Dancing the Southwest

In the shadow of the old courthouse, the costumes stun the spectators with their lavish color. Ancient chants and songs, heard in the high Arizona desert for generations, drift from the loudspeakers.  Some of the dancers are adorable children in home-made finery, just learning their traditions. Some are adult professionals who compete at dances and pow-wows across the US. Tourists from Boise or Philadelpia or Minneapolis sit in the bleachers, content at having finally found a slice of the Old West that doesn’t cost money, that is real, that represents something meaningful. Every weeknight in Holbrook, on the grounds of the historic courthouse, Native American dancers share their talents with anyone who wants to stop and see them. It’s a wonderful part of life in this small Western town.

I didn’t ever envision that living here would hold such amazing richness of culture. Some nights, the local Mexican Folklorico dancers come and share the time with the fancy dancers, hoop dancers, jingle dancers, grass dancers, and other Native American practitioners. Sometimes there are social dances, where the audience is encouraged to try their hand..okay, to try their feet…at the unique steps. I haven’t actually done that–I have to live in this town, after all. I love being able to go, though, and sit in the lovely mild evening air to watch a style of performance that is at once very accessible and very other. Wish you were here!

Here are some of the other performers who held still long enough to have their pictures taken.

 

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