dancer Kyle Young Pine says live powwows are a joyous occasion that provide healing and a sense of community. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

He's feeling more than ready to get back to it, especially in person.

"Powwow is to pray and to heal, to dance for those that can't. It brings so much goodness into this world," he said, adding it's important for the dancers as well as the audience.

"People need to be at powwow," he said. "Sometimes things don't go right in your life and it's that mental health aspect where once you go to a powwow, you're sort of rejuvenated. You have more energy after, and I totally believe that."

The live performance would be a good warm-up for upcoming in-person powwows that Young Pine plans to attend this summer.

Before COVID-19, Young Pine spent summers travelling across the Prairies and into the United States to compete. This year, things are just starting to open up again.

Kainai First Nation in southern Alberta is scheduled to go ahead with its Pow Wow and Celebration in September. 

And next month, Young Pine is planning to compete at the Samson Cree Nation Pow wow in Maskwacis. 

"It's really exciting to be back," he said.

"I guess it's just surreal to pick up again where I was before the pandemic, and I guess it's a lot to take in, because it's something I'm so passionate about. And it's been something I've been dreaming of, and now that the moment's here, it's like, 'Oh I kind of got to act now.'"

With files from Terri Trembath