The Arrow Lakes District Arts Council (ALDAC) concert series started with a bang this year, literally, as In The Sticks, a drumming and dancing group out of the Slocan Valley, performed at the Bonnington Arts Centre on Sept. 24.
The group performs music honouring the heritage of West Africa, using traditional drums known as dun duns. The dun duns are played with sticks, and are done so in a stand up style, synced with dance choreography focused around the drum.
Before In The Sticks took the stage, Nakusp drumming group Boombasa warmed up the crowd.
As they were about to begin, group member Corinne Tessier noted the large open space in front of the stage, and invited audience members to come down should they feel the urge to dance to the drum beat. Several audience members took up that invitation.
One thing to note is both groups are from the local area. This is not by accident.
“We’re hoping that by bringing local artists in we can bring the costs down,” said Andreea Myhal, a member of the ALDAC. “That enables us to bring in more people to see what we do.”
If Boombasa is anything to go by, the locals are very talented.
During their time on stage, the group performed a variety of pieces from around the world, including West Africa and Puerto Rico.
One song, Chico, is a dance of celebration. The beat seemed to get louder and louder as the song reached its crescendo.
After intermission, In The Sticks took to the stage.
One of the first songs they performed was “Cuckoo”, a women’s dance when people came home from fishing.
The level of rhythm the group had was astounding. The drumming became a cacophony of sounds, mingling together, and forming a perfect harmony.
Audience members loved it.
“It’s really energizing, and very different and entertaining,” said Alice Smith. “It sounds almost primal, the drum beat, but I think the high energy, and the choreography are all about it. There’s something very raw, and beautiful about it.”
Along with the drumming, the group also performed a selection of spoken word pieces, and dance pieces.
During one of the dances, baskets filled with flower petals were used, and by the end, the floor of the theatre was various shades of purple, red, orange, yellow, and pink.
Being part of In The Sticks is a lot of work. The group practises once a week, more if there is a performance coming up.
“It’s a lot of time to put into shows,” said Tamara Ireland, a member of the group. “We’re all working mamas, students, and entrepreneurs. It’s a big commitment, but luckily we are all best friends, and so it makes it that much more lovely to come together.”
In The Sticks finished their show to rousing applause and a standing ovation from the audience.
If this is the kind of local talent to be featured at the Bonnington this year, Nakusp is definitely in for a treat.