I had the privilege to attend a Brulé concert Saturday night.
The contemporary Native American group describes its music as “a mergence of cultural rock and theatrical instrumentations” that features “the same contagious excitement as Trans Siberian Orchestra, Celtic Thunder, and Riverdance — but with the emotional impact of the American Indian culture.”
The performance includes traditional Native American music blended with modern rock, as well as Native American dancers who perform contemporized versions of traditional dance with elements of traditional garb.
Brulé received rave reviews in my home region of Starved Rock Country after a 2013 concert, so I made sure the husband and I got tickets for the 2014 show performed Dec. 6 at La Salle-Peru High School.
A noticeable portion of the audience was children. Several sat in the rows in front of the husband and I.
I was skeptical when I first saw the makeup of the crowd. Would two hours of Native American music and dance hold a child’s attention?
I needn’t have worried.
One little girl in particular — I would estimate her to be 5 to 6 years old — captured my attention as much as the dancers onstage.
Whenever one of the Native American women would perform a dance, the little blond girl in front of me would stand up on her seat and mirror the dancer’s hand gestures. She was completely captivated by the dancers, and at every opportunity, she pretended to be one of them.
Introducing children to other cultures and performances opens the gateway to imagination. I witnessed it happening Saturday night as the little girl watched wide-eyed, absorbing every moment, then reliving it in her imagination.
I watched as the family exited the auditorium, and every few steps the little girl would stomp a few Native American-inspired dance steps, mimicking the arm gestures she followed so faithfully during the performance. My own imagination ran away with her, picturing her the next afternoon tucking a feather in her hair and some Christmas jingle bells in her hands, performing her own version of the jingle dance (a Native American healing dance) over a stuffed animal or doll.
The Brulé performance serves as a bold reminder to introduce children to other cultures as often as possible. Not only does the introduction expand the reach of childhood imagination, but also through imagining, it helps them remember, internalize, and bond with that culture.
Below, for your enjoyment, is a video of a previous Brulé performance: