1996 32¢ Fancy Dance
American Indian Dances
Issue Date: June 7, 1996
City: Oklahoma City, OK
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
The Fancy Dance follows the Traditional Dance and is an adaptation of two western Oklahoma dances. The Grass Dance celebrated victory in war while the Ghost Dance, created after conquest by the Europeans, conjured up spirits and led to trances, enabling dancers to relive the good life of the past. The United States government prohibited both dances.
Combining and camouflaging the two dances, the Indians created a new dance that was quickly adopted by other tribes. Costumes became more and more elaborate as the many tribal contributions were incorporated. In time, the dance came to be called the Fancy Dance.
Today, Fancy Dancers wear face paint and garments laden with metallic beads, sequins, and ribbons, over which are worn elaborate feather bustles on the back, shoulder, and arms. Care is taken to elongate and color-coordinate the feathers that become an explosion of color and motion when dancers spin, twist, and leap.
Outfitted just as elaborately, the women celebrate their own Fancy Dance. As they jump and whirl to the fast beat of the drums, their long-fringed shawls come to life and look like exotic birds in flight.
Though modern, the Fancy Dance connects Native Americans with their rich and ancient culture.