Program 102: Tribal Rhythms

Nico Wind

Nico Wind

The Round Dance

with Nico Wind

Arlie Neskahi:
The circle of creation is reflected in our culture – our beliefs, our stories, and of course, our music. The round dances, as they are sometimes known, relate directly to this view of the world and the Spirit. Out music director, Nico Wind, has spent some time listening to and learning about round dances.Music:
William Horncloud
Round Dance Song
Album: Tradidtional Lakota Songs
Traditional
Canyon Records

Nico Wind:
Black Elk said that everything the power of the world does is done in a circle. The round dance relates directly to this view of the world and the spirit. Some form of the round dance, also sometimes called the friendship dance, the peace dance, the mother earth dance, or the circle dance, is universal among todays Native American tribes.

Music:
Mary Ann Anquoe
War Mothers’ Song
Heartbeat, Vol. 2: More Voices of 1st Nations Women
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Because the circle is connected to the earth and the female spirit, the round dance form is also used for the woman’s dance honoring older women. Southern tribes have war mother songs, performed in a heartbeat rhythm, that invite only mothers who have lost sons in combat into the dance circle.

The Taos tribe is known for cherishing their round dance singing: every year they journey to their blue lake, high in the mountains where, in the evening, they perform round dances. There the people sing the joyous songs of renewal.

Music:
Ernesto f. Martinez; Juan O. Lujan; Ruben Romero
Taos Pueblo Round Dance Song
Native American Traditions
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Each tribe performs the round dance in its own style. New songs are created based on traditional models or forms for round dance tunes. The round dance form typically begins with the lead singer starting the song, usually in melodic syllables known as vocables..

Music:
Goodhouse Family, Joseph Fire Crow
Round Dance Song
Tribal Voices: Music From Native Americans
Traditional
Rhino Records

The main body of the song (the chorus) is sung through and repeated by the entire group until a special drum cue that comes just before the final chorus indicating the ending of the song.

Drumming in the round dance resembles the heartbeat. At most intertribal powwows, there are two styles of Native American music known as southern style and northern style. The southern style of drumming has a smooth, even rhythm.

Music:
Youngbird
Round 5
Change of Life
Canyon Records

The northern style of drumming tends to be faster, and you can hear a lag between the beats.

Music:
Randy Wood
Eagle Woman
Round Dance The Night Away
Canyon Records

The Canadian round dance, a very popular event that has recently been adopted here in the states, is separate from a traditional powwow because only round dances are performed throughout the entire gathering.

Music:
Black Lodge Singers
Round Dance
Enter the Circle
Canyon Records

Singing groups are invited to come to this round dance. Each group is expected to sing four songs consisting of both Native American languages and English.

Round dances are social dances at a powwow, and everyone there is invited to participate, whether in traditional powwow dance dress or not. Lady’s choice at a traditional powwow is a common occurrence. If asked, a man is obligated to dance, or he must pay a fine.

Dancers move in a sun-wise direction in a circle, around the drum. In a basic step moving sideways, dancers tap the ball of one foot on one beat and place it down flatly with the next, repeating the action on the opposite foot without missing a beat.

Everyone dances. In a gesture of friendship and unity, the end of the round dance circle will turn back in, and the people can shake hands and greet everyone who is dancing, reaffirming the circle of life.

Neskahi:
Tribal rhythms is produced by our music director, Nico Wind and writer Anne Morin.