Just to the east of Phoenix is Superstition Mountain. At the foot of the mountain is a museum which was hosting ‘Apacheland Days’ this weekend. Top billing was the Yellowbird Apache Dancers. I’ve been involved in scottish country dancing for fifteen years, and more recently, long sword dancing, so I’m always interested in dancing with a long history. I’ve read some articles on Apache Hoop Dancing, and was really hoping to see some while I was down in Arizona.
We arrived early, but it was already busy at the museum. There were lots of cowboys
and finally, we found the Apache Dancers. This dance group is a single family unit, with one of the seven sons, holding the world title for hoop dancing. Two of the younger brothers were demonstrating, and the youngest was only thirteen! Apparently, nine family members are competing in the upcoming World Championships in February.
The hoops that are used in the dance are symbolic of the circle of life and the general philosophy that you gain from life whatever you put in. If you put in negative, you will get back negative. Trust me, these boys will be getting lots of positive in their lives.
I was mesmerized as I watched the agility and speed of these young men. In the picture above, the dancer is skipping with the small hoop. They later pick up hoops with their feet and tie them in different shapes around themselves. The idea is to be faster and more creative than the other dancers. Obviously, this family knows what it’s doing. It was also great to see a family together in such a positive situation. How many teenagers do you know that hang around with their parents on a weekend? The family shared a passion, and they shared it with us; what a privilege.
Not only is the dancing passed down through the generations, but also the ability to create the costumes. Mom proudly explained that the boys make their own costumes and complete all the bead work themselves.