The origins of Round Dance come from the healing dances of the Plains Indians – it retains its spiritual core and inspires joy and happiness – men and women, young and old dance in a spectacular display of kinship and harmony. It has developed into a friendship dance that has long been held as a courting activity. This dance is one of the few Native American dances in which women get to dance with men. Native American traditional dances are usually segregated by gender. It is performed during a portion of a powwow and during many social occasions. The round dance has an infectious upbeat tempo and creates a simple and fun activity. The beat of the drum is different from other dances.
Round dances are performed during the intertribal social portion of a powwow. It is also a popular dance for non-Indians during an intertribal is the Round dance. It is an easy dance to follow as everyone joins hands inside the arbor forming a big circle moving clockwise, or without joining hands they move clockwise stepping to the beat of the drum. If there are many people participating, an other circle is formed inside the first circle that moves in the opposite direction. The Round dance creates a simple and fun activity that brings both cultures together for positive interaction (Braine 1995:32).
In the recent past, this social dance music has gained in popularity among the Native American community and is moving into the mainstream as a popular music style.
Native American dance is centered around the drum, so it makes sense that drums are a crucial part of Round Dance music…the only difference is the size of the drum. Rather than of the deep, thunderous sounds of the larger pedestal drums typically associated with native song, Round Dance music often features the spirited sounds of the much smaller single headed hand drum – whether performed by one singer or a large group of singers, each beats a drum while singing – each song features soaring vocals set to the steady, resonating beat of the drum.
The Round Dance was mainly performed in the winter time. Although these social dances can take place during a powwow, they can also be experienced as a singular event…some of these indoor winter gatherings have been known to last throughout the night, often finishing after sunrise.
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