Several thoughts came to mind when we saw this particular photo challenge. After some consideration, we ended up going back to a subject that we did a post on not that long ago, Native American dancers. Obviously the photograph is from pre-digital days, so the quality is probably not what you’re used to for most of our posts, but that doesn’t make it any less poignant as far as we’re concerned. Their dance combines nature, history, culture in a rhythmically mesmerizing swirl that is truly hypnotizing.
There are probably a lot of nature pictures we could have chosen to demonstrate a world in harmony, but instead we decided to share one of our concert photographs. We are avid music fans and go to a lot of concerts, but one of our favorites is the Van’s Warped Tour. We were watching a band called Breathe Carolina and they tossed out these large beach balls into the crowd. As you can see, everyone in the crowd had a wonderful time as they swayed in harmony with the band. It was one of those “feel good” moments that makes you happy inside.
We’ve been fortunate to see Native American dances a couple of times during our travels throughout Colorado. The first was actually when the kids were very young and we went to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. The other was when we were in the four corners area, which also provides you the opportunity to buy jewelry and other souvenirs that help to support members of that tribe’s reservation. The beautiful thing about Native American dance is that each dance has a special meaning, whether for prayer, mythology, telling a story, or celebration. Each dance can be accompanied by beating drums, the whistle of a flute, the chanting of the tribe members, or even bells and rattles. (Sorry for the quality of the pictures, they were from pre-digital days.)
As the drums begin to play, it is as if your heart falls in rhythm to each beat as the dancers began their graceful movements. In their ceremonial garments, each member of the dance troop has a role to play and from the youngest to the oldest, they take their dance traditions very seriously. When the chanting begins, you are carried away to a different time and place. You are no longer in the twenty-first century, but instead you are transported back to a time when buffalo still roamed the plains and the Native American tribes were the only people to inhabit North America.
As a dancer sweeps across the dance area, spreading his feathered wings, he is no longer a dancer, but is instead a great eagle surveying the land and homes of the tribe’s forefathers. Warriors take to the battlefield as they recount the brave deeds done in a battle fought long ago, but not forgotten by the victorious tribe as they pay homage to their fallen heroes. Dance and storytelling are part of the Native American heritage. It is a way for them to not only embrace their culture, but to bring pride to their incredible history and traditions.
There are also dances, like the hoop dance, that were used to prepare young warriors or hunters for the agility and stealth required for their adulthood. Balance, grace, athleticism are all on display as the dancers twirl, jump, swoop across the dance area. The tribe bonds and children are introduced to their rituals and traditions. The garments are colorful and vibrant, meant to extenuate every movement. If you’ve had a chance to watch a Native American dance ceremony, you aren’t likely to soon forget it. It is well worth the experience to understand the culture and traditions of the Native Americans who have suffered greatly, but are still willing to share their dances with us.