Gillian Medicine Cloud and her Fancy Shawl Regalia!
What a fantastic session this was!
Gillian was the winner of our Senior Stampede giveaway last month. While the giveaway was met with resounding success far above what we had even hoped for, we had relatively few seniors reach out for a session.
When Gillian got out of the vehicle in her Fancy Shawl Regalia, we were thrilled! She is a beautiful girl inside and out, and we laughed all evening long as we made her spin and dance for her photo’s. Not your average senior session!
Here is a little history about Fancy Shawl Dancing. This is from a source I found online and tried to verify, but if there are any family and friends of Gillian reading this and you want to correct anything, please leave me a comment and I will update it! I thought this was fascinating, however. (Following content credited to Indian country media network. com)
Fancy Shawl dancers are often said to resemble butterflies.
Given its legacy of color, vivacity and even rebellion, the name of the dance is ironically plain: fancy shawl. Women’s fancy shawl—often mistakenly thought to be a dance that traces back far in history but is actually a fairly recent innovation. In this unique performance, young women from many nations skim, twirl and hop across the arena with a gait that manages to be staccato, lithe and fluid all at once.
For generations, women’s dances tended to be restrained, regal and sedate. But when men in the 1920s created what we now know as men’s fancy dance in order to skirt bans on tribal dances (and simultaneously create a spectacle for tourists willing to pay for the pleasure of viewing these performances), women wanted in on the action. In fact, the regalia of the first female fancy dancers were similar to men’s regalia, such as wearing bustles.
This early form of the dance didn’t take off until the 1950s, when women in northern tribes incorporated traditionally feminine aspects.
The shawl that gives the dance its name—a fringed, colorful, often beaded or appliquéd adaptation of the traditional women’s blanket—extends over the length of the dancer’s “wingspan.” Being light on one’s feet is a must, so the simile applies. Footwork tends to be decided by the individual; there is no particular set of steps to which dancers must adhere, and balance and symmetry are more esteemed than fancy moves.
The fancy shawl dance was called the “graceful shawl dance” when it emerged in the 1950s.
The intersection of joy and restraint, discipline and energy is also seen in the regalia. The fringed shawl, moccasins and leggings are found on virtually every dancer, along with a flared skirt that might be attached to a top, and a beaded overlay, usually a vest or yoke. Practical considerations apply—the strenuous dance makes adequate ventilation essential. (Wearing buckskin is allowed in women’s fancy shawl competitions, but its weight and lack of breathability means that it is used strictly as an accent.) The color scheme may borrow from butterflies (pinks, oranges, and blues are popular) though anything from blacks to neons may be worn. Of utmost importance is modesty: Dancers are encouraged to consider how much leg might be revealed once the regalia is in its full range of motion, particularly during spins. Accessories can include beaded earrings, hair ties, chokers with a neck-drop, and headbands.
So there you have it! And here you have the pictures…
Our site is currently under construction.
Photos will be added soon.
Please check back later.
Thanks for visiting!