But the movie, the Broadway musical based on it and their accompanying soundtracks were hardly the first to showcase the concept of the unending circle of life. Native Americans have long used the hoop dance as an illustration of the same concept. And Traverse City will have the opportunity to see a live illustration of it when Brian Hammill and his group, the Native Spirit Dancers, perform at Dennos Museums Milliken Auditorium onTuesday, November 18. The hoops symbolize a sacred part of the Native American life, representing the circle of life with no beginning and no end.. The dancer begins with one hoop and keeps adding and weaving the hoops into formations that represent the journey through life, each additional hoop exemplifying another thread in the web of life.
ONE OF MANY
Though it has become the most requested dance the group performs, the hoop dance is just one of the dances the group will perform at the 7 p.m. show. Hammill and his troupe have an extensive repertoire of dances, including the Eagle Dance, Northern and Southern Traditional Dances, Grass Dance, Fancy Dance, Jingle Dress Dance and Fancy Shawl.
Throughout their history, the indigenous peoples of the Americas have used dance as a means of illuminating and communicating their culture and values, telling stories through the costumes, movements and music. Dances were used for many purposes, such as ceremonial, story telling and entertainment.
The dances represent many things. For example, the Fancy Shawls nickname is the butterfly dance, and the performer whirls about the stage, giving the illusion of never touching the ground, epitomizing the grace and beauty of the butterfly.
The Grass Dance gets its name from the motion of the ribbons and yarn of the dancers costume, which brings to mind the movement of the long prairie grasses. It originates from the Omaha Nation of the Northern Plains.
Since founding the Native Spirit Dancers in 1997, Hammill has sought to incorporate dances and styles from various Native American nations from across the United States and Canada. A member of Ho-chunk nation from southern Wisconsin, Hammill is a veteran of the United States Army and currently the number two-ranked hoop dancer in the world. He is also a recording artist, with four recordings currently available.
The event is free to the public. For more information, call the Office of Student Life at NMC at 995-1043.