Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog

Accentuating Tlingit Traditions

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The “Weavers’ Dance”

June 24th, 2013 by Clarissa

Ravenstail robe “Grandmother’s Time” woven by Ann Smith, Whitehorse, Yukon danced by her son Shawn Smith, and a Chilkat robe “Diving Whale Lovebirds” woven by Clarissa Rizal, Juneau, Alaska, danced by fellow artist Wayne Price.  They were both “hired” to dance the robes with the “Weavers’ Dance” on Sunday, June 23rd during the Adaka Festival main stage.

Ann Smith carefully adjusts her son Shawn Smith’s collar of “Grandmother’s Time” Ravenstail robe

A couple days before the “coming out” of four woven robes that were in the Adaka Art Exhibit, Crystal Rogers and I were in the Elder’s room (where the weaving class was held during the Adaka Festival); I was playing with the warp stick using it like a walking cane pretending i was an old old elder – then I began to dance with it like a man holding a dance staff and wouldn’t it be fun if all of us weavers had one of these and danced with it like this – suddenly Crystal excitedly exclaimed: “…no, let’s hold it like a woman, soft and demure as if we are holding a precious item in our hand…” – we were so dead set on doing this during the “coming in” dance of the woven robes that we asked Ann Smith if her son could make enough warp sticks for all the weavers…and so was born the use of the warp sticks during the “coming out” dance of the woven robes…!

Clarissa adjusts the closure of Crystal Rogers’ “Eagle Raven” button blanket (a collaboration of two artists: design by Preston Singletary, hand-sewn by Clarissa Rizal

“Grandmother’s Time”, “Copper Child” (collaboration Lily Hope and Clarissa Rizal) and “Eagle Raven”

Front views of all three…

The following photos are of Whitehorse’s weaving class members dancing the “weavers’ dance…”

Ravenstail and Chilkat weavers with their “warp sticks” – a hand-made wooden stick with notches to measure the warp yarns for a dance robe or dance apron – these sticks were fashioned after the late Jennie Thlunaut’s warp stick

Thank you very much, Everett Smith, for crafting an additional 10 wooden warp sticks with short notice of two days so we may dance the “weavers’ dance!”

While the narrator introduces the next song, the dancers keep their backs to the audience waiting for the next dance song to begin

The “Raven” robe on the right is also designed by Preston Singeltary and sewn by Clarissa Rizal

Clarissa’s “Diving Whale Lovebirds” Chilkat robe danced by Wayne Price is dead center stage…

“Diving Whale Lovebirds” Chilkat robe and 4-piece Ravenstail ensemble “Copper Child”

“Weavers’ Dance” with our warp sticks made by Ann Smith’s son, Everett Smith – there were 13 of us – lucky number….!

“Weavers’ Dance”…

Wayne Price in Chilkat robe, Tristin Primozic in 4-piece Ravenstail ensemble, and Shawn Smith in Ravenstail robe

Tristin Primozic of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations is a member of the Wolf moeity and he is a young song leader in training with the Dahka Khwaan Juniors Dance Group.  He is wearing “Copper Child”, the 4-piece Ravenstail ensemble woven by Lily Hope and Clarissa Rizal.

After the Weavers’ Dance, outside in front of the cultural center for a photo shoot for the local newspaper

Backside of dancers with robes…the fourth robe on the far left was woven by Ann Smith, danced by Ravenstail and Chilkat weaver Charlene Baker

And thank you to all our models for dancing our robes for us:  Charlene Baker, Tristin Primozic, Shawn Smith and Wayne Price

Four robes – Two Ravenstail robes woven by Ann Smith; Chilkat robe woven by Clarissa Rizal, and child-size 4-piece child-size Ravenstail ensemble woven by Lily Hope and Clarissa

Owners of the new robe, Ken and Lauren Kaushansky with dancer Wayne Price and weaver, Clarissa Rizal

 

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