DANCE STYLES

Dances have traditions or legends connected to them. They are either for men or women and competitions are divided into age and style categories.

Men´s Grass Dance — The grass dance tells of it originating from the movements of the early scouts seeking a site. When the grass was high in new areas, scouts would dance a special way to flatten it and make it acceptable for a new camp or meeting site. It also reflects warrior movements such as a stalking game or an enemy (including a movement representing one of the warrior’s legs being staked, unable to move, and battling with this leg in a held position). Strands of yarn or ribbon hang from the dancer’s arms and waist representing grass. The dance motion flows like the rippling prairie grass. A headdress called a “roach” is worn with two feathers attached in such a way, they rock or twirl as the dancer moves. The dancer must move with the beat of the drum ending with both feet on the ground on the final beat.

Women´s Traditional — This stately dance involves a slow-moving or non-moving bouncing step, rhythmically dipping and swaying to the beat of the drum. Dresses of buckskin, wool or other material are heavily decorated with beading, quill work, elk teeth, bone, antler or shells. The colors for this dance tend to be more subdued than in other dance styles. Women’s Fancy/Shawl — The young women who dance this style wear elaborately beaded capes, moccasins and leggings that are usually complemented by beautifully embroidered or decorated long-fringed shawls. The colorful regalia match the spirited movements of this exuberant dance.

Men´s Traditional — This dance comes from a long history of imitation of the animal spirit world. The eagle feather bustles, the grouse feathers, the deer and elk and the porcupine headdress are all a portion of this wonderful dance. This is a time for the traditions of our grandmothers and grandfathers to be carried out. Some regalia pieces have been passed down many generations reflecting items worn by early warriors. Men’s Fancy Dance — Became popular in the early 1960’s in Oklahoma. The Kiowa/Comanche people began to design special outfits for the whirling and jumping aspect of young men in their efforts to identify a fancy dance or fast war dance. It is a very unique, active and energetic dance of young men. In this dance in particular, a friendly competition may develop between the singers and the dancers because stopping with the end beat can mean winning or losing points. The singers perform “trick songs” with unexpected last beats.

Women´s Jingle — The Jingle Dance has its own legend. They say that an old man on his deathbed dreamt of his daughter clothed in a dress with cones sewn around the cloth. Spirits told him how to make those cones. Then he dreamt that his daughter and three of her friends were dancing in those dresses. He recovered and recalled the sight and sound of the metal cones, so he taught his daughter how to make the special dresses. And, so, the lyrical Jingle Dance was born.


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