Logo for Story Circle Storytelling combines the intensity of a solo performance with the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation. "Storytelling at its best is mutual creation. Through the interaction between teller and listener, storytelling speaks to the inner child to nurture the human spirit." - Ellin Greene, author of Storytelling: Art & Technique.

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Author to Share American Indian Songs and Stories

By Marty Bannan


Originally published in The Spotlight, October 20, 2005


Autumn has its way of drawing us back.  The beauty of golden leaves and anticipation of the coming holidays leaves us yearning to connect with earlier times.


Before the Pilgrims, the Dutch and the French, a number of American Indian cultures thrived in the Northeast.  During “Indian Summer,” there’s an increased interest in the land and the past of Native Americans.


Fortunately, folkways, traditions and stories handed down offer us a glimpse of these cultures.  Among those keeping the flame burning is Joseph Bruchac, noted author and storyteller of Abenaki Indian ancestry.


This Sunday, Oct. 23, Bruchac will be in the Capital District at a storytelling dinner event entitled “Sharing the Circle, an evening of American Indian songs and stories” at the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia at 5 p.m.


“In the circle we can all see each other’s faces,” said Kate Dudding, co-producers of “Story Sundays,” a series of storytelling dinners that the Story Circle of the Capital District sponsors.  “Sunday’s stories and songs will help show the face of the Native cultures of the Northeast, both past and present, through tales and traditional music.”


“Story Sundays” offers a monthly evening of storytelling, accompanied by a three-course dinner at the Glen Sanders Mansion.  Founded in 1999, Story Circle Productions is a nonprofit enterprise created to promote storytelling in and around the Capital District through literary, educational and cultural activities.


In addition to Story Sundays, the Story Circle holds an annual benefit concert caller “Tellabration” at the First Unitarian Society’s Whisperdome in Schenectady.  Storytelling enthusiasts can also join in on the act, learning the craft at meetings and workshops and practicing at several of the open mic nights held in the area.  Money raised at each event pays for future activities.


“Storytelling brings people together.  We hear stories from other cultures and realize those people are going through the same struggles that you and I are going through in live,” Dudding said, adding that humorous stories make the quickest connection between storyteller and audience.


Storytellers must be inspired at the moment and play off their audience.


“Across the country, there are about 200 professional storytellers making a living, traveling and performing, but there are thousands who do it as a labor of love working on the side,” Dudding said.


Storytelling styles vary.  Bruchac’s style, Dudding said, involves looking directly into the listeners’ eyes and speaking directly to their hearts.


Bruchac has written more than 100 books and has published articles for National Geographic, Adirondack Life and Smithsonian Magazine.


“I combine traditional Native American stories using the circle to bring all people together as human beings,” Bruchac said.  “We all have much in common.  We all listen and we all talk.  Sometimes we talk too much.  We need to be reminded that we have one mouth and two ears, and must listen twice as much as we talk.”


The series continues with new storytellers each month through May.  For reservations, call 384-1700.  For information about membership, meetings, workshops and open mic events, call 786-1271 or visit Story Circle of the Capital District’s web site, www.timesunion.com/communities/storycircle.