Program includes student workshops and free public performance
Each year the Arts Council of Big Sky brings a culturally rich artist to Big Sky for a multi-day residence in collaboration with the Big Sky School District. During their time at school, the artist works with a partner teacher to deliver two days of workshops that aim to help students build a deeper, authentic understanding of diverse cultures through the arts.
This year’s Artist in Residence is World Champion Hoop Dancer Jasmine Pickner Bell, or Cunku Was’te Win’, meaning “Good Road Woman,” in Dakota. A member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (also known as Hunkpati Oyate), Jasmine is the first woman to hold the hoop dancing Champion title. Jasmine realized her calling when tragedy struck and her brother, also a talented hoop dancer, was killed in a car accident. In honor of his life, she trained and performed in his place at the World Championship Hoop Dance Competition. She won, becoming the first woman to hold the title and compete in a dress (up until that point, many female hoop dancers still performed in traditional male attire). The following year she defended her title. And now she is proud to say, more women have entered the field and wear their traditional dress, not men’s attire.
The hoop dance has been described as the renewal of the collective human spirit. It is a dance of healing, connectedness, and prayer. Even though Jasmine is in constant spinning motion while she dances, she never finds herself dizzy because she is aligned with a higher purpose. As she’s passing each hoop through her body, she says, “Your prayers are being connected and lifted up. You’re not only telling a story through the designs of the hoop dance, but you’re also praying and healing the people who are in need at that time.”
For the school workshops, Jasmine will be collaborating with 9th and 10th graders in Kate Riley and Jeremy Harder’s classes. Education is central to her mission. From teaching kids and ensuring native traditions are not lost in today’s society, to bringing her audience on stage with her after her performances, she loves to share the hoop dance with everyone. As Jasmine says, “When you get done hoop dancing with me, you’re going to feel better. You’re going to go home and have a story to tell. You’re going to be able to share that story with your friends and family.”
In addition to the educational workshops there will be an in-school performance and a free, public performance at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, December 6, at 7:30 p.m. Please join us in celebrating this inspirational and important artform.