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Minnesota, United States
As I walk along in life, my muses dance with reflection inspiring me to release the thoughts and emotions of my pondering mind through poetry.

Prompt Poetry & Promotion page for The River

*plus the archive of my older poetry

Monday, September 20, 2010

5 ~Dancers of Past & Present ~

I wake Sunday morning to a silent camp, an odor of freshly made coffee drifts through the air. I stumble from our tent gravitating towards the smell coming from the camp next to us. The trail ends at our friend’s camper. I am offered a piping hot cup of coffee and a seat by the fire with conversation. No one stirs in our camp until I am on my second cup making my way back. Katrina is climbing out of our tent as well as a couple of our fellow campers.
I stoke the fire while Katrina is settling into her chair. Looking around I notice we all are sun touched and tired from the long and exciting day yesterday. We have another full day awaiting us. A wonderful day with the beats of the drums and the movements of the dancers.
“What a beautiful morning,” I pronounce to Katrina and my two friends. “It’s going to be a colorful autumn if this weather continues.” They all nod in agreement with me.
“I’m going to go risk the cold and take a shower,” exclaims Mike. “It’s early maybe there’s some warm water left.”
“I am too,” adds Mary.
They both head out with their bathroom bags leaving Katrina and I sitting by the fire.
“I think it’s important I explain the different dance styles today. This morning, I could give you a run down and then during the powwow this afternoon, I will point them out. How’s that sound to you?” I ask her.
“That sounds perfect. I was wondering about them yesterday but we were focused in a different direction. There is a lot to know about powwows. I had no idea,” admits Katrina.
“Yeah, there is even more. That will have to be for next time,” I tell her. “Now, it is time for the dancers. You probably noticed there are men and women categories. The children and teenagers dance the same styles as the adults. It is important to know that each dancer dances their category with their own personal style. Of course, there are standards to bide by with dress and dance. It is best to lean towards more of a traditional or conservative way of dress.”
“I would like to start explaining the different styles of dance with the women then move on to the men….”
“Women, teenagers, and girls have three categories of styles of dance. Jingle, Fancy Shawl, and Women Traditional. The Jingle Dress is a healing dress. An Ojibwe Midewin man had a dream…But I will ask my friend Betty if she would tell the story to you tonight around the fire. She’s awesome at telling it. Jingle Dress Story Later, I will point out some Jingle Dress dancers in the circle. An adult woman makes her dress with 365 cones on it to represent the days of the year. Some have elk teeth and shells. I love the sounds they make when a woman is dancing.”
“The Fancy Shawl is a beautiful dance mimicking the movements of a Butterfly with quick steps that are so light it barely looks as if she touches the ground. Young women yearned for a stylistic approach to traditional dance. In the 1950’s they began dancing Fancy Shawl with the colors, fringe, and movements.” Fancy Shawl Dance
“The most beautiful and oldest women style of dance is Women Traditional or Buckskin. There are cloth and ribbon Women Traditional dancers too. Both styles dance tall and proud with small light steps that never fully leave the ground signifying their connection to Mother Earth. These women are the “backbone” of the nation.” Both Women Traditional Dance
“Men, teenagers, and boys have four categories of styles of dance. Mens Traditional, Grass Dancer, Fancy, and Chicken Dancer. The Chicken Dancers is a traditional religious dance that mimics the prairie chicken. Story In the north where I attend powwows it is not common to see more than one at a powwow but this is not the case everywhere.” Dance
“Mens Fancy Dancers are colorful spirited dancers with quick footwork and high jumps. They have two multi colored bustles and ribbon whips to emphasize their movements. It is not a traditional dance with its birth in the 1920’s.” Dance
“Grass Dance is a traditional dance that mimics the prairie grass blowing in the wind. They were the people asked to go stomp down the grass in the arena by dancing before a powwow. Traditionally, grass was hung off of a belt and today the outfits are made with yarn.” Dance1 Dance2
“Mens Traditional dancers tell hunting and war stories through dance or character. They preserve an old way of dancing. In the traditional past, only a few dignified warriors wore a roach and bustle distinguishing them has Traditional Dancers. Today, a Mens Traditional Dancer is known the same way.” Dance There are  different styles of Mens Traditional.
Later that day……
“We have pay out and dancing the flags out left then the Powwow is over.” I tell Katrina as Willow comes walking up with her dance money in hand. She hands over half of it and goes on her merry way to catch up to her friends.
Katrina looks at me funny. “They pay the dancers for coming and dancing. It is the way people can keep up with their regalia and get to the powwows.” I explain.
“What was your favorite part?” I ask Katrina.
“Ummm,” Katrina says lost in thought as my category is called for pay out.
“I will be right back.” I tell her heading out into the circle.
As I am walking up to her ten minutes or so later, Katrina announces to me with a wide smile, “I can’t narrow it down to just one favorite. There are at least a handful of my most favorite moments.”
An hour later, we were flying down the highway blaring Keith Secola again this time heading home. I lean towards Katrina telling her, “Katrina, you are welcome to come anytime with Willow and I to a powwow.”
She lights up replying, “I would love to come again! There is so much more for me to learn and see plus I have never laughed so hard as I have this weekend. Thank you for inviting me!”
I smile back wondering why I had not heard a sound from Willow for a while. I check on her in the rear view mirror and she’s sound asleep. Katrina and I look at each other giggling relating to the light snores from the backseat.

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