The 2006 NOAC Individual American Indian Dance Competitions were, in the words of Travis Sheehan, American Indian Activities Conference Vice Chief, "tense...and awesome." 326 individuals competed in five different styles of dance--Fancy Dance, Grass Dance, Straight Dance, Old-Style Dance, and Traditional Dance--and were rated by experienced judges, many of whom have competed at past conferences and were top ten finishers.
The competition is managed by a team of judges, with a head judge designated for each style of dance. The competitions works by splitting the dancers into heats of ten, and eliminating half of each heat, per round. The top ten dancers are honored, and will perform during the American Indian Activities Show on Tuesday night at NOAC. The top three in each category will again be recognized, and a Grand Champion is named for each style.
The judges base their decisions not only on the technical aspects of the dance, but on the poise of the dancers and the appearance of their regalia, which can take many months to design and create. Many of the Arrowmen who are competing came to NOAC for the express purpose of dancing with their brothers at the national conference. The dedication required to study each dance and the long hours that are required to become proficient truly show the respect and admiration that these Arrowmen have for the history and customs of the American Indians.