Cultus Lake will be shimmering in the background of an upcoming episode of the new APTN show, Warrior Games.
A film crew and cast were shooting scenes in Chilliwack with local hoop dancer Gary Abbott and the show host last week.
The new show follows the gung-ho host as he tries to master a traditional indigenous sport in each community they visit.
Host/producer Steve Sxwithul’txw is from Penelakut Tribe of the Coast Salish Nation, and says he’s never tried any of the sports before in his life.
“Physically it’s been quite demanding,” the 47-year-old host tells the Progress, on a break from shooting at Main Beach.
From some fierce stickball down south, to the Metis Games in Ontario, and Whitehorse later this winter, it’s been a huge learning curve for Sxwithul’txw.
He’s can appreciate one thing for sure: the hoop dance is not just a dance.
“It’s something a lot more personal. It can reference portions of your life and showcase your lifestyle, your very being.”
“It’s about transitioning through the forms into something beautiful.”
He tried the eagle, tornado, horse, and his favourite, the butterfly.
Hoop dancing as it turns out, is deeply personal.
That’s definitely how it is for Abbott, who has been hoop dancing for 23 years. Every dancer tells a different story, he says.
One of his favourite moves is when he makes ‘the world’ with eight hoops, then flies around, forms the eagle and then jumps back into the world.
“My story is the story of life, and that’s the death part. It’s all part of the circle of life.”
He admits he doesn’t practise much any more, and focuses more on fancy dancing these days, but he did so intensively in the early years of mastering what he calls “the story dance.”
“It requires a lot of dedication, and focus and training.”
It takes a series of tiny, precise movements to transition smoothly from one form into the next.
“You have to know where everything is at all times, and you have to practise all the time to master the hoops.”
For the show host, he’s enjoying the fruits of his labours.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I get to learn from some of the best and Gary is the best in the business around here.
“The highlight for me is obviously has been working with youth, and talking to the elders, for the feedback they have on these sports, because you have to carry it the right way in your community.”
Warrior Games is directed by April Butler, the Series Producer is Barry Gray, Executive Producer is Patti Poskitt, and will be broadcast in the Fall 2013.
“Steve has been learning a lot,” said Gray.
“He picks up the basics of the sport and then each episode builds up to him demonstrating those skills.
“It’s to show the kids that even someone past their prime can do it. Motivating youth to stay active is a huge element along with the cultural traditions.”
They’re forging a link to a rich cultural past, while at the same time, promoting healthier lifestyles today.
“It’s a chance for us to showcase Indigenous games to First Nations across Canada and the U.S., learn from the past about what was really important to our tribes, and educate the youth in a fun and meaningful way,” added Sxwithul’txw.
For more details the site should be live soon at www.warriorgames.ca