The Thunder Mountain Singers recently showcased the different traditional dance styles during their Where the Thunderbirds Fly performance at Magnus Theatre in Thunder Bay.
“This is a production that was a little bit more intimate with the audience — we were able to focus a lot more on the stories and the dances,” said Dave Wilkinson-Simard, one of the founding members of the Thunder Mountain Singers. “And regarding some of the songs, we could do a little bit more of the historical end of the songs. So it’s a little bit different way of doing a presentation regarding our culture.”
The Jan. 11-12 performance featured the Thunder Mountain Singers and a number of traditional dancers, including woodlands, grass, chicken, traditional men’s, traditional women’s, jingle dress and fancy shawl styles. The show also featured regalia designs by Shannon, Lisa and Ethel Gustafson, photography by Lulu Boshkaykin, narration and artwork by Elliott Doxtator-Wynne and flute music by Ron Kanutski.
“We’re here to help educate people in a different manner,” Simard said. “And it’s a good opportunity for people to learn about dancing on a stage, it’s a different way of sharing your stories and it’s a really positive way for young people to get involved in theatre.”
Simard said the performance paid tribute to the dancers and singers and song makers who contributed to the Thunder Mountain Singers’ latest album, Where the Thunderbirds Fly.
“It’s also to tell a story about the drum group and some of the history about where we come from, how we came about this name and some of the things we have been able to do over the years,” Simard said. “The (Magnus Theatre) venue is a really nice place to work from and the production crew here are really easy to work with. This is our second time working with them and we had an opportunity to share our stories in a different light, other than just doing it at powwows and doing it through classroom presentations.”
The Thunder Mountain Singers are currently working on a couple of projects with Rodney Brown and Classic Roots. They are also looking forward to an upcoming film project with Thunderstone Pictures and a future album.
The Thunder Mountain Singers have recorded numerous albums, including the award-winning album One Voice One Nation, and have travelled to and performed at many powwows across North America over the past 20 years.
The group received their drum name from the late Margaret Pierre, who had the vision that First Nation youth would return to their traditional culture through the drum.
The news that the graves of 215 children had been discovered near the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia came as shock to me...