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Straight dance style

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  • Straight dance style

    I've noticed there are several different "styles" of dance. Some are ultra smooth and others more bouncy. Some styles look more like how a tail dancer would dance. Can anyone explain these differences? Are they tribal specific? Is the Glide step more a plains thing? Something I've always been curious about.

    On a related note, what should a good trot style look like?

  • #2
    The qualities of a good straight dancer have been discussed previously on this forum. I don't know the history of the glide, but in the 1960's in Oklahoma, I saw the glide done by Colonel Moore, Pawnee; Smokey Lookout, Osage; and Newman Little Walker, Ponca. Abe Conklin had his own version where he floated the stepping-forward foot before letting it descend. I think the glide is Southern Plains, and may have developed between 1920 and 1950 (just a guess).

    The bouncier dancing may be a more recent development to catch the judge's eye in contests. Harragarra had some of that.

    One time, Abe Conklin was watching a good straight dancer who was using a regular toe-flat step; nothing wrong with that really. However, toward the end of the song, Abe said, "I wonder if that's the only step he knows." I took that to mean that if a dancer were versitile enough, he could use change-ups during a song; ie., glide; toe-flat; flat-flat, glide/float to give a little pizzaz to the routine.

    Our Ponca nudahonga, Damon Roughface, has begun to dance the trot as a wounded warrior dance, emphasizing the stressed beat on the song to give the appearance of a lame dancer. I haven't had a chance to discuss this with him, but I think it derives from an old Ponca way, whereas I think the Southwestern Oklahoma trots are intended to "show off a horse you stole."

    In none of the above have I talked about body angles, direction of movement, nor head, shoulder, and arm movement. That has been discussed in previous posts, but it is hard to put into words.


    • #3
      Thank You

      I appreciate you sharing some of the straight dance history. I'm a relatively young man but even in the time I've been around, I've seen a lot of changes, in my opinion brought on by the big money dances. It seems that the bouncy style seems to win over the smooth style more often than not, so more people adopt it. I think also, when I'm outside Oklahoma is when I see dancers doing some kinda crazy things and WINNING with it. Other tribes adopt this style and maybe have never been to OKlahoma to see straight dancing done properly. Judges are chosen for their name and not for their knowledge of the style.


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