September 22, 2001

How the Fancy Shawl Dance Competition is Judged


fancy shawl dancer, american indian danceThis article gives a general overview of how the Ladies Fancy Shawl Dance competition is judged, and things to look for in a good fancy shawl dancer

The fancy shawl dance is a very aerobic, fast paced dance. Thus, this is usually considered a dance for the younger ladies and girls. However, dancers of any age may dance the fancy shawl dance, from babies to elders.

One thing to watch for in a good fancy shawl dancer are the movements of the shawl, which should be extended like the wings of a butterfly, or mimic emergence from the cocoon.

A Fancy Shawl Dancer should appear very light on her feet and keep time to the drum beat with her head. 

An accomplished Fancy Shawl Dancer will use many innovative individual steps and fancy footwork involving multiple spins and turns and a very graceful manner. 

One foot should be hitting the ground with each beat of the drum, unless the dancer is doing a mid-air spin, and then she should land on the drum beat.

As in all the pow wow dance competitions, you are disqualified if you do not stop with the drum beat. If you are in mid-air when the drum stops, you better just stay there!

Seriously, an experienced dancer will know all the pow wow songs and will know when the song is about to reach its conclusion and will be prepared for it.

You are also disqualified if parts of your regalia fall off while you are dancing. 

If a feather is dropped, a special ceremony will be performed by a medicine person who will retrieve the lost feather. Taking pictures during this type of ceremony is strictly prohibited.

If you know you did not stop with the beat, you should be honorable and disqualify yourself, even if a judge did not notice. 

Cherokee Legend of the Butterfly Dance

Crow Explanation of How the Ladies Fancy Shawl Dance Came to Be

Dance Regalia of the Fancy Shawl Dancer

Native American Dances
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