Not a bead of sweat could stick to 15-year-old Trey Rorick on Saturday, Aug. 18 as he thrilled the Haida Heritage Centre Performing House by dancing for one hour, 38 minutes to win the men’s Haida dance competition at the Ḵay Centre’s 10th anniversary.
Cheered by the crowd, and by the songs and drumming of Skidegate’s Hltaaxuulang Gud ad K’aaju / Friends Together Singing, Rorick manage to outlast the legendary Desi Collinson and dance inches from the floor.
“This is the strongest feeling you could ever feel,” said Frank Russ, calling over a crowd that cheered past sunset. “The pride of teaching the next generation is what our culture is all about.”
The Ḵay’s 10th anniversary opened with a well-attended clan march, followed by an offical welcome, a toddler regalia review, storytelling by Ḵung Jaadee, a game of laahal (gambling sticks), a X̱aayda Kil/X̱aad Kil spelling bee, and a fish barbecue before wrapping up with the dance performance and competitions.
Speaking to the significance of the Haida Heritage Centre as a venue for Haida ceremony, Nika Collison, executive director and curator of the Haida Gwaii Museum noted that there are still elders alive today who remember dancing in basements with covered windows during the potlatch ban. By continuing in secret, and by sharing with anthropologists and others who wanted to record Haida traditions, they survived against all odds.
“Thank goodness our ancestors chose to do that,” she said. “That’s why today we can share with you.”
Photos by Andrew Hudson