Fancy dance

Fancy dance

Fancy dance or pan-Indian dancing is a style of dance some believe was originally created by members of the Lakota peoples around the turn of the 20th Century in an attempt to preserve their culture and religion at a time when practicing it was largely illegal. It is loosely based on the sacred Sun dance and War dance. Fancy dance was considered appropriate to be performed for visitors to reservations and at "Wild West" shows.

According to the annual Pow Wow Guide, published by Indian Country Today, both the Fancy Shawl Dance (a women's dance) and the Men's Fancy Dance started in the 1950s and 1960s as a response to the desire of the dancers in older, traditional categories, to have a newer dance that would attract attention.

Men's Fancy dance is flashy and colorful, but also highly energetic. It requires strength and stamina and is usually performed by younger men and boys. Male Fancy dancers typically wear brightly-colored regalia. Twin feather bustles are one of the hallmarks of modern fancy dance regalia, along with a beaded bodice, leggings, bells just below the knees, moccasins, and other feathered or beaded accouterments. The regalia often has a fringe of many colors, said to represent the Rainbow Spirit.

The women's Fancy Shawl Dance is said to represent the movements of a butterfly. It features intricate movement and spinning to show off the fringe of the colorful fancy shawl. The dancer strives to appear to be 'floating on air." The shawl is the most important part of the outfit, it should stretch from hand to hand. The regalia includes a skirted dress and may include leggings.

The popularity of fancy dance - sometimes as a competitive sport - has spread, and is now practiced by many Native American tribes (hence the name, "pan-Indian dancing").

External links

* [ Men's Fancy Dance] , "Wacipi Powwow", Twin Cities Public Television
* [ Menominee Fancy Dance Bustle] , c. 1982, Wisconsin State Historical Society

Another story of how women's fancy shawl came around is because they also competed in the men's fancy feather category. The women seemed to be able to compete and win so it seemed that by keeping a women's shawl around her, let her spin and kick. This is how women's fancy shawl came around to the wacipi circle, it doesn't have anything to do with a butterfly.

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