Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Glacier Valley's Tlingit Dance and Drum Group

Proud members of Glacier Valley's Tlingit Dance and Drum Group
Last week, over seventy Glacier Valley students in 1st through 5th grades proudly entered the gymnasium to share with the school community what they've been learning in Tlingit Dance and Drum Group.  Thanks to funding from the Association of Alaska School Board's Initiative for Community Engagement (Alaska ICE) and the Juneau School District At-Risk Music grant, Glacier Valley teachers were able to sponsor this after-school group for an hour, each week.

The Tlingit Dance and Drum group is the newest addition to JAMM whose mission is to "develop neighborhood programs that create community pride, partnership and active participation."  JAMM also supports the growth of culturally relevant music and is thrilled that Hans Chester and Glenda Lindley can share their Alaska Native heritage as the club's sponsors.  As the number of students in the club grew, Janalynn Ferguson jumped in to help. 

These Glacier Valley teachers have kindly written a summary sharing the club's semester highlights:

The original plan was to build a dance group at Glacier Valley of about 25 or so students; two months later we have 72 members who meet every Tuesday after school to drum, (sing) and dance.  These students feel content to be in a place that is familiar, doing something they love to do, to the beat of the drum.  The drum being a source of power that draws students, in a nurturing way. 
Our members are currently putting together their lineage so that the songs we sing represent the member's rightful ownership.  Students are learning who they are by looking at where they came from.
Starting in January, we plan to meet twice a week and begin to put together a more formal performance presentation.  Members will learn how to introduce themselves, the songs they sing in Tlingit, as well as the history of the songs we are using.  We will also look at regalia needs and figure out how to fill the gaps for all members.
On January 14th, 9:00 - 1:00 p.m., we have invited the dance group families and Glacier Valley staff to help make 25 drums for the dance group and Glacier Valley.  This is a tall order for members so we are counting on family, friends and community to get the drums made.
The Tlingit Drum and Dance group has already grown past our initial expectation!  That suggests an opportunity to recognize the need and to provide for a larger membership.  How exciting.
Hans Chester, Glenda Lindley, and Janalynn Ferguson 
More members prepare for their entrance into the Glacier Valley gym

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