Ruben Little Head Sr., master of ceremonies for the Native Fancy Dance
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — A Native Fancy Dance Showcase is being featured during the PBR Global Cup USA Fan Zone February 8 to 10 in Arlington, Texas.
Ruben Little Head Sr. is the master of ceremonies for the event that includes $24,000 in total prize money. It features both men’s and women’s fancy contests with payout of first through tenth place that the PBR is sponsoring. The top four in each division will be showcased during the Sunday PBR performance inside AT&T Stadium. A total of 15 men and 14 women are competing, “The best of the best.”
Little Head said the idea came from Indian National Finals Rodeo Board of Director President Bo Vocu who believed it would be good to incorporate Native culture at the event because of Team Wolves – the Native bull riders competing in the PBR Global Cup. Initially there was talk of having a powwow then it was narrowed down to fancy dancing.
Vocu said the PBR wanted to add a “Native flair” to the fan zone. In discussions with Sean Gleason, PBR CEO, they kicked around the idea of a powwow but that’s a huge production and the PBR has time constraints. “The biggest attraction is fancy dancers – the bull riders of the powwow,” he said.
“Originally it was men’s fancy,” similar to bull riding that’s a main attraction, Ruben said because when it comes to big specials they’re electric and have energy. But then they thought why not have women as well because they’re just as fast and exciting so they drafted a budget that was doable.
Then the drums were decided. Initially he picked one drum Southern Style but then thought there would be a lot of singing so why not have a northern drum so he picked Wild Rose out of Washington. Little Head said Southern Style travels together as a big family, “they come and bring the noise and the same with Wild Rose – they travel deep.”
The Showcase is a straight competition, there’s no grand entry or inter tribals, however there may be a “little warm up song.” Ruben said each dancer would draw for a position that determines what pool he or she is dancing in. He would like to see them dance to a change of songs.
The competition starts on Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and again on Saturday during the same time.
Three judges were picked and they include Pancho Brady, Mandan Hidatsa, Newtown, N.D., Joe Bointy, Kiowa, Lawrence, Kansas and Lisa Meeches, Ojibwe, Winnipeg, Manitoba – all are respected judges based on their experience. Dancers will be judged on originality, creativity, rhythm, whether on beat, flair and difficulty of move. The judges may also have other criteria.
“We’re going to light up the stage – we have some awesome champions and wicked dancers coming down,” Ruben continued. He’s appreciative of Vocu and Casey Duggan of the PBR who are instrumental in organizing it. Vocu is the event arena director.
Little Head said he’s returning to Fort Hall in August to be a Shoshone-Bannock Festival emcee and he’s looking forward to it.