Oneida Nation dancers Mark Denning and his daughter, Isabel, will demonstrate early and modern powwow dances and discuss Native American life in an all-ages presentation at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian's 3009 Central Street building, next door to the Evanston museum.
Both of the Dennings, who live in Wisconsin, are contest dancers on the powwow circuit. Mark Denning has been leader and head dancer of the Oneida Dancers group. Both will perform in regalia, the highly personalized outfits of clothing and accessories worn by powwow dancers.
Mark Denning will demonstrate the men's traditional dance, an ancient form of Native dance; the men's grass dance, with steps imitating the flattening of tall grasses; and the athletically strenuous men's fancy dance, one of the more modern powwow dances.
Isabel Denning, 17, has been dancing since early childhood and specializes in the jingle dress dance. A jingle dress is adorned with hundreds of shiny "jingles" fashioned from metal can lids.
Mark Denning says visitors will have the opportunity to learn simple dance steps suitable for powwow newcomers. "Powwows aren't just for Native people," he says. "Everyone is welcome."
With summer and fall powwow season approaching, the Mitchell Museum says it's an opportune time to learn about the various dances. Chicago-area powwows include the American Indian Center of Chicago's 59th Annual Powwow September 15-16 in Elk Grove Village and the Midwest SOARRING Foundation's 18th Annual Harvest Powwow September 22-23 in Naperville.
As part of his presentation, Denning welcomes questions about contemporary American Indian culture and feels no question is silly. Among questions Denning has fielded from audience members is, How long have you been an Indian?
"There is a fog through which American society perceives Native Americans," he says. "I want to help lift this fog."
Admission to the special event is $12 for the general public and $10 for Mitchell Museum members. Fees do not include general admission to the museum itself, located one door east at 3001 Central St. Museum admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children (ages 1- 17), students (with ID), teachers (with ID), and seniors (age 65+). Admission is free for Mitchell Museum members and tribal members.
For information, phone (847) 475-1030 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.mitchellmuseum.org.