Native Pride Dancers: Dancing through Life
We are an internationally known high-energy show featuring an innovative blend of modern and traditional Native American dance styles. Our performers' regalia are adorned with vivid assortments of brightly-colored ribbons, feathers, and beads, and furs; all of which honor our nations' elders and the legacy of our traditional arts. Our dance is contemporary, yet primal, as we use every muscle and breath to express our rich, cultural heritage.
We offer a variety of dance types from solo to large ensemble productions designed for classrooms as well as theaters. Our programs are customized to support and enhance curriculum standards for History, Social Studies, Performing Arts, Physical Education, and Social Behaviors. Based in Minnesota, the Native Pride Dancers represent a proud and vibrant tradition for local, national and international audiences.
A sample of our repertoire includes:
– The 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics
– The Kennedy Center
– The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian
– 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
– Minnesota State Fair - Annually
– NBA Halftime events including: Atlanta Dream vs Chicago Sky
– Schools, colleges, universities, festivals and Powwows throughout the U.S., Brazil, Australia, Japan and France. etc.
– Guthrie Theater
– Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
As a solo singer, eagle dancer and mens fancy dancer, Larry has performed throughout the world including Japan, Australia, France, Ireland, Brazil, Guatemala, Republic of Moldova, and the Kingdom of Jordon. His captivating energy and enthusiasm inspires others.
"Mr. Yazzie, the memory of what I've felt won't be leaving me. You're one of a few people that I've had the opportunity to meet and watch who radiates passion for life and an awareness of being, and you inspire me deeply. And so, from the depths of my heart, thank you. I know you inspire many people; what you have to teach is so rarely taught here, and so valuable!" — Letter received from a college student
We bring dance, music and storytelling to indigenous communities and global audiences to enhance cultural exchange and artistic freedom. Here are a few examples of our dance:
The Fancy Dance is usually performed by young men, and was originated in the 1950s to attract Powwow visitors. The Fancy Dance is also known as the Bustle Dance, and is said to have come from Oklahoma. This dance is very flashy and colorful, and is the fastest movement than any other dance, and therefore requires that the dancer has stamina, strength and coordination.
What distinguishes the Fancy Dance is the outfit worn by the dancer, with a twin bustle, decorated with colorful fringe that flows freely while performing the ruffle with fast foot movements. The colorful fringe is said to represent the Rainbow Spirit. The headdress roach that the dancer wears has two feathers that are moving at all times while dancing, and at times, the dancer's face is not seen because of the flowing fringe. Dancers also carry decorated coup sticks.
The Hoop Dance
The hoop is a symbol of "the never-ending circle of life", it has no beginning, and no end. The Hoop Dance is used in traditional healing ceremonies in many tribes across North America. The significance of the hoop only enhances its embodiment of healing ceremonies. For many years, the Hoop Dance has evolved to incorporate new and creative movements and intricate footwork. The Hoop Dance made its modern transition when Tony White Cloud, Jemez Pueblo, played a pivotal role in the evolution of the dance, and began using multiple hoops in a stylized version as 'founder of the modern Hoop Dance'.
Each dancer may have their own unique interpretation of the intertribal Hoop Dance. The dancer can present the dance using as few as four to as many as 50 hoops. The hoops are manipulated to make many different designs such as animals, butterflies and globes. The dancers are judged on five skills: precision, timing/rhythm, showmanship, creativeness and speed.
The Chicken Dance
The Chicken dance is one of the oldest dances, and started as a religious society known as the "Kiitokii Society". The origins of this dance come from the Blackfoot Country, and the dance is said to have come from the prairie chicken's spring time mating dance.
The traditional regalia worn by the chicken dancers have not changed much; with regalia that includes a head roach, breech cloth, round bells, and a small feather bustle. The dance is done in mimicking the mating dance of the Prairie Chicken that we see in the prairies.
The legend of the Chicken dance comes from a young Blackfoot man, who went on a hunting trip. He came across some birds dancing in the tall grass. The man was very hungry, and he shot and killed one of the birds with his bow and arrow. The man brought the bird back to his family to eat. As the man was sleeping, he had a dream. The spirit of the prairie chicken that he killed came to him, and asked why he had killed the bird. The man replied that he needed to feed his family.
The prairie chicken told the man that he would teach him a dance, and he was to go out and teach all the people this dance. If the man did not do what he was told, the prairie chicken would come back and kill the man. This was the deal that was made between the prairie chicken and this man for taking the life of the prairie chicken, and has become a very sacred dance.
The Grass Dance
The Grass Dance is said to have originated with the Omaha Tribe. Stories told of the dance tell us that this dance is known as ceremonial. In the South, tribes believe it was connected to a warrior society and that scalps were attached to the dancers' clothing to celebrate a victorious battle.
To the northern tribes, the Grass Dance is said to be a blessing ceremony for new ground. The dancers trampled the ground to prepare for a village or a gathering, and grass was tied to the dancer. The fringe attached to the dancer's regalia sways with the movement as if to inspire the natural movement of tall prairie grass.
This dance is represents the balance of life, thus the dancer performs the same movement on either the right or left. The regalia worn by the dancer is covered with yarn and ribbons that sway, and he wears lots of color.
Men's Northern Traditional Dance
The Men's Traditional is a simulation of the warrior preparing for battle. Part of the Men's Traditional Dance is the Crow or Sneak-Up dances. The dancer carries an eagle feather fan and a staff and wears a single bustle, arms bands and a roach with a single feather, as well as bells on his ankles. Throughout the dance, he will crouch down close to the ground and stand up. A drummer will use heavy strokes that depict the sounds of gunfire during the dance.
Each tribe has their own unique form of the Traditional dance, but the Lakota is credited with the Traditional Dance and many regions have adapted some form of the Lakota version.
Women's Fancy Shawl Dance
This dance is inspired by the movement of butterflies; the Fancy Shawl Dance is somewhat new to the Powwow circuit, starting around the 1950s and 1960s. The dance has intricate footwork, and spinning that show the fringe on the shawl, as well as the colors of the dancer's outfit. This style is said to have arisen when women wanted to have a dance that would attract attention, much like the Men's Fancy Dance has done.
The Fancy Shawl Dance was first called the Graceful Shawl Dance and did not include fast movement or high stepping. Today the dancer executes energetic twirls and high steps to a rapid drum beat.
The dresses are made of light fabric to give the appearance that the dancer is floating, as well as to prevent the dancer from overheating. Most of the Fancy Shawl dancers do not wear leggings but calf-high moccasins. The most important element of the outfit is the shawl, and must extend from hand to hand, when the dancer's arms are outstretched.
Women's Jingle Dance
The Jingle Dance is also known as the Healing Dance, and originated with the Ojibwe in the Great Lakes region.
The dress worn by the dancer is said to have originated as a way of healing a medicine man's granddaughter. The medicine man had a dream one night, and received direction so he told women of his camp to make a jingle dresses in several different colors. The women danced as they prayed and the medicine man's granddaughter was healed.
The beautiful jingle dress is covered in rolled-up, snuff-can/tin lids attached with colored ribbons. The jingles are placed closed enough to hit one another, creating a musical sound similar to rain fall. The jingles are attached to soft cloth like a taffeta, or cotton. The dancer does not do high stepping or fancy footwork, instead, she performs simple zigzag steps, that make the jingles sway. The dancer is poised and strong and her footwork is smooth and graceful.
Women's Traditional Dance
Traditional Women dancers are seen as elegant, and looked upon with reverence at a Powwow. The Traditional dance exemplifies dignity, grace, and modesty. The movement can be dance several ways. Some move in a bounce style; originated by the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota of the north. Some dancers prefer the zigzag, or side step in a circle around the arena, always with a bounce movement. The dancer's feet never rise above the ground.
The dress worn by this dancer is simple, yet elegant, with the woman holding an eagle feather fan, which they raise in the air from time to time as the songs indicate. The song has an honor beat to show respect and honor for the men and the drum.
The women also wear a shawl that they keep close to their bodies, often with intricate bead work in a pattern to reflect their family and tribe, they also carry an owl and knife on their belt.
We welcome local and visiting artists to join us. And we would love to share our performance art with your school, festival or community event. Native Pride Dancers also offers flute playing and storytelling in which our artists share legends, traditions and teach respect for Mother Earth.