Edmonton

20-year-old Alexander First Nation hoop dancer to perform at Olympics

Dallas Arcand Jr., a member of the Alexander First Nation, was asked to be a part of the Cultural Olympiad Art Performance Festival as part of the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Dallas Arcand Jr. will perform during the 2018 South Korean Games

Dallas Arcand Jr. is heading to the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang to perform a hoop dance. (Dallas Arcand Jr./Supplied)

In 2010, Dallas Arcand Sr. was hoop dancing on the world's biggest stage — the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Eight years later, his son, Dallas Arcand Jr. is set to hoop dance at his first Olympics.

Arcand Jr., a member of the Alexander First Nation, was asked to be a part of the Cultural Olympiad Art Performance Festival as part of the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Arcand Jr., 20, remembers watching his dad perform at the Olympics. He remembers the atmosphere in Vancouver as unlike anything he'd ever seen.

"When Canada won gold for hockey, it was insane the amount of spirit that was in the city itself," Arcand Jr. told CBC's Radio Active Friday.

Then he performed alongside his dad at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Now, he's performing solo in South Korea and hopes a similar type of spirit he saw in those Olympics will move its way through Pyeongchang when he performs there.

'I felt shocked'

When Arcand Jr. found out he was going to perform at the Olympics, it was something he had hoped for over the years leading up to the games.

"I felt shocked. I felt amazed," he said. A group of Korean delegates who travelled to Canada watched Arcand Jr. perform and asked him to come back the next year. He said as far as he knew, he was the only performer asked to come back for a second time.

"That ultimately [led to] them asking me to come to Korea to showcase the hoop dance," Arcand Jr. said.

Arcand Jr. is performing without his dad for the first time on the Olympic stage. (Dallas Arcand Jr./Supplied)

His invite to the Korean Olympics represented a bit of a torch-passing from his father. "When I found out that only I was going and not Dallas Arcand Sr., I was like, 'About time,' " he said.

He's teaming up with Wendy Walker and Dawn von Arnim, who make up a cappella Cree group Reconciliation to showcase what Alberta is about.

The story Arcand Jr. is telling through his hoop dance centres around a young warrior who has trouble running away from his predators.

He prays to the Creator, who grants him the hoops — which allow him to shapeshift into different animals, like an eagle or a bear.

The journey is an important one to Arcand Jr. — with a little bit of his own journey to hoop dancing on an international stage weaved in. He said he and Reconciliation are hoping to show how important reconciliation is to Indigenous people in Canada and elsewhere.

Arcand Jr. is set to perform on Feb. 10 and 11. (Dallas Arcand Jr./Supplied)

"That's huge in native country," he said. "It brings a lot of national pride to me to be able to bring that across the world and to showcase native culture and to even show the unity between both cultures."

Arcand Jr. is set to perform on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11 in South Korea.

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