Yurapiartukut is Yup’ik  for “We genuinely dance” and as a part of UAF’s Inu-Yupiaq dance group, I am willing to vouch that for our group, the statement is undeniably true. No matter where we come from, whether it is Kotzebue, Chevak, or Atlanta Georgia, there is a part in all of us that cannot deny the song and dance of the north.
Maybe it sounds crazy, a guy from the heart of the south moved to Alaska to dance to a bunch of traditional Eskimo music, but all in all, it is one of the few things that keep me sane through not just the harsh Fairbanks winter, but the entire year. Maybe if I break it down some you might understand how we function and why.
Inu-Yupiaq is a UAF club that holds practices twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays, in the Brooks building. Our name is a portmanteau of both Inupiaq and Yupiaq (an un-contracted version of Yup’ik,) both of which, if you are unfamiliar, are adjacent coastal native groups which are closely linked in many ways, most noticeably a similar language and diet along with the traditional form of song, accompanied by drumming and dancing. Because we focus on the duality of the region, we spend our time dancing songs from both of the areas. 
Duality is evident in almost all aspects of our dances. It drains from the Yup’ik and Inupiaq belief that life is made up of two polar aspects. Day and night, good and bad, hungry or full, the list goes on and on. That is what makes life. In our dances you can see that most motions are repeated on both sides of the body, the left and the right. In Inupiaq songs the verse is typically sung once calmly and without drums, while the second singing of the verse is sung powerfully and is accompanied by drums.  Symmetry in life as a whole is a powerful notion.
Many of us like to dance in a very traditional style. We like our songs with spirit.  There is a clear synergy created by the drumming and singing in combination of our dancing spirit. Many of us enjoy watching and learning from other dancers, especially elders as much as we enjoy dancing ourselves. We push each other to learn and to dance harder.  With that being said, rarely do we push each other to do such things by verbal communication. Typically it is a follow the leader situation, many times the first verse of a song will go un-danced if people are feeling shy, but once one or two people stand to dance many follow.
Overall, people have a desire to be a part of something, to be a part of a family, whether the family is made of a band of musicians or circus performers or cake bakers or book readers, that part doesn’t matter. But for me, the chance to express myself in such a traditional form, something that feels so natural and enjoyable while I am surrounded by friends who encourage me is beyond awesome.
So if you feel so inclined, if you feel that this might be an interesting experience or that you might enjoy dancing some songs that aren’t much harder than the Macarena (and pretty similar in some ways) please come and visit us in the Brooks building, 7-9 PM on Wednesdays and 6-8 PM on Saturdays. We will greet you with open arms, so don’t be too shy!

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