Dakhká Khwáan Dancers Kick Off Opening Night Showcase for Pan Am Games

TheLead drummer Gary Johnson prepares backstage to lead the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers pose for photographs after the performance.

TheLead drummer Gary Johnson prepares backstage to lead the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers pose for photographs after the performance.

Last night, dozens of First Nation and Métis performers from across the country officially opened the Aboriginal Pavilion for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. With multiple stages, food vendors, and a marketplace, the Pavilion—located at the Fort York National Historic Site at the foot of Strachan just north of Lakeshore Boulevard—promises to be a key family-friendly site during the event.

Hundreds of celebrants packed around the main stage to feast their eyes and ears, and to engage in the spirit of cultural exchange, partnership, and harmony. Inland Tlingit dance and drumming group Dakhká Khwáan Dancers travelled all the way from the Yukon to be perform this week, and if the audience response to their piece is any indication, their shows will be crowd favourites.

Lead drummer Gary Johnson prepares backstage to lead the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers

Lead drummer Gary Johnson prepares backstage to lead the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers

Performing in handmade regalia and masks, the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers use music and dance for storytelling, sharing the legends of the Inland Tlingit.

“Expect a high energy, loud and proud performance,” lead drummer Gary Johnson says. “When you’re singing traditional songs, you’re sharing your stories, and it can’t help but be a little bit personal. You’re sharing yourself and your soul. ”

The group, which started out with only a handful of dancers, has grown to include 25 to 30 people, and has earned international acclaim. They have shared their music and dance in New Zealand, Taiwan, and at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, and they just recently accepted the National Cultural Tourism Award in Ottawa. Read more about the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers on Eat Drink Travel.

The Main Stage at the Pan Am Games Aboriginal Pavilion

The Main Stage at the Aboriginal Pavilion

The Dakhká Khwáan Dancers have their first full-length show on Friday, July 17, 2015 at the West Stage, Aboriginal Pavilion, Fork York, starting at 4:30pm. On Saturday July 18, 2015, the group will perform at Ontario’s Celebration Zone at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, starting at 2:30pm. All shows are free and open to the public.

Of course, it’s always a thrill to see the group perform in Canada’s North. Once the Pan Am Games wrap up, the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers will be performing Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife (July 17-19) at the Hà Kus Teyea Celebration in Teslin, Yukon.

To plan your visit to the Yukon, check out Travel Yukon’s website. For more ideas and inspiration, read our past adventures here.

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