Powwow dances and outfits

Chenoa Littlewolf, Reporter

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Powwow fancy dancer CropedA powwow is a social gathering that has feasting, singing and dancing. Tribes and communities with a Native American population will host these events for the public. Some dancers and singers travel all over the U.S. and Canada to participate and compete in powwows. Each dance category has its own dress/dance style.
One thing about Native American powwows that people find the most interesting is the style of the clothes. While the dances are unforgettable, but the color and design of the clothes can be intricate. Many different patterns are sewn and/or hand beaded onto the outfits. The colors follow the main part of the outfit, repeating itself all over the dancer’s outfit, for example, in the shawls or the headdress. The outfits the dancers wear can take months to create; dancers have two or maybe even three outfits.
Men’s Fancy: These dancers are known for their stamina, high jumps and their spins. Men’s fancy always excites the crowd. Dancer’s dance a very strategic dance with their lightning-fast reflexes. The most obvious items in the outfit are the back bustles. They also have great amounts of loom-beaded accessories including suspenders, belts, cuffs, headbands, and armbands. The designs usually match in all items and use all colors of the rainbow.
Women’s Fancy or “Butterfly Dance”: This is a contemporary form of women’s dancing. The women wear brightly colored shawls draped around their shoulders. The dance involves twirls and kicks and is a very strategic dance much like the men’s fancy. The shawl is very colorful and has long ribbons hanging from the bottom, the pattern on the dress has some significance to the person or their tribe. Fancy shawl dancers have incorporated many newer materials into their regalia such as cut glass beads, rhinestones, sequins, ribbon and fabric.
Men’s Grass Dance: This Dance originates from the high plains states which are known for their tall grass. The outfit is made of yarn or ribbon. The dance is meant to look like the swaying of tall prairie grasses.
Traditional: This dance is one of the women’s oldest form of dancing. The dress is created using all handcrafted buckskin. The women carry a fringed shawl draped over one arm. They also wear breastplates made from hair bone pipe, Glass beads can hang to the waist or all the way to the ankles. The dance is slow and poised. The woman dance in rhythm with the drum by slightly bending at their knees which make their leather fringes move in a beautiful, breezy, swaying motion.
Women’s Jingle Dress: The dress is made up of soft cloth and decorated with hundreds of shiny, melted snuff can lids or silver bells all over the dress. Usually 400-700 or 365 (for every day of the year) bells make up a whole dress. Dancers sometimes wear eagle or other feathers and carry a fan which is raised during the song. The dance is made up of zigzagging footwork patterns, with the dancer’s hands on their hips during the song. The contemporary style of this dance features intricate, controlled footwork and dancers demonstrate elegance, patience and grace.