Tuesday, February 24, 2009

These videos are messing with my mind

As I was killing my brain, watching stupid YouTube videos (waiting for tonight's Daily Show to post) I stumbled upon these two videos. Instead of the intended killing of my brain, it is now all warped out of recognition. I would be interested to hear what non-Tlingits think of these two videos. For the record, I think they're brilliant.

Last summer, Progressive Alaska was kind enough to host a BBQ picnic fundraiser so Celtic Diva and I could get to Denver for the Democratic National Convention. Diane Benson, after taking part in a debate, drove all the way out to the valley (that's Wasilla/Palmer country) to catch the tail end. While there, she roped me into singing, and asked what I wanted to sing.

At first, we couldn't find a common one we both knew - she is from a different area of Southeast than I. But she asked if I knew the song Tsu Héidei Shugaxtutaan. Of course! If you start singing this song in a gathering of Tlingit people, you're bound to get half of them singing with you! It's best in a big crowd of people stuffed into a gymnasium, or concert hall, but she got me singing a bit of a duet with her. Progressive Alaska posted on it later.

The song translates to (as I learned it) "We once again open this box of wisdom that has been left in our care." Though simple, it is a song of responsibility and tradition.

I cannot begin to tell you how these videos turned me upside down with their interpretation of the song and dance. In the first, this artist dances some kind of techno dance (forgive my ignorance) to the traditionally sung song. In the second video, he dances the traditional entrance sort of dance a man would do, but to this techno song.

This is the definition of art. It certainly had an effect on me, using a song and dances, background, etc. that I am quite familiar with in a completely new, yet simple, way. I am interested to hear what people who are not familiar with the traditional song think.


flying fish said...

It was easier for me to watch him doing the techno dance to the traditional music. I didn't like the other one so much, probably because the music wasn't as pleasant. It felt like the techno music was 'getting all over' the dance in the second one. (I'm a non Native woman from Southeast)

Unknown said...

I'm a SE AK Native and former member of the Tsimshian Haayuuk, and the 2nd video absolutely gave me chills.

Tanyalaska said...

I've seen these before and I absolutely loved them. I feel the same as you do about them. I'm Aleut/Inupiaq. Please note that these two videos received Rasmuson awards!

Unknown said...

Good stuff. These kinds of syntheses are good for art.

Elena said...

What a treat...I really enjoyed both. The first is just an interesting synthesis and a new one for me. The second was mezmerizing in a way. The dancer was completely graceful and yet powerful. I really liked the music of the second one - trance inducing and so spare. The costume and background added much to the effect. I would like to see more like this.

Dale said...

Watching these videos, with the use of either non-traditional dance or non-traditional music, really made me focus in on the traditional art, in a way that I might not have if both the dance and the music were traditional.
(I'm a non-Native, living in Iowa)