Red Crooked Sky
The Red Crooked Sky dance troupe is a collaborative mix of American Indians, each dedicated to educating and promoting positive cultural awareness through traditional and contemporary dance. The troupe is based in southeastern Virginia and represents an array of tribes – Cherokee, Sioux, Meherrin, Osage, Pamunkey, Seneca, Monacan and others.
(sound of drums)
- So I really didn't start dancing until I was in my 20's.
I started dancing, and after I had married my husband.
And we started dancing together.
Dancing it's a passion.
It's my heart.
And when I dance it's a reflection of my prayers.
When I dance sometimes I'm praying in Rasidian
sometimes I'm doing warfare.
Dancing for me is a stress reliever.
I dance in my kitchen, I will dance washing my car.
It just depends, and it makes me feel happy.
It just really invigorates me
and it takes bad feelings away.
- I dance because I love it, and to dance my prayers
for my people and my family.
And it makes me happy and brings me peace
and it helps me calm down.
(drums playing and chanting)
- It's a more contemporary dance in among the women.
It's also one of the faster paced dances that we have.
It's actually the fastest dance
that we have in women's categories.
It's known as the butterfly dance.
And it incorporates kicking,
spins, fast moves, fancy footwork.
So it actually mimics a butterfly coming out of the cacoon
and then fluttering from flower to flower.
Our shawls are like our wings.
(drums and chanting)
- It is the original form of dance.
It's a warrior's dance.
And all dances originated from that.
Initially only men were allowed to dance.
And again it gave homage to the warriors
who were protective of the tribe.
There's Nashemond people is a warrior people.
(drums and chanting)
- The reason I enjoy dancing is because
it allows me to freely express how I feel
and to teach others young and old
the traditions and customs of Native Americans.
Throughout my regalia,
you can see the cardinals and the roses.
The cardinals symbolizing, one the state bird
of Virginia, and their symbolizing
of friendship, peace, love.
And the rose symbolizing love and the slogan of Virginia
is love, so just those symbols.
The bells they are traditionally worn by men.
Just a part of regalia to help keep stay on beat.
- I started dancing when I was three years old.
And I danced to all of my ancestors.
The ones who come before me.
I decided after college that I wanted to immerse myself
into my culture, and to actively participate
and be a positive role model in the community.
There's a huge level of gratitude,
and there's a privilege and an honor to do what I do.
I don't take it lightly
All of the colors are symbolic.
The floor designs are indicative of our Algonquin people.
There are pieces that I have
from west coast and the east coast.
I wear each piece with honor.
- I just started dancing this year.
So I started in March, and I spent the past year
learning the dance, the history of the dance,
and how to build regalia.
So I spent several years studying the history
of our tribe, but it can be somewhat solitary.
So I decided to start dancing as a way
to build relationships with the women in our community,
and to just learn another layer of our culture.
The jingle dance comes from the Great Lakes region,
and it actually came through a dream of a medicine man.
And he was struggling with a daughter who was sick.
And his dream gave him a vision of how he could heal her.
What you see on me is a contemporary jingle dress.
And this style is popular throughout the country.
The most beautiful thing to experience
is to see an arena full of women wearing the jingle dress,
and actually the cones are designed to sound like rain.
It's a common tradition to put
365 jingles on a women's dress.
It's a symbol to stay grounded throughout the year.
I have on a headband, and I have plumes.
Wearing feathers, any feathers in Native American regalia
are considered an honor to wear them,
and you should take great care of them.
They're generally a gift from someone special.
I made all of my bead work.
And I made my vest, leggings, and moccasins.
When I started dancing I didn't even know how to sew.
I worked with women who knew the history of the dress
and knew how to make jingle dresses,
and since that time I've made two of my own jingle dresses.
I also brought with me an example of an
Eastern Woodland Algonquin one shouldered dress.
The older style is representative of what our ancestors
wore in this region.
And you can see pearls and copper.
This is another piece that I wear with the one shoulder.
It has copper fish, because the word Nansemond
means fishing point.
Nansemond had a seven mile long oyster ridge,
and so the pearls are a tribute to that
and the fish are a tribute to the name of our tribe.
I dance as a form of expression,
as a form of fellowship, and a form of prayer.
There are so many different layers to dancing
that from the outside someone may see
the beautiful colors, the beautiful artwork,
but from the inside there are so many things
that you gain through dancing.
You line up for grand entry and you spend time
talking to people in your tribe and other tribes,
and you go out into the dance arena,
you see the faces of your community,
you feel your feet on the ground,
you see the sky above you.
So it's really just a way to ground yourself
and to live in your culture.
You can come out as you are, whether you have
the most humble regalia or if you have
a fully beaded outfit, everyone embraces you.
And you're there to celebrate who you are
and where you are in your life.
And that was something that I was missing
just by doing research and reading history all the time.
I really wanted to bring my culture to life
and to build stronger relationships with people.