June 01, 2007

Origin of the hoop dance

History of the modern Hoop Dance

By Dennis ZotighMany tribes lay claim to the Hoop Dance. It wasn't until the 1930s that a young man named Tony White Cloud, Jemez Pueblo, played an instrumental role in its evolution and began using multiple hoops in a stylized version as "founder of the modern Hoop Dance."

He used five hoops made of willow wood bent to form a circle. These hoops were approximately 24 inches in diameter, enough to get his small frame through. Through this new art form, he invented hoop formations to symbolize traditional designs and teachings that were a part of his culture and traditional pueblo upbringing. The hoop designs that White Cloud invented are still the foundation of hoop formations and routines in modern Hoop dancing. American Indians saw his modern multiple Hoop dances in his performances in the 1930s in the American Indian Exposition in Anadarko, Okla., the Gallup Indian Ceremonial in New Mexico and Chicago's Railroad Fair, and adapted it in their own Indian dance shows for the public.

White Cloud made a cameo performance of his Hoop Dance to the American public in the 1942 movie "Valley of the Sun," starring Lucille Ball. During World War II, White Cloud traveled with Gene Autry across America and Europe promoting war bonds to fund the war effort by performing the Hoop Dance. He later danced in Autry's movie, "Apache Country," in 1952.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
It entirely is possible that, when first the dance was performed, someone said, "Hoop -- there it is! Hoop -- there it is!"
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

Sam Schneider writes to clarify this posting:

I just want to let you know that White Cloud is Clemente, Vivian, Samy (my grandfather), Tony, and Valentino Fragua, their father and my great-grandfather. They were known as the White Cloud Brothers who appeared all over the states. And in the movie Valley of The Sun, it was my grandfather (Samy Fragua) who made the main hoop-dancing cameo appearance.