On Saturday, the Krewe of Slidellians will hold their Mardi Gras Ball on the North Shore. One of the featured entertainment acts will be the Mardi Gras Indian Stilt Dancers. News With A Twist reporter Deepak Saini stopped by one of their rehearsals to capture this unique balancing act on camera.
It’s not easy getting up when you just grew 4 feet taller! Surprisingly, staying on stilts has little to do with balance.
“It’s the rhythm that keeps you up. Moving to the rhythm. Not so much balance. Balance is like an afterthought. It’s what’s inside you rhythmically that keeps you up,” says Chief Shaka Zulu.
Shaka Zulu trains dancers all over the nation. Right now, his focus is carnival season, a time when he and his Mardi Gras Indian Stilt Dancers are in high demand.
“The concept of being a medium between the heavens and the earth is really what’s being portrayed to the people. Once you put a mask on, you’re not really a person anymore. You become the energy or the entity of what it is that you’re masking,” says Zulu.
Chief Zulu says stilt dancing is in his DNA. It originates from Africa and has been passed down in his family through generations. It’s a gift he’s giving to his students, who in turn, are teaching others.
Dancer Ngozi McCormick says, “It comes natural to them that we got it, we’re doing good, doing well, good job, good job and that’s what we’re training, clapping, good job so whatever it is, it does that to themselves, gives them the self confidence that they need.”
You can’t help but feel the beat in your soul because rich, vibrant culture, is worth celebrating.
You can watch the Mardi Gras Indian Stilt Dancers at the Krewe of Slidellians Ball. It’s Saturday in Slidell at the North Shore Harbor Center at 7pm. Tickets are $70.