1996 32¢ Hoop Dance
American Indian Dances
Issue Date: June 7, 1996
City: Oklahoma City, OK
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Traditionally, North American Indians have expressed their joy, anguish, and thankfulness in dance. Dancing is an integral part of tribal life because it embodies and is their principal form of religious expression. Because Native Americans believe man should live in harmony with nature, their dances use a simple, earth-bound, toe-heel step.
In the past, some dances were just for men; others were for all members of the tribe. Dances were simple for easy learning and intergenerational participation. While a few southern tribes danced in unison, underscoring their belief that the needs of the individual were secondary to the needs of the community, most tribes allowed a measure of individuality. Solo dances, however, were generally unheard of.
A 20th-century dance designed strictly for entertaining non-Indian audiences, the Hoop Dance is a showy, crowd-pleasing spectacular. Performed solo or in pairs, the dancer manipulates a dozen or more whirling hoops over and around his torso, legs, and arms, creating designs that represent elements of nature such as birds, turtles, and the earth. The Hoop Dance, performed to the beat of the drum but no song, requires acrobatic skill, quick footwork, and years of practice.