Superstar shufflers to rock Métis fest
Sagkeeng's Finest bring fusion jigging to Servus Place
Wednesday, May 07, 2014 06:00 am
Métis Spring Festival
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for ages six to 12. People five and under get in free.
Call Florence Gaucher at 780-452-6100, ext. 227 for details.
A trio of shuffling superstars is coming to St. Albert next week for the city’s annual Métis festival.
St. Albert’s fifth annual Métis Spring Festival will rock out at Servus Credit Union Place May 17 and 18.
The annual event sees up to 1,500 people gather for two days of fun, song and dance, as well as competitions between Métis fiddlers and jiggers from across the nation. Some $20,000 in prize money are up for grabs.
This event is a celebration of Métis culture, said Don Langford, executive director of the Métis Child and Family Services Society of Edmonton (which organized the event). It’s also a good chance to learn more about the role the Métis have had in the history of St. Albert.
“Métis culture is just as important as the First Nations or Inuit culture,” he said. “You might call us second people (a reference to aboriginals as Canada’s first peoples).”
This is the first year that the society has hosted the event on its own, Langford said. (Co-sponsor Poundmaker’s Lodge dropped out due to financial pressures, he explained.)
Fiddle and jigging groups from across the nation will perform throughout the festival, said organizer Florence Gaucher. There will also be about 12 vendors on site offering traditional aboriginal crafts.
The big draw this year is to be a performance Sunday night by Sagkeeng’s Finest – a dancing trio from Manitoba’s Sagkeeng First Nation.
Sagkeeng’s Finest was the winner of the 2012 Canada’s Got Talent competition. The team, consisting of Vince O’Laney, Brandon Courchene and Dallas Courchene, earned $100,000 for its efforts and is now on a cross-Canada tour.
The team also received Manitoba’s Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 2012.
Reached in Scotland this week on tour with the Asham Stompers (who are also coming to St. Albert’s festival), O’Laney, 19, said he first got into Métis jigging about nine years ago.
“The sound of the fiddle got me going,” he explained. “It made me want to dance.”
O’Laney described his team’s dance style as a cross between traditional jigging (which resembles tap-dancing) and hip-hop. You’ll notice a bit of moon-walking, for example, as well as some hip-hop shuffles.
“All the steps we do we made up for ourselves,” he said.
The end result is a bit like what you’d get if the Backstreet Boys did tap dance – flashy costumes, fancy footwork, jumps, spins and twirls, all backed by a mile-a-minute fiddle soundtrack.
The most impressive part of the group’s performance is how they all move in sync, said Gaucher, who followed them closely during their run on Canada’s Got Talent.
“It’s like synchronized swimming.”
The festival runs from about noon until 6 p.m. both days.