Round Dance

A new dance to the Iroquois reserves as a result of visiting the distant Seneca-Cayuga Longhouse in NE Oklahoma. It is approximately the same age as the Cold Dance, but was introduced through the Allegany Seneca. There seems to have been little reluctance to adopt new dances or songs which would fit into the Iroquois pattern; many of the dances on these records attest to this acceptance. Round Dance is such an example, the backing-up step having analogies to other Iroquois dances, although the concentric rings of dancers moving in opposite directions is an innovation. The head drummer and assistants with horn rattles sit on their central benches and sing each song twice. A circle forms around the singers as the first songs begin. There is no sexual segregation yet (the dance is too new to have become fixed in the Iroquois mode) and groups of young men and women mix at random. Dancers perform facing inwards and dance in one direction until signaled by a change in the song to reverse direction. Reversing neatly, without loosing the beat, is a test of a good dancer, and a few as yet meet the new challenge. (this was written in 1969, as of 1978 things have improved!) Soon the circle is crowded and a second forms behind it and moving in an opposite direction. Children tend to form their own circle inside close to the singers. They move in the same direction as the third circle. The effect upon an audience looking at these three rows of feet moving in two directions is somewhat dizzying! The dance is a four-step, accented on the first step. If the line moves to the right the step is: Right forward about 12 inches and off to the right the same distance; Left moved to the right; Right brought back in line with Left and off to the right; Left moved to the side of Right; Repeat. There is tendency among the young men to over-reach the first forward step and also to slam the foot hard on the floor as they dip their bodies so that it produces a considerable beat accenting the drum.

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

Women sometimes join in the singing using the higher pitch

Dance is in a sideways motion with the lead foot stepping forward and to the side, then the other foot “catching up” to the other foot

At the change in beat, the dancers go in the other direction

Does not matter who takes the lead, but generally, it is the women who will get up and dance first

Can form more than one line and dance in opposite directions if desired