Subject: THE WORLD
OF AMERICAN INDIAN DANCE PREMIERES ON NBC TELEVISION NETWORK SATURDAY,
APRIL 19 AT 3 P.M. (EST)/NOON PT
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 10:08:46 -0500
From: "Jerry Reed"
Phone: 315-829-8370 Fax: 315-829-8386
Mark Emery - Director of Media Relations [email protected]
Jerry Reed - Senior Media Specialist [email protected]
Maggie Begley - Four Directions Entertainment [email protected]
One Hour Documentary Is Produced By Four Directions Entertainment, An
Enterprise Of Oneida Indian Nation
Los Angeles, CA: March 21, 2003 -- The World of American Indian Dance, a
one-hour documentary produced by Four Directions Entertainment, an
enterprise of the Oneida Indian Nation, will premiere on the NBC
Television Network on Saturday, April 19th at 3 P.M. (EST); Noon (PT).
Check local listings for exact time in your area. The first-ever American
Indian-produced documentary to air on a major television network, The
World of American Indian Dance will introduce audiences to the beauty,
athleticism, and competitive spirit of American Indian dance. Actor Peter
Coyote provides a stirring narration.
The Oneida Indian Nation in partnership with Sonny Skyhawk (Lakota) and
Dan Jones (Ponca) formed Four Directions Entertainment, the first film and
television production company ,,100 percent American Indian-owned and
operated, in 2001. According to Ray Halbritter, who as Nation
Representative and CEO of the Oneida Indian Nation gave the green light to
this documentary, "We are grateful to NBC's Bob Wright for the support he
has shown for this project.
This program is a testament to our overall mission of recognizing and
advancing the American Indian community in the field of entertainment."
Executive producer Dan Jones says, "American Indian dance is this
continent's oldest cultural tradition, with many of the country's 560
tribes and nations hosting gatherings commonly called 'powwows,' which are
growing in popularity as both cultural and sporting events. Some powwows
boast attendance of more than 50,000, such as Crow Fair in Montana, where
we shot over 40 hours of dance footage and interviews."
Against this historic and spectacularly beautiful backdrop, the compelling
story of America's first "performance artists" is told through dance.
Throughout its history, dance has fortified and sustained American
Indians. It has also been the prism through which age-old rivalries have
been played out and where such modern conflicts as progress vs. tradition;
spirituality vs. commerce, and independence vs. assimilation continue to
be dramatically expressed.
Traditional dance styles, developed thousands of years ago, distinguish
tribes from one another and hold the key to tribal legacies. Whether
inspired by revered animals, sacred places, or belief systems, American
Indian dances span the gamut of human emotion and expression.
These beautiful, energetic dances require the skill of an Olympic athlete,
as powwow contestants must adhere to rigorous protocols to win
championships. Sports fans can look at these dancers as the direct
descendants of America's 'original home team,' carrying on a competitive
tradition that dates back many centuries.
Also explored in the documentary is the clash of traditional vs. more
modern styles of dancing and the lifestyles that reflect each distinct
approach. As in any culture, young American Indians, to a certain degree,
have abandoned the more traditional dance styles, preferring less
restrictive, more interpretive dances including the Fancy Shawl Dance, the
Jingle Dress Dance and the Men's Fancy Dance. Many tribal elders are wary
over the more flashy and secular aspects of the newer dances. But others
point to the increased attendance and participation of youth as a sign
that the injection of the newer dance forms is re-invigorating the
American Indian dance scene.
Producers were determined to showcase the aesthetic beauty of the dances,
the colorful regalia, and the breathtaking Crow lands to the American
viewing public. For that reason, according to executive producer Sonny
Skyhawk, "Four Directions selected the Panasonic Broadcast's AJ-HDC27
Varicam, variable-frame high-definition camera for primary photography for
the documentary. The uncompressed edit was done on the HDBOXX editing
system from BOXX® Technologies, which supports Panasonic's AJ-HDC27
variable frame rate camera. This format provides an extraordinary
introduction to the beauties of this cultural expression."
The World of American Indian Dance is a Four Directions Entertainment
production. The program is presented by The Oneida Indian Nation. Ray
Halbritter, (Oneida), Dan Jones (Ponca) and Sonny Skyhawk (Lakota) are
executive producers; Jones is producer. Four Directions Entertainment is
committed to creating more opportunities for American Indians in the
entertainment industry and to re-defining, through its productions, the
perception of the "First Americans" on the continent. For more
information about Four Directions Entertainment, visit
The Oneida Indian Nation is a federally recognized Indian nation in
Central New York. It is a member of the Haudenosaunee (hoe-dee-no-so-nee),
known in English as the Six Nations or Iroquois Confederacy. The word
Haudenosaunee means "people of the longhouse."
"A feather is down on the
ground!" The master of ceremonies called the attention of the crowd to
the feather there at the yearly Standing Bear Pow Wow. The presence of it
would not been noticed by anyone but the alert overseer from his position
on the raised stand where he was sitting.
There was a crowd of many.
They came from every part of the country and from every group of people
from German to Irish or Scot. The pause, the silence, the quiet to all at
once come over the dance arena was noticed. They didn't know what it meant
but they knew it had a significance. Again the m.c. spoke, "A feather is
on the ground."
The minutes ticked away as if
they were much longer in time. But, within a short time one of the dancers
approached the stand. Now, the speaker announced a statement. "Our dancer
has identified his feather and disqualifies himself."
Somewhere in our minds the
meaning of it was filed away in our subconscious's. That meditation was
interrupted by someone who asked. "What does it mean?"
Slowly, ever so slowly the
youthful childhood memories of parents working with the children to teach
them the crafts was recalled. There wasn't a way to explain in an instant
what was all involved. The child learning to wrap and tie the feathers in
a regalia in such a sure and strong way so that not even one feather
would fall could not be explained in one or two short sentences.
During these times of cuts for
arts and crafts due to the cost and expense of it was not a time to get
into a discussion of the way a warrior was trained. He first was taught
the discipline of overcoming failure as far as putting together elements
of the sky, earth, wind, rain and all the things important to creation.
They were are tied together methodically and tightly in respect for the
Greatest Craftsman who originally designed the feathers. The task was
done. If it was not successfully done, it was taken apart and the work was
repeated, more than once if necessary until it was correct and secure.
For all those who doubt the
intricate ways of the feather go to science to learn about what goes into
its design. The barbs, the shafts, the hollow stems and on and on.
These teachings of the crafts
were what was the basis of unbeatable warriors such as the Celts. They
turned there attention to survival through these crafts. Clothing,
preparing food, housing. However, if need be they were the champions who
would not be defeated. They came back again and again. In this stamina
also the Native American was schooled. To drop a feather on the ground
even during the heat of the dance was first of all a break into the own
warriors conscience and second of all an opportunity for him to identify
his well know object. In this humility he disqualified himself and honored
his position to his creator in apology for letting even one small part of
the Great Designers object touch the ground. After all, the feather
belongs in the heavens which was a part of Wah Khan Dah's realm.
Although our lives are
separate in so many ways from our ancestors and even those who set
themselves up to teach are deviate in their own lives there still must be
a respect for the old ones ways which was here brought to the attention of
anyone who was present.