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The Native American Fancy Dance

Originally invented by Gus McDonald, a Ponca man from Oklahoma, the Fancy Dance has grown to become one of the most popular forms of Native American dance today. Performed by various Native American tribes at Pow Wow’s and dance competitions, the Fancy Dance has evolved from its roots in history to the flashy display it is today. As a dancer enters the arena every step, every turn, every movement is timed perfectly to the beat of a single drum.

Adorned in brightly colored feathers and intricate bead work, the regalia each dancer wears, is as elaborate as it is beautiful. The outfits and designs on them usually have both tribal and personal significance to the individual dancer.

Michael Roberts, a veteran Native American Fancy Dancer, gives first hand insight into what it’s like to enter the arena and perform the dance.

For more information on the Native American culture, visit the Dickinson Research Center.

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