Traditional dancers are exactly what the name implies; they are old style dancers using old style materials in their outfit. Traditional dancer use their movement to tell stories of the hunt and combat.
Early on Sunday morning, 9AM is very early on a powwow weekend, there was a veterans dance special. Vets from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were asked to assemble and dance. Lakota’s, like all other Native nations, still highly honor their veterans and warriors. A small group of dancers dressed out and participated. The following is a pictorial representation of their story…
The dance begins, warriors bent over looking for evidence of their quarry. They move slowly, hunched over looking for the tracks or other signs of an enemy’s passage.
Tracks are found! The dancers are now more mobile still looking at the signs but moving towards their targets. It is time to chase something down.
Once the target is acquired the battle is engaged. The dancers range in a smaller area, body movements are exaggerated, dodging, weaving, and spinning to get the advantage over their foe.
The enemy is finally but inevitably finished off with a final blow or shot.
The dancers then celebrate their victory, their survival, to live another day!
There are other stories as well. Hunts and the rescue of a fallen warrior are also danced.
Many years ago I was dancing at Daniel’s Park Tall Bull Memorial Grounds just south of Denver. At the time there was a very large light post in the exact center of the dance arbor. There were 5 or so other dancers out there with me and we were given a sneakup song. We all started dancing in our own way; there was no communication between us. At some point near the end of the song we all decided that the light pole was our enemy and on the very last beat of the drum we all struck the pole with our dance sticks. As the song died out we stood there and looked at each other as smiles crept over our faces, we had all danced the same story. It remains one of those very strange synchronis, yes apparently I just made that word up and I like it so it will stay, moments in my life.