Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fairy Tales Fire the Imagination

Our imaginations are running rampant this weekend with Halloween, All Saints, and Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

A recent solo fall hike turned my imagination to fairy tales. The best known fairy tales and folk tales began as stories told hundreds of years ago and retold to each new generation. Many fairy tales, especially the ones from Europe, take place in a forest. Maybe Hansel and Gretel dropped bread crumbs in a place like this:

Will the Billy Goats Gruff's troll give me passage across this bridge?

Does a gingerbread house or big bad wolf lurk around this corner?

Is that La Llorona I hear weeping?

The Wizard of Oz is not a true fairy tale; still these trees remind me of the scene where Dorothy and her friends were attacked by the enchanted apple trees:

(Here's the scene, in case you forgot:)

Fairy tales hold some universal appeal to us as human beings in a world we can't control or fully understand. What is your favorite fairy tale or folk tale?

For more on fairy tales, see SurLaLune, the fairy tale website and my book, Once Upon a Time: Fairy Tales in the Library and Language Arts (or see my blog sidebar).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jasmine Pickner, Hoop Dancer: Happy Native American Day!

Jasmine Pickner, world champion hoop dancer.

While many in the US celebrate Columbus Day on Oct. 10, South Dakotans celebrate Native American Day. South Dakota is home to more than 62,000 American Indians, many of whom live on nine reservations within the state. Most belong to the Great Sioux Nation and are also identified by their tribal band and dialect.

I was fortunate to see world champion hoop dancer Jasmine Pickner perform recently at the SD Indian Education Summit. She started at age 7, taught by her grandparents. In this male-dominated field, Pickner uses her hoops to portray the balance of male and female. With her hoops, she creates figures such as dragonflies and eagles.

Before her dance, she talked about her background. At one point in school, she had to choose between basketball hoops and dancing hoops. By then, the dancing hoops were part of her, and she continued to dance. Hoop dancing keeps her true to her culture and herself. When she has to make choices, she thinks about the hoops' representation of balance and life cycles. She says that her hoops keep her on the right path.

In addition to dancing, she now teaches others to hoop dance and gives presentations across the country about native culture where she answers school children's questions such as "Do you eat pilgrims?" and "Do you live in teepees?" Jasmine beautifully sets the record straight.

Enjoy her work in this video from the St. Joseph Indian School Pow Wow video from 2009:

What keeps you on the right path?