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Types of Aboriginal Dances

North American
Indigenous Games

Types of
Aboriginal Dances

Bush Life

Men’s Fancy Dance: The Men’s Fancy Dance originated in the southern United States. This dance was originally created for entertainment. The outfits are brightly coloured and the fast moves of the dances are very entertaining. http://www.sicc.sk.ca/saskindian/a97jun27.htm

Hoop Dance: When the Hoop Dance first originated it was performed by medicine men and spiritual leaders. Visions were seen through the hoops to cure ailments. Hoop dancers use dozens of hoops and dance with their own interpretation of an eagle, a snake, and a butterfly. http://www.sicc.sk.ca/saskindian/a97jun27.htm

Women’s Fancy Shawl Dance: “This is the most modern of the women's dances. Some say it was originally called the blanket dance and women danced with a blanket or shawl covering their heads. It was called Graceful Shawl dance in the '60s and the dance steps were closer to the ground and smaller than what is performed today. This is an extremely athletic and strenuous dance involving kicks and twirls and fast movement. It parallels the Men's Fancy Bustle dance in speed and style. Women dance with beautifully decorated shawls often with long ribbon or fabric fringe. The regalia of this dance also include beaded high moccasins. The symbols and colours beaded on the moccasins have tribal and or personal significance to the dancer.” http://www.tpt.org/powwow/womfancy.html

Men's Traditional Dance: “Danced with exaggerated movement above the waist to simulate hunting, tracking or fighting but heavy, grounded, flat-footed lower body, this dance originated with members of warrior societies on the Great Plains. Costume includes an eagle feather bustle and hair roach made of porcupine quills. While many tribal gatherings today work to join and unite tribes from across the continent, homogenizing some of the dances to suit all, Men's Traditional dance remains tribe specific in terms of style and dress.” http://www.thewildwest.org/native_american/art/index.html#Dance

Women's Traditional Dance: “This dance is extremely reserved in nature, simply a single or double step done in a circle. Sometimes an up and down movement is done while standing in place. Costume for Women's Traditional also remains tribal specific, sometimes with elaborate beadwork on long buckskin or trade cloth dresses.” http://www.thewildwest.org/native_american/art/index.html#Dance

Men's Grass Dance: “The Grass Dance was first done in the tall prairie of North Dakota at the turn of the 20th century. The costume is a shirt with a V-shaped yoke, lots of fringe on the pants, shirts, and headdress that might remind you of "antennae." No bustles are worn. Dancers sway from side to side facing forward around the circle.” http://www.thewildwest.org/native_american/art/index.html#Dance

Women's Jingle Dress: This dance is named “because the dress worn by participants does jingle. Rows of tin cones adorn the dress in patterns selected by the dancers, which include women of all ages. The tin cones are often made by rolling the heavy metal tops of snuff cans. It is said that a hundred years ago an Ojibwa (Chippewa) holy man had a vision in which four women appeared to him wearing jingle dresses. The dance also bears a resemblance to the Grass Dance, which seemed to originate at the same time. This dance is intertribal.” http://www.thewildwest.org/native_american/art/index.html#Dance

“Ladies' Traditional Buckskin Dance: Formerly the exclusive dance of the princesses and women in leadership roles, the Ladies' Traditional Buckskin Dance is now open to all women. Traditionally, this was a dance of the northern tribes, but is now danced by southern tribes as well. The northern dancer usually stays in one area, lightly bouncing to the beat of the drum, displaying dignity and grace.”

“The slower beat and step of the southern version of the dance is in sharp contrast to the faster dance of the northern tribes. The difference in rhythm makes it necessary for the Northern Traditional and Southern Buckskin to be danced as two events. At a given time during the song, the dancer salutes the drum with her fan in a beautiful expression, ‘the catching of the spirit of the drum.” http://www.powersource.com/gallery/objects/buck.html

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