Smoke Dance

Smoke Dance
Smoke Dance

The Sencas, Oneidas, Onondagas, Iroquois, etc have many ceremonial dances in common. One of them happens to be the smoke dance. The smoke dance is one of the more energetic and colourful of the ceremonial dances which I have seen that both men and women participate in. Its energy is displayed in a flurry of colours which I have tried to capture in my own rendition of the “Smoke Dance”.

On visiting the NY State Fair on Saturday, one of the exhibition areas I discovered was the Indian Village. The term Indian may have been the homogeneous term for the people who were present there but really they were representative of different Native American Nations. Some were adorned in their traditional dress while others were in regular clothes.

At the time I visited they were presenting the various ceremonial dances. All were indeed interesting to observe but the one which caught my attention was the smoke dance. Initially, the dance is slow and unassuming. And slowly, as the chanting becomes louder, the footwork becomes more energetic. The dance itself is accentuated by lots of stomping and quick turns which are all performed in a circular pattern. Also, the brightly coloured clothes emphasize the movements by giving them impact.

I tried to capture that flurry of colour and energy in “Smoke Dance” by delaying my shutter speed long enough to capture the movement of the dancers’ feet. Believe me when I say there are lots of technical issues that come into play with that. I had to contend with changing light conditions which can result in overexposed areas; a lack of focus area; and, just simply hand holding the shot was a difficulty in itself.

All technical issues aside however, I believe I captured it in a tasteful manner which displays the essence of the dance and the spirit of the smoke dance. I hope you enjoy this rendition as much as I enjoyed witnessing it first hand.


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