Since Grade 4, Patrick Dobslaff has been learning and perfecting his hoop dancing moves.
Now in Grade 11, the Seaton student can be found in the school’s commons area practising with Grade 8 Seaton student Cameron Fraser-Monroe.
“I got into it because my Grade 4 teacher suggested it as a way of connecting with my aboriginal heritage,” said Patrick. “Now it’s kind of like riding a bike, it’s something you do — it’s a part of me.”
His mom, Denise, is Cherokee and said the hoop dancing is a great way of connecting her son to his heritage.
Former instructor Sandra Miller now acts as the group’s mentor and they have also been taught by world champion hoop dancer Dallas Arcand. Dancers work with anywhere from one to six hoops, which are made of PVC piping, wooden dowels and tape.
“Patrick now has the right to use up to 20 hoops,” said Denise.
French immersion student Cameron started hoop dancing as a Grade 6 student at Harwood elementary school, after seeing Patrick dance at a demonstration at school.
“I’ve been dancing since I was three, but this was quite different — hoops are something I’d never done before,” he said. “Most people say it’s like juggling but not as hard.
“And I’ve stuck with it because it has been a great way to connect with my First Nations family who lives in Vancouver.
“And Patrick and I are quite different in that we dance as a group — hoop dancing is often a solitary thing.”
For now, it’s a fun activity, not something they do competitively. While there is a world championships of hoop dancing held in Phoenix, Ariz. every year, they’re happy just dancing and learning new routines, performing for their peers at school.
Students in Grade 6 and up who are interested in joining the group are invited to tryouts on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in the Seaton commons area.
“We want to get some younger people to join and we will teach them,” said Cameron, who is now in Grade 8. “We understand this is kind of intimidating — we were learning from a world champion and he makes us work hard.”
With support from the Aboriginal Education Department of the Vernon School District, hoop dancing is also open to students who are homeschooled.
For more information about hoop dancing in the Vernon School District, please contact Dobslaff at email@example.com