Photo of Mini Thni Dancers performing at an event in Cochrane that was held in lieu of Canada Day celebrations
Mini Thni Dance Troupe | Photo by: Jujay Yoon

Mini Thni Dance Troupe

By Meghan Power

Mini Thni Dance troupe had their first performance in 2015, the same year they officially became a dance troupe.

Nikki Clarke, founding member, recalls how the troupe came together: “I was asked by a friend if I could bring some dancers to an event to perform. At the time, it was only intended for a one-time performance, but after the event I was approached by a few people asking for contact information and if we took bookings—and ever since then we’ve been performing as a troupe. The group comprises girls ages 14-20 and they perform to traditional pow wow music and contemporary music by various First Nation artists.”


Funding from CADA and other Alberta granting bodies, has helped the group cover the costs of making and maintaining the regalia, hoop dancing equipment, and PA equipment all of which are essential to their performances. CADA funding has also helped them afford to hire a professional photographer to take photos of their performances and to rent a dance studio where they can rehearse routines for upcoming performances. “Having a space to rehearse has been important in giving the dancers space to practice and be able to time their counts and dance moves more efficiently,” says Nikki. “We were also able to receive guidance from various more experienced performers on how to present ourselves and how to grow professionally as a group. Without this funding we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn about what it takes to maintain originality and how to stand-out as performers.”


Funding for First Nations artists is essential. According to Nikki, grants like the one from CADA, gives First Nations artists the opportunities, the resources, and the financial ability to showcase their art in a way that is true to them: “I’m truly grateful to CADA for this funding; it has given us more confidence, as emerging artists, in our ability to perform and succeed at a professional level. It has also helped us to focus our creative vision and set goals. We believe we have the drive needed to break out internationally and perform in bigger venues and to share our culture and traditional dance with other non-Indigenous people, with a contemporary modern style.”


“Our dancers are proud to represent their community, families and showcase the Stoney Nakoda people and our style of dancing and help audiences learn about issues that affect all First Nations across Canada. And while we’re still learning and growing as performers, we’re dreaming big! Our dream would be to produce a large cultural performance, bringing together performers and singers from all different cultures, including performers we admire and who have inspired us—hopefully we can make it happen! So, if the HalluciNation (formally A Tribe Called Red) reads this, the Mini Thni dance troupe would love to collaborate with you!”