Rabbit Dance

Another new dance from Oklahoma inspired by their popular Rabbit Dance. A few years ago Herb Dowdy from the Allegany Seneca witnessed this dance while on a visit to Okla. Seneca-Cayuga. He was interested in the dance and felt he could make his own songs for it. The result was this set composed with the help of Avery Jimerson and another friend. Their songs are great favorites with singers and auditor alike. Especially in New Your State the dancing women will join the singing and the beauty of their higher pitched voices gives an unforgettable quality to these songs. A second set has since been composed but has not the popularity of those recorded here. It might be noted that some years ago the Rabbit Dance had been introduced at Ohswekan with songs learned in Oklahoma by the great traveler, the late Chauncey Isaacs. Songs were also brought back by Percy Smoke and other members of the Fred Williams (Red Cloud) dance troupe who danced it with a high forward step and no backwards motion. This troupe had included a Winnebago, Big Blow Snake and it was from him that they had learned it. The dance was done very occasionally, but never really accepted until Dowdy’s set appeared. The usual pattern of drum and rattles in the center of the Longhouse is cross-over pattern so that his left and right hands grip her left and right hands. They face forwards and dance two step forward and one back, good dancers elaborating will add a rocking swing of their gripped hands and a slight dip of the body. Fishing Dance and Rabbit Dance are the only dances in which the male can choose a female partner, and in this instance cause giggling and general mirth as he makes a selection. Halfway through each song the change of temp indicates a circling motion from the dancers. In Canada the dancers retain their grip and while still dancing forward also turn one revolution to the left, their hands being at the axis of the turn. In NY State one often sees the dancers release hold and independently turn in opposite directions with a very small perimeter and on completing the turn rejoining hands and continue forward. This is another dance in which each song is given twice during a social.

2 or more singers, usually about 6-10, in the middle, water drum and horn rattles

Occasionally the women on the outside of the dancers (those sitting on the sides) will join the men in singing at a high pitch

The women go and ask a man to dance

The woman is on the outside, the man on the inside of the circle

They hold hands with arms crossed (left hand holds left hand, right hand holds right hand)

Each takes two steps forward and one step backwards in unison

At the change in beat of the song, the dancers turn in a circle, keeping beat and the dance step in place