Tag Archives: storytelling

Grand Canyon Vampire Encounter

Informant’s Background:

My informant, JD, is a undergraduate student at Arizona State University. He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. His family is American and he was born somewhere in California, but his family moved to Arizona shortly after his birth.


My informant (JD) and I (AT) are friends, after meeting online through a mutual friend during the pandemic. I asked him if he had any folklore to share.


JD: “So when my dad was hiking the Grand Canyon and it was like 3AM in the morning and he had his headlight on… He saw a dude walk past him without a headlamp on and the dude was like REALLY pale and he was kind of like staggering about and… he didn’t look at him or say anything and my dad was overall kind of creeped out about the guy.”

AT: “When did your dad tell you this story?”

JD: “Uhh… He just said it to me after his trip. In my kitchen, I think.”

Informant’s Thoughts:

JD: “I think it’s kind of weird. One thing he did say is-just jokingly, I guess, that it might’ve been a vampire or something but he was getting vampire vibes from the dude.”


I think it’s interesting how grim situations can be made light by comparing them to pre-existing myths and legends, such as those of vampires in this case. I don’t believe its my place to say whether or not the informant’s father’s encounter with this forest wanderer was a vampire encounter or not. But if theoretically it wasn’t a vampire encounter, then this could have been a meeting with someone who is potentially lost, mentally ill, or otherwise seriously unwell, and potentially dangerous, but the father is able to change the narrative into a humorous and mythical encounter by mentioning the possibility of the person being a vampire, thus recontextualizing the original grim and bleak encounter into a more fantastical, funny, and spooky story.


  1. The main piece: Kathak

“Um… Kathak is a classical North Indian dance form. It’s like… thousands of years old or something like that. And it’s pretty much… it has to do w like storytelling and like… kinda like describing the tales of India and Pakistan and stuff. Um, so, there’s a lot about the sounds that your feet make. Like the sounds your toes, or the soles of your feet make. You kind of stomp a lot. Most of it is like one rhythm, but you change the speeds and you change your hands to portray a story. Like going super fast is like building up tension, like the snakes are about to eat you. Slow is like, you know, nicely walking through a field of flowers, so nice and pleasant. Yeah, that’s literally it.”

  1. Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? Context of the performance?

“When we finally stopped moving around and settled in Porter Ranch, we didn’t really know anyone. My parents didn’t have any Pakistani or Gujarati friends nearby, and, well, I literally knew nothing about my culture. So they signed me up for kathak classes, which really hurt your feet by the way, and that’s where I met a bunch of my really close family friends and my best friend.”

  1. Finally, your thoughts about the piece

This piece shows the importance that dance has as an artform in folklore. Dance combines the retelling of folk narratives, in this case legends and myths of Hindu gods and Pakistani heroes, with an aesthetically pleasing and dynamic medium of expression. It is different from normal storytelling because it is entirely nonverbal, yet it aims to recapture the emotions and visual aspects of folk narratives, making them more real to all of the community members watching.

  1. Informant Details

The informant is an 18 year old Indian and Pakistani American female who grew up in the United States, but moved a lot as a child. While she didn’t feel close to her parents, she met her childhood best friends through local Pakistani and Indian cultural lessons such as dance classes and singing lessons, and prizes her memories of those classes.