Native American Dance Steps

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Native American Dancers on American Prairie Reserve

Most, if not all, Native American dances are focused on following the distinct rhythm of a musical instrument - usually a drum. The Fancy War dance is a great example of this, as the steps are in sync with the drum beat while the head and body flow of the dancer is a free form of emotion.

Dancers must be able to adjust their movements and mental state to the varying speeds and rhythms of the beat, and the dance is truly based in individuality. This dance was used as a form of personal expression in early Native American cultures, and this aspect is still strongly embraced today. One of several nature-based dances, the Grass Dance is best performed with fluid and graceful choreography.

Representative of "harmony in the universe," body motions simulate the movements of long prairie grass blowing with a spring wind. The drum beat is the "mover" and the dancer's body is the blade of grass responding to this invisible push. Founded among Canadian tribes, the Jingle Dress dance has recently made its way into American festivals, prompting recognition and celebration of all Native Americans as opposed to those within the United States.

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A spiritual dance performed by ladies only, the Jingle Dress dance is extremely colorful and also provides its own music via the bell-like fringe found on the dancer's costume. The Ghost Dance The Ghost Dance was part of a mystical ceremony and ritual that was initiated by two Paiute prophets called Wodziwob and Wovoka to re-establish the Native Indian culture and to bring an end to the westward expansion of whites and a return of the land to the Native American Indians. The ceremonies lasted for five successive days and Ghost dancers underwent rituals that resulted in hypnotic trances.

'Pure love on the dance floor': Celebrating the jingle dress tradition

The Ghost Dancers wore special shirts which the Native Americans believed could not be pierced by the bullets of enemy soldiers and each dancer wore a symbolic Crow feather in his hair. The movement spread to many other tribes and was a central feature among the Sioux tribe just prior to the massacre of Wounded Knee and the end of the Sioux Wars - For additional facts and information refer to the legend and story of Crazy Horse , and Sitting Bull.

The Scalp Dance Women also played important roles in ceremonies such as the Scalp Dance which were performed by women, such as those of the Spokane tribe , as a public act of revenge.

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A woman who wanted revenge would whirl around a fire flailing the scalp of the enemy and kicking in revenge. She was attended by other women who danced and chanted, as did the rest of the tribe, to the beat of drums. The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Native American Dance.

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Native American Dance Fact Sheet for kids. Native American Dance. Round dances were a way of introducing guests, tribes, and clans. Celebrations would last for up to four days, with dance, feasts, story telling, and teaching of social etiquette.

Men’s Traditional Straight Dances

We dance for many reasons. Some dancers feel called or compelled to dance. Others are encouraged to dance by others. We dance for those who cannot dance; elders who do not have the strength or stamina to dance, those who are sick and weak, others who may be having a bad day — we dance and pray for them.

It does not matter, why you dance, if you are good and people enjoy watching you, dance!

Native American Dance Steps -

Dancing is a good thing, because it shows honor and respect to our ancestors, our elders, our community, and most of all to our Creator. Oh life is like a sacred circle, when we walk the good Red Road. We dance to pray, we pray to heal, we heal to live, we live to dance. Regalia is an expression of each individual dancer, and takes time to build.

Adornments are often hand made, by the dancer, or passed down from family members or another dancer.