When Kendra Tagoona was a young high school student in Ottawa, she began her training as a performing artist. Her first creative expression started with dance, as she participated in extensive training in ballet, modern and jazz. As her passion for the performing arts grew, so did her interest to learn more about the background of her Inuit father who is from Baker Lake, Nunavut. She had lived in Rankin Inlet as a child, and remembers it well.
Since her initial training, she became involved in performing for many years with various Inuit artists and shows, which led to her career as a professional performing artist. She continued to focus mainly on the Inuit art forms of traditional drumdancing, ayaya singing, and also incorporated contemporary dance with traditional movements and outfits.
In more recent years, she met her throatsinging partner, who taught her how to perform this unique type of singing and traditional form of Inuit entertainment. Kendra Tagoona has built a strong voice as a throatsinger to add to her repertoire for performing, and has also had the opportunity to be employed in a â€œday jobâ€? as a solo throatsinger/drum dancer at an Aboriginal educational site called â€œAboriginal Experiencesâ€? in Ottawa.
Tagoona has learned various songs from other throatsingers, with whom she has practiced traditional sounds as well as developed new ones. Throatsinging is mainly improvised, and is learned by one on one practice with a partner. She has developed a strong talent to adjust to various throatsingers over the years, and has learned variations of existing traditional songs.
In addition to continuing academic studies at Carleton University, Kendra Tagoona has had great opportunities to perform locally and travel internationally demonstrating traditional Inuit culture and promoting the importance of preserving Inuit traditions, as an Inuk living in the south. She has had the great opportunity to travel internationally to Norway, Mexico, the United States and the 2005 World Expo Festival in Japan. Tagoona believes that all cultures should protect their traditions by learning and promoting the old way of life in any way possible, and she does this creatively with much enthusiasm as a cultural performer.
“Their performance during the opening ceremonies was a collaboration with Tuvan throat singers, a Yoik singer, and a dance group from Kamchatka, Russia. A later performance included throat singing, drumming and ayaya singing. This performance was extremely well received as the only Inuit Canadian performers at the camp.”
Website: Nunatsiaq News.
Susan Aglukark shared the stage with 18 Inuit dancers from across Nunavut at the opening of the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards show in Calgary last Friday. "I have never seen anything like this before! This show had the most beautiful set costumes anyone could ever imagine. What a sight and what talent!" some observers said after the show.
Our shows consist of traditional and contemporary music. We sing mainly traditional throatsongs while adding contemporary drum dance movements to accompany Ayaya singing-(see website for explanation on ayaya singing). When we choreograph drum sequences for shows, we always try to keep in mind the symmetry of the movements and the use of the full stage and space. There are some common drum movements which we repeat several times, while creating new ideas on how to move across the stage while drumming in relation to each other. For certain Ayaya songs we maintain a consistent rhythm with some pauses or double beats at faster points in the song. Traditional drumming is improvised and consists of a constant beat, although contemporary drumming is much more centered around the stage performance and syncopation. During a song called “Quviasuliqpunga,” we usually approach this song more freely to demonstrate improvised traditional drumming. We choreograph less and improvise our movements while drumming. The audience is usually unaware that this is the traditional style and may wonder why we are not moving all together. None the less, we do not exclude this tradition based on the audience’s expectations of visual stimulation through choreography and fancy movements.
In our shows, we only sing popular Inuit Ayaya songs and have not branched out yet with writing our own songs. We feel it is important to demonstrate Inuit traditions with our limited time on stage. Most of these songs are about the environment in the north and everyday life of Inuit. They are also “fun songs” which usually are loved by children. Our show caters to all age groups, and is impressive with the unique sound of its choreographed drumming and singing.
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