Camai:First Dance


Originally uploaded by Andrea Pokrzywinski

Camai means Hello. It is also the name of the annual Dance Festival in Bethel. Dancers from around the world are invited to perform at this spring gathering. Inviting other villages to dance is a traditional Yupik activity. Each village has their own group, styles and songs.

The students in this photo are dancing their “first dance”. Notice the fur that they are standing on. This signifies a first dance. There are many customs, including a giveaway that go along with this tradition.

This is a happy festival where relatives from across the delta can visit with friends and family from other villages. Dancers from as far away as Sudan performed. Cloggers, break dancers, karate students, and ballroom dancers took their turn on the stage as well.