Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Red River Jig

One of the things the Métis are well known for is the Red River Jig (known as "oayache mannin" in the michif language). Here's a video so you can hear the song performed by Reg Bouvette:

The song has been around since at least the mid-1800s, and the Métis still jig to it. When you hear the term 'Red River Jig' it can refer to both the song and the dance.

The jig was - and still is - popular at Métis  social gatherings.

It consists of two main parts, starting out with a basic step (see the videos below). When the music changes (a subtle lowering of the pitch) the dancer infuses his or her own "fancy steps" until the music goes back to the higher pitch, during which the dancer starts the basic steps all over again. Each time the dancer comes to the fancy step portion (also known as "the change") he/she can add a new set of steps, often getting more and more challenging with each change.

To this day, dancers still compete to see who has the best moves with the most precise steps. Originally, the Red River Jig was danced by a man and woman or two competing men, but today it's often done solo.

The basic step is: right, right, left, right, left, left, right, left. I used to play the drums, and when playing this rhythm with drumsticks, this rhythm is known as a paradiddle!

The best way to know what the Red River Jig looks like is to simply show you. Here are a few different YouTube videos I found of folks doing the traditional Métis dance. Let's start off with a dance off!

And what better way to dance the Red River Jig than in red high-heeled shoes:

Here are the Genaille Girls jigging:

And there you have it! Do you think you can do the Red River Jig? If you send me a video of you trying it out (and allow me to post it on this blog) I'll send you a free copy of  Ox Cart Angel! Just email the video to me at:  joelarnold (at) mchsi (dot) com.

Thanks for stopping by!