Fancy Shawl dancers are women and girls who usually wear bright, colorful, elaborate regalia with a calf-length skirt and a long, fringed shawl worn over the shoulders and held slightly out at the elbows. Movements include fine footwork, and fast spins, meant to mimic a joyful butterfly.
Men’s fancy dancing has its origins among the Hethuska socieites of the Omaha, Ponca and the Pawnee Nations. Once used to entice and motivate young warriors, today it is one of the most popular styles of dance. Fancy Feather dancers are men and boys who perform fast, intricate movements, such as twisting, leaping, twirling, splits, footwork, and acrobatics. Their regalia is usually bright, colorful, and elaborate and includes two large bustles on their backs.
Fancy Feather Dance
Dating back to the 19th century Male Traditional dancers are characterized by a back bustle made of eagle or hawk feathers, ankle bells, a breech cloth choker, a wapecha (a feathered porcupine headdress), leggings, and moccasins.
Dance movements include active head movements re-enacting warriors searching the ground for tracks of enemy or prey. Southern Straight is a regional variation with no bustle and a straighter dance style.
Jingle Dress dancers are women and girls who wear cloth dresses usually with 365 tin cones in a line or chevron pattern in rows. Their dance movements include a straight posture, an up and down motion and hopping or rocking with the feet moving in a rhythmic pattern.
Native American Hoop dance is performed by a solo dancer who constructions hoop formations around and about the body. Although originally a male-only dance form, in recent years women have become active participants in the hoop dance and in hoop dance competitions. Some scholars feel that the people of Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico were the first to do a dance in which the dancer moved through a hoop. It was originally performed as a part of private healing ritual and spiritual ceremonies. The patient would pass through the hoop and the pain or the sickness would be dismissed. Hoop dances have a healing role to restore balance and harmony to the world; these dances are generally not performed outside of healing ceremonies or for outsiders.
Today it has become a wide spread dance among Native Americans in the United States and the First Nations people of Canada. The dancers use dozens of small hoops to construct symbolic formations and symbolic representations of elements in the world such as the earth, the wind, and animals like eagle and the horse.
The hoop teaches us many things, primarily, having respect for all of life and life’s creations. It teaches us about the different cycles of life, the changing seasons upon Mother Earth, as well as the seasons of our own lives. All of life dances in a circle and we’re all connected.
The hoop has no beginning, and no end, symbolizing endless cycles of day and night, summer and winter. With no beginning or end, the hoop represents the never-ending circle of life. The hoop or circle is God’s mark on every aspect of creation.
Grass Dancers are men and boys who represent the flow of prairie grass in the wind by rocking, shaking, and swaying while their feet slide and hop. Long, flowing fringe or ribbons on their regalia represent the grass.
Northern Great Plains Grass
Dance style are unique and each style of regalia serves a specific purpose. Individual dancer attire will differ based on each dancer’s personal taste, family history, and /or tribal customs. Each dancer creates their regalia through hours of hard work with each component of the regalia having a personal significance. Often items are passed from one generation to the next or gifted to friends or relatives. Some items may be very, very old. A dancers regalia may also be referred to as an outfit, but never a costume, which would have negative connotations.