When we think of tribal dance, we often think of Native Americans. An image of a chief in a long, feathery hat leading the ceremonious festivities is a common theme in American society. But tribal dance extends far beyond our television screens.
Native Americans have practiced trial dance for hundreds of years. The dances are often seen as sacred, and learning them is a way for modern tribe members to stay connected to their ancestry and roots. Ceremonial dance is the most common, and what most people think of when they consider tribal dance. Performed to mark nearly any special occasion, ceremonial dancing is practiced during special occasions and even for weddings! It’s the most popular form of tribal dance.
The Lakota tribe created another popular form of tribal dance known as fancy dancing. For this type of dancing, you can’t just come as you are; you often need to dress up.
In truth, there are many types tribal dance. And the practice isn’t limited to the Native American culture. Even belly dancing was once considered a tribal dance. Tribal dances can be commonly seen all over the world in areas such as Africa and the Middle East. It is the symbolism found in the dancing that has drawn many cultures to tribal dancing. Some of the dances are difficult to master, while some are relatively simple. Some dancing is even used as a form of competition.
So how can you get in on the action and learn tribal dancing? Dance studios around the nation offer classes. But if you really want learn to tribal dance, there are groups that travel around, demonstrating their dances. You can also go straight to the source. Native Americans are proud of their culture, and you’re likely to find someone who will be willing to show you if you ask.
Joseph Paige © 2006