For well over 50 years in the United States and Canada—and for centuries in Latin America—church and “civilization” regulations discouraged and even outlawed many indigenous dances. Not until the second half of the 20th century were such prohibitions fully reversed. Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, many Native communities continue to preserve their traditions involving dance.
Circle of Dance will interpret the traditions of social, ceremonial and spiritual dances highlighting the significance of each dance and the unique characteristics of its movements and music. Each dance will be showcased by a single mannequin dressed in appropriate regalia and posed in a distinctive dance position. An accompanying media piece will complement and enhance the mannequin displays. Presenting the range of dances featured in the exhibition this high-definition video will capture the variety of the different Native dance movement vocabularies, and the music that is integral to their performance.
“These diverse social, ceremonial and spiritual dances are essential in maintaining the spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of tribal communities,” said Kevin Gover, Pawnee/Comanche, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “This exhibition will demonstrate what an important tool dance is to the expression and vitality of Native peoples.”
Below: "Northern Traditional Dancer, Terry Fiddler (Cheyenne River Sioux), National Museum of the American Indian National Powwow, 2007. Photograph by Katherine Fogden (Mohawk)."