Beyond Heritage returns

Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2006

Beyond Heritage, Juneau's fifth annual celebration of contemporary and traditional Alaska Native culture, returns Tuesday, May 31-Saturday, June 3.

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The week will culminate with two performances of the dance workshop "Raven Odyssey," a chance for 12 Alaska Natives to share their particular dance styles, songs and interpretations of Raven.

Perseverance Theatre Artistic Director PJ Paparelli and Outreach Director Ishmael Hope traveled across the state in the fall and winter of 2005 documenting the Raven tales of Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Aleut, Alutiiq, Athabascan, Inupiaq and Yupik storytellers for an eventual full-length version of "Raven Odyssey." They stopped in Kotzebue, Gamble on St. Lawrence Island, Anchorage, Hydaburg, Craig, Klawock and Fairbanks.

"You have multiple generations and multiple disciplines and multiple cultures sharing with each other," Hope said. "There's a tendency in these things to work with people with more urban experience, but largely, this group has been steeped in rural experiences where they still fish daily and hunt and gather subsistence. It's unique also for Beyond Heritage. We've had guest artists in the past, but never to this degree."

The group includes Henry Aladema; Jack Dalton; Sakara Dunlap; Allan Hayton; Theresa John; Austin Tagaban; Georgianne Waska; Martin Woods; Richard Atoruk; Travis Kaningok; Sam Johnston, Duane Aucoin and Sharon Shorty.

The group will rehearse eight hours a day for 10 days before the first production. Look for more on "Raven Odyssey" in the June 1 issue of This Week.


(All events except Saturday afternoon's performance at Celebration are pay-as-you-can)

• 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at the Gold Town Nickelodeon - The festival starts with an evening of poetry, storytelling and short film. Poets and storytellers can sign in at the door, and Natives and non-Native are invited to share. A similar event at the 2005 Beyond Heritage drew a packed house, so show up early.

Hope will screen film of some of the interviews that he and Paparelli conducted across the state with elders and other knowledge-bearers. Hope will also offer a sneak preview of a comic book he's written with Athabascan artist Dimi Macheras, a fellow Rasmuson grant recipient. The story intersperses the traditional Strongman story with the tale of a young man who endures relentless teasing at his high school.

• 7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 1, at Perseverance Theatre - The festival will look at Native music, as the guest artists of Raven Odyssey share their songs and dances.

• 11 a.m. Saturday, June 3, at Celebration at Centennial Hall - The cast will perform "Raven Odyssey" on the main stage at Celebration.

• 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at Perseverance Theatre - The night will include a repeat performance of the "Raven Odyssey," along with additional storytelling from the cast.

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