Sunday, June 24, 2012
20 years old, Shandien grew up in a close-knit family on a Hopi reservation near Flagstaff, Arizona. Her older brother Nakotah started hoop dancing at age 4, on a pow wow trail with older family members. When he was around 10 years old, he taught Shandien, and their younger brother Cree, to dance, and they began performing & competing with him at pow wows.
By the time Shandien was a teenager, Nakotah was making a name for himself in hoop dancing, winning major competitions year after year, and Shandien stepped back from it. But when he signed on with Cirque du Soleil, Shandien rekindled her interest in the art form, and started practicing, on her own. It wasn't long before Cirque tapped her for the role.
The Native American performers in Totem have a delicate and important role to fill. As representatives of their traditional culture and religion, they try to showcase the unique beauty of their music and dance, without cheapening it or misrepresenting it.
Shandien, in the meantime, says she loves being on the Totem tour. The best parts: meeting new people, having new experiences, traveling, seeing the world. She does miss her home, family, and pets (4 dogs and a cat!) and she plans to start working towards a college degree online, with art school as an eventual destination.
This past week I got to watch Shandien perform as a soloist in Hoop Dancer 1 - she is now in rotation to do this once or twice a week - and she's shining out there!
Posted by Shana at 7:25 PM