Welcome to Dancing with the Spirit!
Dancing with the Spirit is a project to connect youth and elders through music. The Rev. Trimble Gilbert from Arctic Village says "in the old days, we fought tribal wars with arrowheads. It's a different type of war now - against drugs and alcohol. I believe we can win with music." Music can bring joy, hope, and love to villages struggling with alcoholism, drugs, and suicide. Music builds confidence, self-esteem, and the closeness of family. Students can spend hours and hours playing guitars and fiddles, singing and dancing. Alaska's first visitors - explorers, the Hudson Bay Company, missionaries, and whalers - brought fiddles, guitars, banjos, and mandolins. Indians and Eskimos have taken this music and developed their own style. In almost every community, elders play and sing and would like to pass on through music--their culture, their respect for the land and its animals, and their values.
This project is modeled on a 4H Bluegrass and Old-time Music and Dance Camp that has been held in Cordova, Alaska for the past 17 summers. Over the past five years- through funding that has come to the Alaska Diocese of the Episcopal Church plus schools and tribal councils - we’ve funded 12 summer camps and 42 weeks of school programs in villages. Youth have a chance to take classes in fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and bass - plus be in bands. It has been great success - and youth and elders are hoping that a year-round program can begin and spread to other villages with the energy of young Native bands. One village can teach another, building strong communities and helping to prevent alcoholism, drugs, and suicide. The Dancing with the Spirit staff will document the program and package it so that it can be easily duplicated nationally and internationally. With your help and prayers Dancing with the Spirit can spread worldwide!