The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers’ Concert and Pow-Wow: Review By Hannah Singer

(Louis Mofsie – Hopi/Winnebago. Photo by Jonathan Slaff)

It’s a family tradition for us to go to a Pow-Wow at least to one a year. We hadn’t been in over a year, so I jumped at a chance to see these dancers and musicians. This time instead of a traditional outdoor Pow Wow, we were indoors in the  East Village.

The Theater for  the New City has been around for years and has shown a lot of raw, unfiltered and unique material. Recently we saw the Hungarian Puppet Theatre there (see my review on this site).

We chose to go on the rainiest day at the rainiest time of day. We had umbrellas yet had forgotten our rain boots. My daughter had to spend the whole evening with wet feet. Of course, being a tween she didn’t care as much as I did.

We arrived and suddenly heard the banging of drums. We followed the sounds to a dark theatre highlighted by a circle of native musicians and a beautiful quilt hing at the back of the stage.

The theater’s seats were on steps so everyone has a good seat. There was an option to sit next to the stage as well.

One of the players had a huge feathered headdress. This is the Chief, Louis Mofsie (Hopi/Winnebago) He was the MC of the show and Introduced each performance with an explanation and history and who would be performing the dance, story or music.

At one point they even had a guitar join in on the traditional sounds which added a modern touch.

I actually recognized a few of the dancers as well as the host whose voice is so recognizable. If you have been to a Tri-State Pow-Wow or a Long Island one, you know who I am speaking about. He is a senior but with boundless energy. He stood on stage telling stories, sat on the sidelines performing on his hand held drum and he joined in on occasion with movement and dance on stage. He introduced another senior who had just turned 74 also with boundless energy.

I really liked that we had every generation represented in this show, from young to old.

It was a 90 minute show which progressed rapidly between performances.

There was a lovely storyteller Mariana Little Eagle, who told the story of the bear and the ant and how we came to have night and day. She did various animal sounds from the story. She was so animated and the kids and grownups alike loved her. She really is a natural. She could get work on cartoons for her voices and Sesame Street for her storytelling.

There was also a storytelling about a deer and a hunter. The deer (one of the older male dancers with an actual (or was it?) deer head on his head). His movements and dance with the hunter were very much like a deer and very beautiful. It ends tragically with the hunter raising his bow and imaginary arrow and shooting him. He slowly dies very elegantly.

The hoop dance was exciting. One of the young men dances around with a few hula hoops and bends and twists through them.

The fancy dance is always my favorite, and this did not disappoint. Both male and female dancers participate in this, and it is called fancy, as they dress is elaborate and the male dance extravagantly with a lot of energy. The women as well. I am amazed by their energy level.

The dancers always looked like they were having such fun, and I am sure they are happy to share their history and art with us. We are so delighted to have the opportunity to learn and see the beauty of their stories and music and art.

They all came out after the show to speak individually to those who wanted to meet and speak with them.

The show runs through February 2.

Singers and dancers:

Louis Mofsie
Alan Brown
Sandi Capasso
Isabelle Cespedes
Matt C. Cross
Mayo aka Little Eagle
Julian Gabourel
Kitty Gabourel
Dale Legones
Marie Poncé
Carlos Eagle Feather
Michael Taylor
Ciarán Tufford

Flute & Guitar: Rob Mastrianni
Artistic Director: Louis Mofsie

Theatre for the New City
55 Perry Street, NYC





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