More than 622,000 people have now seen the New York Times’ video of St’at’imc dancer Laura Grizzlypaws performing her grizzly bear dance.
The video, titled “Dancing as the Spirit of a Wild Grizzly Bear,” was posted on the world-famous newspaper’s website on Dec. 21 as part of a series about dancing around the world called “Dance in the Real World.”
In June of last year, Times video journalist Alexandra Eaton and a cameraman visited Lillooet to interview Laura Grizzlypaws and film her performing at Aboriginal Day celebrations on the Lillooet REC Centre lawn and in a mountainside setting near town.
Eaton told the News then that there were two criteria for choosing dancers to appear in the series – “first it has to be amazing dancing and the second criteria is that it has to be something you may not have seen before.”
The video opens dramatically with a striking image of Grizzlypaws slowly rising from a grassy field, mimicking the movements and gestures of a grizzly - scooping her hand to harvest salmon, shrugging her shoulders to resemble a grizzly walking on the earth and jumping like a playful bear trying to catch a butterfly or a bee.
“They say that many of the teachings for how we live come from the grizzly bear,” says Grizzlypaws’ voice-over. “The bear dance is a medicine healing dance, a ceremonial dance, but also a celebration dance. There is no other dance like it.”
She explains, “When I’m wearing the hide, I am one with Grizz (her name for her bear regalia). I am the bear. Grizz is the grizzly bear that I dance with. He’s from my community, Xwisten. The grizzly bear habitat has been encroached upon and this bear was put down for the safety of humans. And so with that, my community retrieved him and from there, I’ve been with Grizz. I dance with Grizz in ceremony with Grizz, have a sweat lodge with Grizz, bask in the sun with Grizz, do yoga with Grizz and that’s a part of acknowledging Grizz’s spirit.”
Laura Grizzlypaws told the News that when the Times contacted her, her response was “OK, here we go. This is the time.’”
To view the video of Laura Grizzlypaws and Grizz, please go to:
The video can also be watched on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhF9U0PqE0U&feature=youtu.be
To view the full series of New York Times videos, please go to: http://nyti.ms/2AHwHcG