Virus Doesn’t Stop Yup’ik Dancing

May 8, 2020

Credit Pamyua and KYUK

Cama-i, the annual Alaska Native festival that brings dance groups and Elders into Bethel, was canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but COVID-19 did not stop the community from dancing.

It takes more than a virus to stop drums and dance. Unable to celebrate together in one space with friends and fans, KYUK teamed up with the two Blanchett brothers, Phillip and Stephen of the Inuit music group Pamyua, to figure out how to use technology to bring people together to dance. They decided to use a song recorded by Pamyua and the Alaska Native Heritage Center High School Dance troupe many years before COVID-19 arrived in Alaska.

With the music guiding them, some dancers headed out to the ice and tundra to dance. Some danced in their living rooms, some in the front yard, some with family, but many alone. A film emerged where they all joined in one glorious song and commitment to a way of life that spans centuries here in the Arctic.

You can see it all and dance along on the KYUK Facebook page, or by watching the video below: