Sunday, June 10, 2018

Indian Dancers, 1959

You might think that you've seen today's photos before; au contraire, mon frère! As fun as the Indian Dance Circle was (and it certainly made a popular photo subject), all of the photos tend to look more or less the same. 

These would be a lot more interesting if I knew anything about Native American dances. But... I am a dope, so you will just have to use your imagination. The audience sure seems fascinated!

I am willing to bet $1000.00 of GDB reader TokyoMagic's money and speculate that this guy is doing a "hoop dance". Call it a hunch. Notice the mysterious men in white up on the berm - maintenance staff? Animatronics that have gone haywire?

This one is my favorite, because I have deemed it to be "postcard worthy". Plus the eagle costume is very cool. Cultural and sociological changes made the Dance Circle a thing of the past, but it is a classic piece of Frontierland history.


Nanook said...


You're probably-correct about the dance in the second image having something to do with a "hoop"; although that's unlikely its real name. But I have it on good authority the dance featured in the first image is an early version of the Macarena-! You ain't kidding about the postcard-worthiness of that last image. It's a real beauty. (And, BTW - that dance is really called "The Eagle"). Other actual dances performed at the Ceremonial Dance Circle are: The Omaha; The Shield and Spear; The Zuni-Comanche; The Mountain Spirit; and The Friendship Dances.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

The last pic is JUMBO postcard worthy. Thanks, Major.

Nanook, I looked up "hoop dance" and it is the name of a dance performed by Native Americans involving multiple hoops. Now as to whether each individual dance/interpretation has a different name, I don't know.

Here are some references.

Here's a Hoop Dance performance by Nakotah LaRance along with his father Steve LaRance discussing the cultural significance of the "Hoop Dance". The actual performance begins at the 9:35 mark

JC Shannon said...

You know, I remember the Dance Circle and thinking how cool the dancers were in their costumes. I think it's a shame that today it is viewed differently. How many people will ever get to see Native American dances in their lifetime.
My wife agrees, she is Northern Cheyenne. The guys on the berm are obviously "The Men in White". They always show up after no one sees a UFO. Strange. Thanks Major for the terrific photos.

Patrick Devlin said...

Ah, beautiful pics and culture, too. Only at GDB!

Melissa said...

I know I've mentioned it here before, but I'm a total Nakotah LaRance groupie! As JC says, though, it's not that likely I'll ever get to see him perform or compete live.

Melissa said...

I see a bunch of my favorite paper souvenir hats in the audience! That's number one on my shopping list when I step out of the time machine. (I assume the portal will be located somewhere in Tomorrowland.)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, thanks for the names of the various dances; I’ll bet another $1000 of TokyoMagic’s money that the “friendship dances” are when children from the audience were invited in to the dance circle for a grand finale!

K. Martinez, jumbo postcards are my favorites; I have a bunch, but there are many missing from my collection. Years ago I bid on one that went for over $300! Thanks for the links to the articles and the videos.

Jonathan, as far as I know I never saw the Indian dancers - or if I did, I was very young. I honestly don’t think my family ever walked over to the Indian Village! Just one of many things we missed, somehow.

Patrick Devlin, ha ha, and Daveland too! Though he now specializes in only the rarest images, and pix like these don’t fall in to that category.

Melissa, I’ll bet those guys never imagined that they would have groupies, but if there’s one, there must be a bunch!

Melissa II, I wonder how much those paper hats cost back in 1959. Fifty cents? I have one in my collection, but it is in very rough shape.

Melissa said...

If I ever get around to actually making that collection of retro Disney doll clothes I've been nattering on about for years, the paper hat will definitely be a priority.

JC Shannon said...

@Mellissa The paper hats are definately a bold fashion statement. I heard Meghan Markle is going to wear one at the next royal function. @Major, I bet it was more like 10 cents.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ha, ha, Major! Why are you betting with my money? When I go to Vegas (which is like, almost never), I give myself a $20 gambling limit for the entire visit. When that's used up, I'm done!

It's interesting that Disneyland's Indian Village and Dance Circle were removed and exactly 20 years later, Knott's Berry Farm opened their Indian Trails area with it's very own dance circle. And it is still there today (26 years later). I guess there isn't any chance of it being replaced by singing bears.....unless Knott's decides to rebuild Knott's Bear-y Tales and place it there.

Nancy said...

I always enjoy seeing the crowds at the "low-tech" exhibits at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center. It so saddens me that everything is becoming about commercializing some movie anymore.

These views are great, so colorful and exciting. Thanks, Major

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, that is a great idea! I can send you a photo of mine, since it is flattened - it would help you make a pattern.

Jonathan, my interest in the royal family would increase 200% if Meghan Markle wore a paper Disneyland hat!

TokyoMagic!, I’m sure not going to gamble with MY money! Do you think I’m crazy? I’ve only been to Vegas once, and I gave myself a $20 a day limit. It never lasted very long. Gosh, I didn’t even know Knott’s had an Indian dance circle. That’s so cool.

Nancy, I honestly wonder if we’ll EVER see an attraction that isn’t directly linked to a movie. Of course, many of Disneyland’s classic rides were, also, but the fun exceptions were “Pirates” and the Haunted Mansion.

Anonymous said...

I barely remember the Indian Dance Circle, we probably skipped it since it was a cul-de-sac.

I enjoyed watching the dancers at the Pueblo Indian Cultural Center in Albuquerque,

Worth a look-see if you are in the neighborhood. The restaurant there also features Indian specialties, which are quite interesting and tasty.


Melissa said...

I lived near the Onondaga nation as a kid, and I remember going to some cultural center there on a school trip. But it was all talking and storytelling; no music or dancing. The only detail I remember is one speaker saying there was no "m" sound in the Haudenosaunee language, which is how you know they didn't choose the name "Mohawk" for themselves.