Teddy Anderson, a professional hoop dancer, recently visited Mountview Elementary School to show students his craft and to talk about issues relevant to them.
Anderson focuses on issues including racism, bullying, violence, the importance of education, human rights and youth peace building. This has been a focus of his since high school.
“With my message everything stems from the one central theme of the oneness of mankind,” said Anderson. “No mater what religion, or culture you come from it’s comparable to a garden. Having diversity in the garden is like the diversity in the world. With only one flower it would be very simple and would become boring after a while. But with the multitude of diversity in cultures it makes us beautiful as a society.”
Anderson graduated from high school at Maxwell International School in Shawinigan Lake where he received the highest award that Maxwell has to offer, the Eagle Award.
The Eagle Award is given to students who demonstrate outstanding leadership, scholarship and service to the community. Anderson fulfilled these requirements by being a part of a dance troupe and by facilitating the workshops for the troupe. His group did dances on social issues and they travelled around the community of Shawinigan Lake on Vancouver Island, sharing their message and increasing awareness around these issues.
The hoop dance is a First Nation’s cultural art form and many First Nation’s culture have different styles and customs around the dance. Today, each hoop dancer develops, builds and grows their unique performance as a reflection of their life story however, hundreds of years ago the traditional healers of various tribes used the hoop dance as a way to pray, meditate and become stronger in spirit.
Anderson began his hoop dance training 10 years ago at the age of 15 under the guidance of Scott Ward, a Métis Salteaux seasoned in the traditional art of the hoop dance. Anderson’s love for the art quickly grew into a passion and his abilities rapidly increased. Anderson began working with nine hoops. Today he has such a master of the dance that he can use as many as 30 hoops in one dance, which is more than most dancers.
In 2003, Ward gave Anderson the permission to perform that all students must receive from their teachers before they can do so. This is what allows Anderson to reach out to people in his community to share his message of peace and oneness.
Anderson has a very diverse cultural background. His mother is Turkmen and his father is of European descent. In the 1970s Anderson’s grandparents and father were adopted into the Tlingit Tribe of the Yukon. This proud heritage inspired him to bring people from diverse cultures and backgrounds together through a dance that can be understood regardless of cultural, economic or social background.
“It was the depth of symbolism in the First Nations’ culture that drew me to hoop dancing as well as the ability to express myself in such a powerful way through dance,” said Anderson.