Smoke Dance Midnight Special at Gathering of Nations

Sponsored by Tammy Beauvais Designs, Tribal Spirit Music and SAY Magazine, the Smoke Dance Midnight Special was fantastic!

Huge nye:wen t. Congratulations to the winners, both from Kahnawake, Emily Regis and Teka Littlebear! And to all the participants who came from far away to spotlight Smoke Dance to the world.

Thanks to Sheldon Sundown for doing a wicked job drumming and singing.

The drum is the center of the performance, providing the heartbeat that puts participants in the spirit. Without the drum and singers there would be no dancing.

Romaine Mitchel shared some history of the Smoke Dance, a traditional Haudenosaunee dance. This dance, which evolved from a war dance, was originally performed only by men. It is called the ‘fastest dance on two feet’. Today, women also compete with their own fast version of the dance.

Several stories also have evolved around the naming of the smoke dance. In one story, the dancers’ fast spinning in small circles is believed to emulate the curling of smoke. Another version says that the dance got the name back when the people would dance around the fire pit causing air to circulate, and thus help the fire embers ignite.

Today, Smoke Dance is strictly for show; it’s a competitive dance, or a special dance, not something that is generally treated with the ceremony it may once have garnered. And as a show dance, it’s splendid – just ask those who attended the 2014 Gathering of Nations Midnight Special!