Watch the full dance performances and analyze them in light of what Lazore says in this segment.
Have students research the Iroquois League of Six Nations. In addition to the Mohawk, what other nations belonged to this league? Why was the league formed, what did it do, and what is its legacy and status today?
Have students research the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, where this dance troupe is based. What is its history and what is life there like today?
The Oknegakdagye Dancers are an Iroquoian dance troupe based out of the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory located along the St. Lawrence River in northern New York. The group consists of dancers who are members of one of the Iroquois League of Six Nations.
Curtis Lazone, a member of the troupe, describes the dance tradition of the Mohawk as a form of service, offering an opportunity for everyone—community members and outsiders alike—to share in the nation’s rich culture. Audience members are often invited to sing and dance and participate in the performances, and the dancers’ spontaneous energy adapts to each new development in this group dynamic.
During the dancing, changes in tempo signal the dancers to change position, direction, or gesture, and the singers provide these cues based on their observances of the full dance circle. And though the music and rhythms are repetitious, the movements that adjust to these slight changes bring to life a complex array of symbols, characters, and stories.