March 25, 2014

Cama-i Dance Festival

This weekend, I had the opportunity to go to Bethel to experience the yearly 
Cama-i Dance Festival
And what an awesome experience it was! 
The week leading up to the festival, everyone kept saying how much fun I was going to have, all the cool things I was going to see, and they were right!

(I got so many compliments on my qaspaq - which I was so surprised since there were so many there! At least I'm dressing the part!)

We got into Bethel around 4 pm Friday evening. Just enough time to get settled at the District Office (our home for the next two nights) and go out to eat at a really good restaurant, VIP. Of course, I always have to get something I haven't eaten awhile. Hence, the reason I got "The Eagle Burger". A burger with jalapenos, onions, pepper jack cheese - can you say YUM?! Plus, an order of curly fries. It was heaven!
There is something to say about a good ole burger and fries.

After we got back to the District Office, we decided to head over to the high school since that's where the festival was being held.
Luckily, the high school is connected to the D.O. by a boardwalk so all weekend we didn't have to pay for taxis back and forth. 

Each day the festival had a jam-packed schedule.

We wanted to be back at 9 because the Hoop Dancers caught our attention. 
They were actually a group from the Lakota tribe.
They did a really good job and it was amazing to see them jump through those hoops and connect them the way they did.

At the beginning of the act, the speaker started out with a presentation how each person is one being. 

That person is by him/herself until they decide to share their life with another person. They then become connected.

And when that happens, it doesn't take long until they decide it's time to bring another human being into the mix.

It was here that he said, "You'll notice that this shape is one of happiness. For one it looks like Mickey Mouse. No one can be unhappy looking at Mickey Mouse. But it also represents a water molecule. Water sustains life." His point with this presentation was the everyone and everything is connected. We are all part of this world and we need to respect and take care of our home.

After his presentation, they then began their dance. Like I said, they did some really neat things with those hoops.

I really liked their performance, but I was so ready to see some Yupik dancing! The Emmonak dancers were the first ones of the weekend that we saw.

From the schedule, you notice that the festival lasted until at least midnight.
We stayed till 11 pm. 
The next morning we decided to have a lazy morning.
It was nice since the festival didn't start until later, so we I slept in till about 10 or so. We decided to grocery shop and go eat lunch. YUM - I had supreme nachos! Haven't had Mexican in so long - one of my faves!

We then went back because the Chevak dancers were performing. We had heard that this group was the ones we needed to see - and they didn't disappoint.

It makes it a lot more entertaining to watch when the whole group gets into the dancing. Although there are always one or two that stick out. In this group, there was one kick butt woman who gave such attitude when she was dancing. I wish I could have met her!

See what I mean?
^^ I mean, look at the fierce expression!

Like I mentioned earlier, each year they have a few groups that are not of Yupik culture. They even bring an international group to Bethel each year. This year they were a group from China.
They were a really great group to watch. They even had the traditional lions out which were pretty cool to watch. Mainly, the women put on a few dances that were very elegant.

Ever since we came up here, I have loved Yupik babies. Oh my goodness - they have the cutest faces and the biggest cheeks. You can't help but to fall in love when you see one.
That is why when this little girl sat in front of us and was playing peek-a-boo with Matthew and I - 

And when I saw this little girl dressed up in the traditional outfit clearly enjoying herself - 

I immediately texted Josh stating how I wanted one. He wasn't the least bit surprised since I've only been talking about it for eight months now.

One of the last performances I attended was The Heart of the Drums.

This is where each person that drummed throughout the festival stood up around the gymnasium and on stage.

The point of the Heart of the Drums performance was that each person has something that they need help with from the Lord.
It was with these drums that we got to chant, yell, and drum so that the Lord heard us.
And believe me, the speaker wouldn't stop unit everyone was on their feet chanting and screaming.

I felt like that was a good place to end my Cama-i experience since I cleansed my soul and gave it all up to the LORD.

Every performance I witnessed, and I'm sure the ones I didn't, were fantastic.
Along with the names of each performance, they also put up quotes that they thought went along with each performance and should be recognized. This whole experience out here has really changed my perspective on things and I thought some of these quotes were just too good not to share with you all!

^^ This one really struck me.

But please, if you give me a chance to do some shopping, you know I'll take it.
I mentioned throughout this post how there weren't just performances at the festival, but also arts and crafts. I saw so many things out of spotted seal - hats, slippers, earrings! I really liked them too. They stretched the intestine of the seal to look like a drum. So neat!
I saw traditional basket weaving which was just so incredibly beautiful.
Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of these, because the tables were packed together and I didn't feel right just taking pictures, getting in the way, when people only wanted to shop. I chose to opt out of being the crazy camera lady - at least there!

But of course I'll show you my goodies! 

I got another qaspaq! I told you I was looking to buy another one! If you know me at all, how could I possibly pass up a green one?!

 Notice this one has a skirt!

I also purchased some muskox earrings made out of tusk. How adorbs! 

It was such a great weekend! What made it even better was that our flight back to Newtok left early! That never happens! 

I would love to have Joshua come to the festival - maybe next year! 
And who knows? Maybe one of you guys will make the trek up here to experience all this for yourself, too!

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