I get asked about rain dances. I get asked about rain dances a lot. Just today I was asked how many rain dances have I done. Well in all honesty I have never performed a rain dance. Not one time. I have never even seen a rain dance, so I have not the first clue as to how to perform a rain dance. On the other hand; I am absolutely forbidden to touch any rain sticks at local outdoor powwows. Rain sticks are cool. I used to own one, till Jonette threw it out.
Well that got me thinking about dancing and what dances I have done.
I am a Northern Traditional dancer so that means I have performed at every powwow I have danced at.
- Northern traditional dance – duh
- Sneak up/ruffle dance – this is a war dance and is one of my least favorite dances.
- Crow Hop – I love this dance, it is my favorite. I had real trouble learning how to do it till a fellow dancer shouted at me to “jump” and away I went.
- Round/Friendship dance – this is a staple at all powwows. Everyone locks hands and dances in a big circle
- Two step – this is a couples dance
- Intertribal/honor dances – this is just your very basic dance.
I have performed other dances as well.
- Buffalo Dance – thank you Pueblo Cultural Center, but you could have chosen someone who was not a dancer when grabbing volunteers from the audience.
- Horse Dance – My good friend Ted Cleveland sprung this one on me at a small powwow. I was head man dancer and he was MC. I stood there till he shouted Crow Hop. Yea thanks Ted!
- Potato Dance – Jonette and I have yet to lose at this comedy competition dance. The dancers are in couples and the place a potato between their foreheads and they dance until the potato drops to the ground. Last couple still dancing wins a sack of slightly bruised potatoes.
- Fancy Shawl Dance – this is where the MC has the fancy shawl dancers find a male dancer and puts their shawl over his shoulders. The chosen male dancer must then perform a “fancy shawl dance”. If you ever want to clear an area of men during a powwow just call for this.
I should put my 2 years at the Halau Hula Puanani Ohelohelo group here in Denver. It was great fun but I had to drop attendance because of time issues and also because the singing of Hawaiian music was too similar to my Lakota singing and it was confusing me, so I had to make a hard choice. I miss hula.
My last dance is Sun Dance, unlike all the dances listed above this is a ceremonial dance and not social in any way. The dance has been portrayed in numerous films and countless books. These accounts are generally very poor and lead to widespread misunderstanding of what the dance is and why people dance. If you are ever lucky enough to be invited to support a sun dance it is a rare opportunity and you should ask the person inviting you as to the details of dress and behavior that is expected during the ceremony.
Everybody dance! Hoka!