Monday, September 14, 2009
Native American Hoop Dance is a form of storytelling dance incorporating anywhere from 1 to 30 hoops as props, which are used to create both static and dynamic shapes, or formations, representing various animals and storytelling elements. It is generally performed by a solo dancer with many hoops.
During the dance, shapes are formed in storytelling ritual such as the butterfly, the eagle, the snake, and the coyote, with the hoop symbolizing the never-ending circle of life. Native American Hoop dance focuses on very rapid moves, and the construction of hoop formations around and about the body. The hoops used are typically of very small diameter (1-2.5 feet). In elaborate sequences of moves, the hoops are made to interlock, and in such a way they can be extended from the body of the dancer to form appendages such as wings and tails. The hoops are often handmade by the dancers out of simple plastic piping (though some are made of wood) and wrapped in colorful tapes, similar to the construction techniques used by modern hoopdancers.
Native American Hoop Dance has been formally recognized as a cultural heritage, embodied in both documentary films and as a living tradition in formal competition. The most popular competition occurs annually at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. Up to 80 dancers have participated on any given year, and the competitions have drawn as many as 10,000 spectators.