NEW YORK - Dancing from five Native cultural groups will once again come to the heart of lower Manhattan over the weekend of Feb. 20, as the Thunderbird American Indian dancers present their 41st annual Dance Concert and pow wow at the Theater for the New City at 115 First Avenue.
The event will feature 25 to 30 dancers performing social dances ranging from Inuit to Iroquois tradition. The Caribou Dance from Alaska will be back after its addition to the program last year. The lively steps of the Haudenosaunee, a crowd pleaser but rarely seen outside of the northeast, will also appear. A special highlight this year presents three performers of the Hoop Dance, Raymond Two Feathers, Cherokee; "Dancing Wolf" Michael Taylor, Choctaw, and "Deer Woman" Kwan Bennett, Cherokee. After this unique trio performance, the three will compete in a Hoop Dance competition in Phoenix.
The program will also include a Butterfly Dance, a Hopi custom that gives thanks for the beauty of nature, a Grass Dance and Jingle Dress Dance from the Northern Plains people, a Fancy Dance and a Shawl Dance from the Oklahoma tribes. Also on hand will be Taino storytellers, the Heyna Second Son Singers, from various tribes and Mitoka Eagle, Santo Domingo/Pueblo.
The Thunderbird troupe, a mainstay of the Native scene in the Big Apple, originated in 1963 with teenagers who attended the historic Cuyler Church in Brooklyn, which served an Indian neighborhood and preached services in the Mohawk language. Originally called the Little Eagles and trained by a Lakota dancer from Pine Ridge, it evolved into the dance company, which also hosts an annual summer pow wow and holds 10-week classes in traditional crafts.
Following its practice, the troupe will donate the entire box office to its college scholarship fund, which over the years has helped more than 500 Indian students.
Performances will start at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission to the two-hour evening show will be $10. On Sundays, children under 12 accompanied by a ticket-bearing adult are admitted for $1. Box office and audience information is available at (212) 254-1109.