By Rick MacDonnell, SnowSeekers Inc.
So much of the Olympics rests in people's freedom to create and spirit to achieve. For Luke Whiteman of Calgary, Alberta, that freedom and spirit take shape in the form of Men's Fancy Dancing, an Aboriginal style of dance native to Montana, where he was born. He has lived in Calgary for the last 11 years.
"Opportunities like the these (Torch) relays are wonderful because they're all about being recognized," Whiteman said. "People from other countries, maybe they don't hear about Native culture; so getting to dance in so big a place, and for it to be seen worldwide, it gives us that chance to show our culture."
Whiteman wowed the crowd at Olympic Plaza with his vivacious performance, one simultaneously breathtaking for both the performers and onlookers alike. If you take most forms of dance and consider them walking, then Men's Fancy Dancing is sprinting. It's fast, energetic, exciting, and powerful.
"I always tell children that in order to be healthy, you have to eat right. To be physically fit, you have to exercise. And that's what I tell them when I dance. Get motivated."
Although it's also about health, it's even more so about pride. "We dance because we love it and because it's our culture. Most importantly, though, we do it to show our children that it's important to (preserve) our culture through dance. To have that opportunity, it allows us to be role models. We want to show the kids, 'Don't be ashamed of your culture.' Don't be shy. It's who we are.'"
Whiteman's opportunity to educate and strengthen his people isn't over in Calgary, however. Just six days ago he was informed that he has been chosen to participate in the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver.
"(Tonight's dance) was just a teaser," Whiteman laughed. "Just wait until Vancouver. I can do a lot more."
Make sure to catch the Travel Alberta Olympic Torch Relay videos on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/TravelAlbertaCanada
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