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U990.14.467
Artist / Maker : David, Joe
Title : Thunderbird Dancer
Date (Execution) : n.d.
Geographical Origin : Opitsaht, British Columbia, Canada
Cultural Group : Nuu-chah-nulth, Tla-o-qui-aht
Style / Period : Western Modern 1900-1950
Medium / Material  : Serigraph
Support / Technique : paper
Object Type : screen prints
Visual Description : Red and black thunderbird in centre of paper. Head facing to the right. Overlapping scale like design in the torso and tail. (in red)
Accession # : U990.14.467
Width (cm) : 40.50
Height (cm) : 51.00
Depth (cm) : 0.00
Mandatory Credit : Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grant, Purchased from the Collection of Vincent Rickard
Artist Statement : The Potlatch continues with speeches, singing, games, feasting and more dancing. Soft and slow is the drumming and singing at the start of the THUNDERBIRD DANCE. The Thunderbird is the crest of prestige and distinction, belonging only to the highest ranking of chiefs, its dance and song preformed with great pride only by members of the family, or an especially skilled dancer paid to preform it. With slow drum beat in flickering firelight two dancers are crouched down. The majestic Thunderbird crests on the back of their capes are not seen as they face the audience with arms and capes, as wings, folded in close to the body. The drumming grows faster, and louder. The great mythical birds rise upwards, stretching 4 times, twice to each side; elbows move out, the hands are on the hips to spread the cape, and the feet pound the floor with a frenzy. They move out and away from each other and then turn to reveal the full beauty of the Thunderbird design on the back of the cape. Through a concealed whistle in the mouth, the Thunderbird emits a whistling sound that joins with the drumming and the special song sung for this dance. the guests at the Potlatch are deeply impressed. The two dancers meet again at the center, twirling around each other, creating form and balance, their headdresses in constant motion. Finally the drumming slows and subsides, the mighty Thunderbirds fold their wings and crouch back down, returning to their original position. The tempo of the drums will rise again and the dance will be preformed four times, as is the custom. (statement provided by Pacific Editions) Joe David's dramatic and powerful rendering of the Thunderbird depicts the liveliness of the dancer just as he has turned, showing the bird in full back view. Topped by the headdress, the feathered body is flanked by the outstretched wings. Through transformation the human arm and head of the dancer are visible beneath the wings. The Thunderbirds legs on either side and the feathered tail complete the design of this high ranked crest. (statement provided by Pacific Editions)