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  • Question on dancing

    My husband is Lakota, he was never taught to dance and none of his family are dancers, but he wants to dance and he wants our daughter to dance someday too. Problem is, we're off the reservation, like 1700 miles away lol and his only chance of possibly learning to dance has ignored his emails.

    We do go to powwows and I see a lot of comments pointing to people that want to learn to dance should just go to a lot of powwows and get in there and dance, which he does. Here lies our other problem. The powwows put on here in Texas are mostly for show only and although the performers are more than willing to talk about their dance and regalia, they are not willing to teach and no one is allowed to get in the circle and dance while they are dancing. They do have open dances, don't get me wrong, but my husband wants to learn the grass dance and this is not an open dance. What to do? Will he just have to accept the seeming fact that he'll never have the chance to learn unless we make a special very expensive trip back to South Dakota so that he can get lessons for a few days from someone there? I just feel so bad for him, he wants to learn so badly and is about to give up so i'm coming here to ask advice because if anyone knows you guys would.

  • #2
    So to address the act of dancing only, there are DVD's out there which show basic dance steps and also provide footage and instruction for particular dance styles. I think that Full Circle Videos has a series of these. There are also videos here on powwows.com which feature grass dancers. I've also seen some vendors who will have DVD's of specific powwows and/or dance styles. My advice is likely more of what you've already heard. Go to powwows, maybe watch some video, get a sense of some common moves used by many of the dancers and start by learning these. It's important to not only focus on the footwork but on how the dancers carry themselves. What happens with their arms, head, posture, everything. Once he gets these common moves down, well the rest is largely up to him and the music. I think it's important to realize that the dancing isn't really choreographed but it is driven by the songs. The songs move the dancer and determine his actions. So it's also important to get some good music to dance to (you can also find CD's with only grass dance songs as well as CD's with more robust collections of powwow music). As he becomes more confident with the common moves, and as he begins to feel the songs, he may expand his dance moves and develop his own signature style of the dance. He likely can't find anyone to teach him because they don't want him to copy their style.

    Remember, I'm only discussing the act of dancing. As far as the meanings behind the dance or it's moves, or the right to perform the dance, well, that is a matter between him and his people. I might add that understanding the meanings of it will likely help him do it better.

    I hope that this helps. It would be good to hear other opinions.
    Last edited by hobbs49; 12-03-2008, 09:32 AM.
    "It doesn't really matter, they don't know any better anyway."

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    • #3
      Where are you at in Texas? I'm near the D/FW area and we have several pow wows that happen through out the year......none that I know that are closed pow wows.
      I would suggest continue on going to pow wows like you do, and get to know some of the folks that grass dance. Maybe someone could give your husband some suggestions.

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      • #4
        Also understand it will not be easy to do this without guidance
        Texas is not a large haven for Grass Dancers either....
        Its more of a Northern Dance so Grass Dancers will be sparse

        The advice Hobbs has passed on is a good start and certainly will get him started but at some point he will need to make a trip North.

        Another one is attend as many powwows as possible especially up closer to the Oklahoma border and even into Oklahoma whatever the budget will allow
        You may find someone that is will to pass on knowledge or have a better chance to find someone that will be willing to share
        ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ - Anigiduwagi
        Till I Die!

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        • #5
          There's quite a bit of pow wows going on in Texas. There are some reputable ones, and not so reputable ones. Anyhow....many dancers learn from just observing, so it's best to go to any pow wow and observe the dance styles.
          Bead All You Can Bead

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          • #6
            Thank you very much, that was really helpful!

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            • #7
              We're in San Antonio. Thanks for your suggestion!

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              • #8
                Tell him not to give up. I was not raised in our Culture either. When I decided to dance I went to lots of Pow wows and asked quetions. As I made friends with the other dancers and som of the Elders I found they are more than happy to help.
                ClothDancer02

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rouss3 View Post
                  We're in San Antonio. Thanks for your suggestion!
                  Well, can't help you much there........but I do know there are several pow wows down in south Texas and one I believe in San Antonio called the Greater San Antonio pow wow........seems like it's usually in February.
                  There was just a really good one back at the first of November in Austin PASSING DOWN THE LEGACY that is an excellent pow wow to go to every year. I saw several grass dancers there this year.
                  Basically, just keep on like your doing. You might try hitting someof the Oklahoma pow wows.
                  Good luck........hope he can learn more.

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