Elaborately beaded capes, moccasins and leggings are complemented by beautifully embroidered or decorated
long fringed shawls. The colorful outfits match the spirited twirling and prancing of this exuberant dance.
Although there are more than one version
of the origin of Women’s Fancy Dance, its evolution
has been witnessed by the public in the pow-wow arena.
One anecdote relates that women were dancing in men's
fancy dance regalia, and when they began to enter
competition and beat the men, it was decided that they
should have their own dance. Now women's fancy dance
features a fast pace and the distinctive brightly
colored shawl. The shawl itself is an adaptation of
the blanket carried or worn traditionally by women.
Native culture is still practiced daily even in
an active living culture, it is dynamic and has grown
and changed with the times. Fancy dance regalia shows
that while maintaining the basic forms and designs of
the past, new materials such as sequins,
fabric and new styles can be combined with beadwork,
quills, and feathers resulting in regalia that still
expresses unique Native identity.
It was originally
danced in the northern part of Indian country by a few
brave women, who were sometimes ostracized or booed
for their efforts by traditionalists resistant to
It gradually gained acceptance
over many years and has adapted to its present form.
The dance itself is a combination of intricate
footwork that is choreographed extemporaneously in
response to the beat and tone of the music form the
drum and singers.
appropriate style of this dance is one of a constant
whirl of beauty and grace, rather than wild movements.
In addition to style and footwork, judges will look
for endurance, agility, and a good measure of