MEDIUM: Traditional Dance & Music
LOCATION: Anchorage, Alaska
2018 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD HONOREE
“With flashes of color and escalating drum beats, Yup’ik dance envelopes the audience in a celebration of traditional sounds and culture, a blending of music, language and dance,” Marie says.
A traditional dancer, Marie embodies her belief that this gift of dance has taught her who she is as a Yup’ik person.
“Yup’ik dance can be a form of prayer that helps me connect to the core of my soul and spirit as a human being,” she says.
While maintaining strong relationships and family ties with her homeland and the Yup’ik community in Southwest Alaska, Marie travels to practice her art at public and private gatherings, festivals and celebrations. She also shares her dance with the larger global community.
Joy Demmert (Yup’ik) knows her through Marie’s son, Stephen, who performs worldwide with his Inuit soul music group, Pamyua.
“Through Marie, the traditional dancing and singing to tell stories of Yup’ik traditions and ways of life continue to be shared as they have for thousands of years,” Joy says. “She has not only strengthened our communities in Alaska through her art forms, but has spread them all over the world.”
Along with mentoring her sons, grandchildren and many relatives, Marie has taught Yup’ik dance at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus for many years. In 2015, Marie was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame for her contributions to the Alaskan community. She currently works at the University of Alaska Anchorage as a professor for Yup’ik Language, Yup’ik Orthography, and Alaska Native Dance.