Indian Games, Dances & Native Songs - online book

Native American Ceremonials, Sports, and Songs with Sheet Music, Lyrics & Commentary

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INDIAN GAMES AND DANCES                  7
Every Indian dance has a meaning. The dance is generally either the acting out of some mythic story or a presentation of a personal experience. Every move­ment of the body, arms, hands, feet and head is always in strict time with the songs that invariably accompany the dance. Indian dances are complex rather than simple. Their "spontaneous activity" is not the result of "a dominating emotion" but of a desire to present dramatically certain mental pictures. This is particu­larly true of dances which form a part of religious cere­monials. As a consequence, none of these dances are improvised. All follow forms that have been handed down through generations and have become more or less conventionalized.
When the dance portrays a personal experience the dancer is allowed a freedom of invention not elsewhere permitted. Even in this case the dancer is obliged to follow certain conventional forms, as in the sign language; otherwise his story would not be understood.
On the eastern continent the peoples from whom we are descended had songs and dances peculiar to their different vocations, so on this western continent the song and dance were the accompaniment of the Native industries.
A study of the Indian dramatic dances shows that by means of them the vocations of men and women were lifted out of drudgery, made types of activity and allied to the forces recognized in the religious beliefs of the people. The dances here given, those relative to the Corn and also the Hede-wache, not only illustrate what has been said above but they reflect back a light upon
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