Spirit: A Journey in Dance, Drums and Song, the Native American answer to Riverdance, launches several introductions to its blend of modern and traditional tribal dance and music beginning Mar. 7 with a Hollywood Records live album release.
Following the record, a PBS pledge special on Spirit, introduced by Kevin Costner ("Dances With Wolves"), will be broadcast in March (check local listings for times). In April, Polygram Video will release a home video of the production, recorded in Green Bay Aug. 1998.
The final step will be the launch of a national tour, beginning in Chicago in Oct. 1999.
The show boasts a creative team of disparate talents. Broadway veteran Wayne Cilento (The Who's Tommy, How to Succeed...) is choreographer of the piece. The show's composer, Peter Buffett, is a Milwaukee-based musician whose credits include the film soundtracks "Dance With Wolves" and "The Scarlet Letter." Chief Hawk Pope, meanwhile, in addition being lyricist, vocalist and musical collaborator on the project, is the Chief of the Shawnee remnant tribe.
Spirit Dance features a cast of 80 in a fervent display of Native American dancing and drumming, including 40 contemporary and traditional dancers, percussionists, musicians, traditional vocalists and the Green Bay Oneida Nation Girls Choir. Two featured performances include rock musician Robert Mirabel mixing the flute and native drums while Kiowa Eagle dancer Ron Anquoe performs a traditional dance. Then called Spirit Dance, Spirit made its debut Aug. 7 & 9 at the 2,200 seat Weidner Center in Green Bay, WI.
-- By Christine Ehren and Robert Simonson