Tag Archive for Dallas Arcand

Dallas Arcand’s Hoop Dancing Circular Life

DallasArcand by Natalie Kane

The circle, the spiral. Our dance partners help us spin little metaphors about our struggles and triumphs which many of us can’t otherwise express. The circle reinforces that life is a beautiful cycle, ever flowing and changing, one in which everything is connected. Each day scientists and spiritual leaders alike discover more evidence to support this too. Even the smallest actions have immeasurable impacts on the circle of life, just as the subtlest nuance in one movement ripples through one’s own body and hoop, affecting the entire dance.

Native American hoop dance preceded this art we’ve grown to love by decades, yet some hoopers haven’t heard of it. It’s a beautiful and powerful art form that has long symbolized our beginning and our relationship to Earth. As one historian put it, “The Native American hoop dancer becomes a counselor with the hoops representing a circle that returns each problem back to the responsibility of its creator.” Each performance tells a different part of this story as dancers manipulate one to numerous hoops to resemble different animals, the Earth itself, even the personifications of various values. Some performers tell this story so captivatingly, one can’t help but be absorbed. Dallas Arcand is one of them.

A three-time World Champion Hoop Dancer, Arcand was born in Edmonton and is a registered member of the Alexander (kipohtakaw) Cree nation, located 30 km northwest of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. The indigenous hoop dancer travels the world spreading appreciation for hoop dance while teaching people of all backgrounds about the importance of this tradition and how to practice it. In fact, he recently gave an incredible TEDx Talk and performance that’s not to be missed.

There are a few differences between the type of hoop dancing many of us are familiar with and Dallas’ traditional art, but not only can we learn from them, we can also see that the core message is often the same. No matter what your style of hoop dance or how you found the circle, I spoke with Arcand to hear more of his timeless wisdom about what living a circular life means for all of us.

Natalie: Dallas, how long have you been hoop dancing?

Dallas: I’ve been hoop dancing since I was 14 years old and I’m 36 now so that’s about 22 years.

Natalie: Why did you decide to learn hoop dance and what’s the driving force behind your art?

Dallas: I decided to hoop dance when I was introduced to it by my high school friend Joe Chatsis. I decided to learn because I was fascinated by the hoops, and I loved the magic of the hoop dance. Then I took it upon myself to learn this art form and it has transformed me into an independent, self sufficient, modern day warrior. The driving force behind the North American indigenous hoop dance is our culture and belief in the great spirit because originally, our hoop dance was a healing / ceremonial dance. So when I dance, I have my own trance/ceremony that I dance to for the people to help bring balance and harmony to the world. And that’s what spins my hoops!

Hoop-Dallas-Arcand-615x527 Natalie: When did you start dancing competitively?

Dallas: I started dancing competitively in my teens and at the time I was fortunate enough to start to make a living at it when I was very young. I was able to average an income of $3000 per month just on dancing and performing at powwows, festivals, and performances. I came from a poor family, so having these means did miracles for my career in helping me move forward, to eventually travel the world and much of the continent.

Natalie: You won your first championship in 2006 and have now earned three, the most recent in 2012. What was that like?

Dallas: Winning the world championships for me was the beginning of the end for me. It was like climbing a mountain and looking around at all the other peaks. It has opened up my eyes to the endless possibilities that could be achieved through arts and culture. Art is a lie about the truth, and culture is the truth about our way of life. Since the three world championships, the hoop dance momentum and fame has allotted me time to pursue my musical career and lifestyle and since then I have released five albums of indigenous contemporary music (available on iTunes).

Natalie: In what context do you dance right now?

Dallas: I travel as an aboriginal entertainer in which I utilize music, dance, visual art, and indigenous culture to teach people about our history and philosophy. I also get opportunities to speak at different venues such as graduation ceremonies, awards, schools, universities, and cultural gatherings across the country.

Natalie: You speak widely about many diverse topics, from humans’ role in nature, to the power of music, to personal development. How do you feel these topics interconnect to help the young people you work with?

Dallas: I believe that young people in our communities need a holistic education that pertains to their cultural values and inner personal development. So, it is our leaders’ responsibility to bring these tools and things that we’ve learned back into our community. Teach our future generation the tricks of our trades and art. These consist of things that we learned on our own journey and mistakes. By doing this, we can prepare the future generations for their life journeys. That’s how we keep the circle strong.

Natalie: Where has your art taken you around the world?

Dallas: My art landed me a contract in Spain at Universal Studios Mediterranea dancing in a show for eight months. I’ve been to Holland, as well, five years in a row to perform at the Western Experience. In 2002, I went to Hong Kong to perform. I’ve been to many places in the USA, and also had the opportunity to perform in Oslo, Norway; Cancun, Mexico; and in England at the 2012 Olympics.

Hoop Dancer Dallas Arcand performing at Calgary Stempede Natalie: Do you have a favorite place to dance, and what makes it great?

Dallas: I first and foremost love to perform at powwows because that’s my home for the hoop dance in its rightful place. ❤ Secondly, I love to perform my music and dances at festivals because the people love it and need the love that we put in to it. I also really enjoy performing in schools for kids because they really listen and learn from a real-life experience that comes from the teaching and performing hoop dance. That’s where my art is most appreciated and a useful educational tool.

Natalie: How does hoop dance affect you and its other practitioners?

Dallas: Hoop dance has provided me a lifestyle, and I always try my best to uphold that. I love to live circular; :) it makes the most sense. Hoop dance gives me a reason to wake up in the mornings, to go for a jog and start my day out with a workout and stretch, as well as a couple of hoop “dancercises.” Many of my hoop dancer friends have had prosperous lives because of the hoop dance giving them opportunities to perform for celebrities, in popular music videos, music festivals, the Olympics, Cirque du Soleil, the Calgary Stampede, and many aboriginal tourism hotspots across the country.

Natalie: Do you have a particular performance that sticks out in your mind? What made it so memorable?

Dallas: The 2012 Calgary stampede has to be the one performance that I will never forget. In 2012, I got to be one of the stars of the evening grandstand show. It was probably one of the biggest budget / audiences I’ve ever performed for. Every night there was a sold out crowd of 25,000 people, and I got to fly on an eagle towards the audience and then jump off to perform my hoop dance with 28 hoops. Fireworks. pryotechnics, you name it! They had everything, and that has been the highlight of my career. Absolutely amazing!

Natalie: What do you want your legacy to be; what do you want to be able to tell future generations about your generation?

Dallas: For future generations, I am recording all that I’ve done in my career and publishing it in a book and documentary about my life. I also have plans to make a museum and cultural center in my community to have a collage and public display of art connections to where the hoop dance has taken me in my life journey as a hoop dancer. Part of my plan is to show future generations the power of the hoop dance in what it can do for you and where it can connect you to in other art disciplines. Who knew that being a hoop dancer means that you have to be a tailor or a seamstress and a designer/ engineer to pioneer the proper hoops and designs to use while dancing this sacred but contemporary style of hoop dancing?

We want the future generations to embrace this circular way of living in balance with everything, living as a master of all the trades and tricks necessary for survival in life. I also plan to construct a ‘hoop dancer sculpture’ that will be holding a ‘globe’ aligned with the sun in medicine wheel (circle of rocks with four quadrants). It will be built from stone and steel to last for generations.

Natalie: What issues of our era do you want to see {or create} solutions for in your lifetime?

Dallas: The only issue I see presently in our society is that not enough people are connected to their roots, extending to the earth and the universe. Not enough people work the land anymore; therefore, we have lost our connection to the earth. Like the little worker bee that makes the honey in the hive, we have to strive to do our part to be in balance with the earth and universe.

Natalie: What advice would you give young hoop dancers just starting out?

Dallas: My advice to young aspiring hoopers is for you to stay true to your art and visions. Master your style and art to your perfection. Become one with the hoop, and discover its power and energies. Research your art; know your craft inside and out. With passion, patience, and persistence, your art will shine.

Natalie: Finally, is there a message you most hope to spread with your art?

Dallas: My message to the universe is that we are all connected through the circle to all living things, and within the circle is the energy of life that connects us all. We must live in balance with our own cultures and the rest of the world. We all have to balance between worlds and continue to move in a circle. Hi-hi kinanaskomtin {Thank you}.


Natalie Kane Contributor, Pyromaniac and GIS analyst Natalie Kane helps young, aspiring travelers launch the lifestyle of their dreams and elevate the world through her website Kinetic Karuna. She hoop dances with the Dogtown Hoop Mafia in Richmond, Virginia, USA, and founded FloWiTheJames to clean up the James River. Her passions include environmental conservation, exploration, yoga, self-sufficiency and gettin’ silly in her circle. She’s on Facebook.

Dallas Arcand: Hoop Dance 101

Dallas Arcand Angelika Gawronski of Shaw TV in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, recently did a profile on Dallas Arcand, the three-time World Champion Hoop Dancer and she learned a lot about the nature and basics of aboriginal/native hoop dance along the way. “Hoop dance has been here for around 1200 years,” Dallas explains. “Originally the hoop dancing was a ceremony that our ancestors used to help restore balance and harmony in the world.” Later on he also tells Angelika, “Some say that the hoops had healing powers themselves,” and with all of the testimonials and transformations we’ve seen over the years we’re whole heartedly inclined to believe that is still very much the case. The soundtrack used here is “The Real Hey Ya” by Northern Cree and it’s available on iTunes.

Derrick Suwaima Davis Wins 2013 World Champion Hoop Dancer Title

Derrick Suwaima Davis The 23rd Annual Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest recently took place again in Phoenix, Arizona, and hoop dancers came from all over the United States and Canada to compete for the ultimate title of becoming World Hoop Dance Champion. It’s a pretty big deal not only to receive the highest honor from your community and peers, but the first place prize also comes with a $3,500 cash award and this year that incredible honor went to Derrick Suwaima Davis (Hopi/Choctaw) who won this year for an unprecedented sixth time! Davis last captured the World Champion title back in 2010 and this year he returned to Phoenix and danced himself right into the winner’s circle all over again. Check out his award winning hoop dance performance below:

With a score of 235 points, Davis came in ten points ahead of the amazingly talented Tony Duncan who earned the World Champion title for himself back in 2011, while Kevin Dakota Duncan placed 3rd this year with 215 points. The Duncan brothers were very high profile this year in part as the result of the appearance in Nelly Furtado’s Big Hoops music video. Watch their second and third place performances below:

Dallas Arcand Hoop Dances For Life

Dallas Arcand from Routes Magazine

Dallas Arcand in Routes Magazine

“My dance is my life – it’s what I believe in and what I know best,” World Champion Hoop Dancer Dallas Arcand recently told Routes Magazine. In an interview following his performance with his son Dallas Bobby Arcand Gladeau at the 25th Anniversary of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a buffalo jump located where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains begin to rise from the prairie northwest of Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a Blackfoot cultural museum, Arcand explained, “It’s the story of our people and an appreciation of the land and Mother Earth. The goal is to restore balance and harmony in the world.”

Dallas took some time finding his own balace and harmony. Along the way he dabbled in confusion, anger and crime, but once he found his path he committed himself to solid ground and high ideals. Arcand explained, “I hope I can be a shining light for my people. For me there’s a lot of integrity in that.” And now, with his 25 hoops in motion, he continues to create and innovate. “I am constantly creating new pieces of art through music, through dance, even in teaching my son to be a good person.” His son, 14, is following in his father’s footsteps as a passionate hoop dancer. “Teaching my son my craft means a lot to me, it keeps the circle going. I tell him the best thing you can do is show up on time, know your craft, be the best you can be and stay true to who you are and what you stand for.” Arcand, who also composes music and plays traditional cedar flute, also recently released his fourth CD Sacred Sweetgrass.

The Power of the World Works in Circles

Dallas Arcand, who recently became the World Hoop Dance Champion and is currently making headlines on Canada’s Got Talent spoke with the Indian Country Today Media Network. “The hoop can represent the passage of life, the seasons, the four cardinal directions and the circle of Native community, among many other things,” he explained. For Dallas Arcand, it represents life on every scale. “Look under a microscope and scientists see all those cells, and those are circles that each and every one of us is made up of.”