Tiny hoop dancer inspires her mom to dance

Mother and daughter Kelly Chinchilla and Rylee Sandberg celebrate their Anishinabe culture through dance.

Tiny hoop dancer inspires her mom to dance

8 years ago
Duration 1:49
Rylee Sandberg starting dancing just after she started walking. She wasn't even two years old when her mom, Kelly Chinchilla, took her to pow wow club

Rylee Sandberg starting dancing just after she started walking. She wasn't even two years old when her mom, Kelly Chinchilla, took her to pow wow club.

"I didn't grow up around pow wows or anything, pretty much anything to do with First Nations culture," said the 26-year-old mother. "Once I had Rylee, I wanted that for her. I wanted her to have a strong identity."

The mother and daughter will be dancing together at Aboriginal Day celebrations at The Forks in June. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)
Chinchilla said her daughter gravitated to the hoops. So for her fourth birthday, she got a set of her own.

"It's a medicine dance," said Chinchilla. "It represents life. The shapes that are made is everything that exists in creation."

Rylee, who is now five, dances with 13 hoops and makes all kinds of shapes. "Caterpillar, eagle, butterfly, jet," said the hoop dancer.

Sandberg is shy if you ask her questions, but not when she is dancing. She will be performing with her mom at The Forks for Aboriginal Day. Chinchilla started dancing after her daughter.

"I was a single mom taking her around everywhere, and I was always just sitting off on the side," she said. "I kind of felt like the drum was pulling me, the pow wow circle. I started wanting to dance."

Chinchilla said she had a dream where she saw regalia for the fancy shawl dance.

"For a lot of First Nations people, dreams are really important. They guide us, they tell us certain things we need to know; they help our spirit," she said.
After one year of dancing, Rylee Sandberg dances with 13 hoops. (Jillian Taylor)

She followed her dream and made the regalia. She's been dancing fancy shawl for more than two years.

Chinchilla said the story of the dance is a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. "I relate to that story because I guess I blossomed, you could say, through my cultural reconnection."

She said dancing has made her more confident and it's taught her to live in a positive way.

Chinchilla loves dancing with her daughter and sharing their First Nations culture.

"I feel like she is my little duckling following me," she said. "It feels really special because she's following in my footsteps, literally, and I am that role model for her."

The mother daughter/duo will be dancing on the cultural stage at 1:30 and 4:30 on Saturday at The Forks.


Jillian Taylor

CBC Reporter

Jillian Taylor has been with CBC Manitoba since 2012 and has been working as a journalist for nearly 15 years. She was born and raised in Manitoba and is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. In 2014, she was awarded the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's travel bursary, which took her to Australia to work with Indigenous journalists. Find her on Twitter: @JillianLTaylor