Friday, August 29, 2014

Hoop dancing on the veranda

A little over three weeks ago we were delighted to watch Hopi dancers on the veranda of the Grand Canyon Lodge. The primary dancer is Derrick Suwaima Davis, who has won the hoop dancing world championship seven times. I had the idea this was a sideline of his but a look at the website linked to on his name shows he's very active in the performing arts. We were watching a real professional and professionals in training, his sons.

He asked that no video be taken so all I have are stills.

Here he's getting his sons ready to perform the first dance.

The younger boy is on the left, and watched his brother's moves through every dance.

The singer in the background, Ryon Polequaptewa, doubled as a pretty good stand-up comedian, filling the gaps between performances. He's also a musician and a noted kachina doll carver; you can see some of his work via the link above.

The boys danced by themselves twice, with costume changes between. This dance may have been The Eagle.

Their father joined them for the next one, which might be The Horsetail. Of course we were told about each dance but I never remember.

See the younger boy watching his dad's feet?

HH and I had front-row seats, having turned around the Adirondack chairs that weigh about 100 pounds each, that usually face the canyon. Other people found seats where they could, on the steps on the left that lead to the auditorium or on the wall on the right.

This boy will follow in his father's dance steps.

Then came the dance everyone was waiting for. This hoop dance involved five rings that started on the ground. Accompanied by Ryon's singing and the beat of his drum, and sometimes the boys when they remembered, Derrick (who had earlier joked that people are dismayed to learn of his name, wanting him to have an "Indian name") performed for fifteen minutes or so, incorporating the hoops singly and in multiples, never missing a step. He is a world champion, after all.

It's hard to describe this dance. The hoops were so fluidly used that it was never apparent to me exactly how he got them from one place to another.

Can you do this? Not me. Once, some years ago, I thought a hula hoop would be good for the so-called core muscles, so I got one and used it. Once. It threw out my sacroiliac so badly I never tried again.

I can't imagine the hours of practice that allow him to dance so faultlessly.

How did he get them to interlock? I never saw it.

According to Wikipedia, "the hoops are made to interlock, and in such a way they can be extended from the body of the dancer to form appendages such as wings and tails."

The end of the dance. 

It was an astonishing performance, made all the more so after learning he had driven from Second Mesa to Phoenix to pick up Ryon, and then up to the North Rim that day, a distance of more than 600 miles. Oh, and not to mention that Second Mesa has an elevation of about 5500 feet and the North Rim is 8500. This man wasn't even breathing hard.

Thought of the day: