Paul and Chris Calle: American Indian Grass Dance
Paul and Chris Calle
A dance traditionally performed at a powwow, or tribal gathering, is the Grass Dance, so called because of the braids of sweet-smelling grass in the dancer's bustles and of the dancers' tendency to sway back and forth like prairie grass bristling in the breeze. The Grass Dance is also known as the "Hot Dance," because originally a ritual feast was placed in the center of the dancers who then stalked the meal and retrieved hot pieces of meat with their bare hands. The costumes commonly feature fringed V-shaped shirt yokes and fringed shirt and pants seams. Historically, songs and dances were often claimed as property by clans or tribes, allowing only their members the rights to perform them. As in all Native American dances, tradition and ritual reenactment are the context that gives meaning to both the dancers and their audience.
This painting originally appeared on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the 32¢ American Indian Dances Se-tenant Strip of 5 issued June 7, 1996.
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