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You Are Here: Front Page > Educational > Learn About Powwow Dancers: Page 2 of 7 - Women's Fancy Shawl  

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These pages will give you an overview of just some of the Powwow Dancing found at the Gathering of Nations and other competitions.

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Native American Lakota star  Women's Fancy Shawl Native American Lakota star

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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 contemporary society.

As 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, ribbon, and 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 change.

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.

The 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 showmanship.

Women's Fancy Shawl Dancer
Women's Fancy Shawl Dancer

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