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Indigenous Dance of the Americas

A full week of activities at Jacob’s Pillow in 2019 was designated as The Land On Which We Dance, in honor of the Indigenous peoples of the Mohican, Nipmuc, Pocumtuc, and Agawam tribes who originally inhabited this area. As part of the contemporary celebration, we looked back upon decades of Indigenous presentations on all three Pillow stages, with a few featured here.

8 performances

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Indigenous Dance of the Americas

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Red Sky Performance

Trace, 2019

As the centerpiece of The Land On Which We Dance, Red Sky Performance packed the Doris Duke Theatre and energized its capacity audiences. Each performance began with a historic film of Tom Two Arrows at the Pillow in 1949, with the Red Sky musicians offering live accompaniment.

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Playing 1 of 8

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Thunderbird American Indian Dancers

Ya-oh-way, 2017

Recipient of a 2019 New York Dance and Performance Award (familiarly known as a Bessie) for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance, Louis Mofsie has been a major force behind the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers since its founding in 1963.

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Playing 2 of 8

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American Indian Dance Theater

Kotuwokan, 1998

The full-evening work entitled Kotuwokan is represented here by two traditional dance excerpts, but a notable aspect of this production was a section entitled “New Dance” that was created by modern dance choreographer Laura Dean.

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Playing 3 of 8

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Halau Hula O Hoakalei

Aia Moloka'i Ku'u Iwa, 1990

This company performed in two consecutive Pillow seasons—first in the Ted Shawn Theatre and then in the Duke—and both times on a program shared with an all-male hula troupe. The group’s founder is featured in this one-of-a-kind footage.

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Playing 4 of 8

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Tom Two Arrows

Iroquois Indian Dance, 1949

This is the rare “time capsule” that opened each performance by Red Sky in 2019, a 70-year-old silent film of Tom Two Arrows at Jacob’s Pillow, accompanied live by the musicians of Red Sky.

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Playing 5 of 8

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Pua Ali'i 'Ilima

Hula 'Auana, 2012

This Honolulu-based company has performed all over the world, seen here using the traditional bamboo sticks known as pu’ili.

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Playing 6 of 8

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Hālau I Ka Wēkiu

E Pele, E Pele, 2008

Although this all-male dance indicates otherwise, this O’ahu-based company includes both men and women. The group celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2008 by embarking on an East Coast tour which included a stop at Jacob’s Pillow.

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Playing 7 of 8

American Indian Dance Theater

Hoop Dance, 1995

The traditional role of the Hoop Dance is to teach and convey stories about how all natural things are connected, yet they grow and change.

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Playing 8 of 8

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