Mark Rendell

Chicken Dancer in the Living Room

An intense burst of culture in the middle of a Yellowknife house concert

Twirling, swooping, and stomping here’s Cree dancer Alex Twin, mesmerizing a small Yellowknife crowd with a traditional Chicken Dance at a house concert on Thursday evening.

Alex is a powwow dancer, actor and contemporary dancer originally from Kehewin Reserve, and now living three hours further south in Edmonton. He’s been dancing since he was eight and comes from a family of dancers. His grandfather danced Traditional Style and his cousins dance a variety of powwow styles from Chicken to Fancy.

The dance in this clip is called the Intertribal, a gathering dance that can be done by both men and women. The music is by the Northern Cree Singers, from Maskwacis. He also danced a second, much faster war dance called the Sneak Up.

The Chicken Dance is a mating dance, Alex explained breathlessly after the first dance to the swooning crowd.

“I’m happy to be a lady chicken tonight,” shouted an audience member, to whoops of laughter

The house concert was organized by playwright Reneltta Arluk and her friend, New York singer Renee Benson. Reneltta, Renee and Alex have been in Yellowknife for the past four days running a dance, theatre and song workshop for a local girls club. They’re off to Fort Simpson today to run a workshop, then heading on to Fort Smith.