(ARLEE) Louie Plant, Sr., has traveled from China to Russia to Poland to New Zealand, representing the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes through his native dance.
“I never would have thought of this. I never would have thought of doing what I’ve done and being able to do what I’ve done. I just wanted to dance,” Plant said.
He’s been dancing since he can remember and through the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theater’s Ballet Beyond Borders program based in Missoula, he’s performed at the 2008 Olympic Cultural Festival in China and at a presidential inauguration in Poland — bringing traditional fancy dancing to those who’ve never seen it.
“Shock and awe. I mean, just the sheer magnificence of the regalia. It makes a huge statement before he even dances.,” said Rocky Mountain Ballet Theater president Charlene Campbell who travels with Plant.
Plant carries bits of his own history on his regalia from beadwork done by his mom to bits of his own history as a member of the Kootenai tribe. He’s also been taught to represent his people with honor wherever he goes.
But Plant’s days of competitive dancing are coming to an end. He suffers from severe diabetic nerve pain and while dancing can relieve the pain for a moment, it’s a very physical activity and hard on his body.
But even when the dancing stops, what Plant has done for Native Americans in the world will continue, sharing the real story of a diverse people who often fall victim to stereotypes.
“We don’t fit a mold. Each of us is different in our own different way. And because of that, it’s beautiful and we are holding on to our traditions, living in two different worlds. We just want the world to know we exist,” Plant concluded.
Ballet Beyond Borders hosts its premier event in Missoula this January, bringing all kinds of dancers from around the world in a unique competition and exhibition. Click here for more information about the event.
- Reported by Jill Valley