Monday, September 13, 2010

Dances with Shawls

Watching The Business of Fancydancing was sort of an antidote to thinking about Dances with Wolves.
Sherman Alexie, who wrote Smoke Signals, made the movie, based on a book of his poems.

It's about three men who grew up together on the Spokane reservation and how their friendships change when one of them leaves and gains some fame in the white world. (Just like Alexie did.)

It's complex and funny and requires a little care. I got more out of the commentary and "Making Of" features than I usually do.

For instance, the main character, Seymour (Evan Adams, "Thomas" in Smoke Signals), is a gay Native American poet. We see shots of him dancing, swooping (like an eagle, we might think, if we're in Indians-are-one-with-the-Earth mode) with cloth spread across his shoulders and arms.

Alexie explains in the "Making Of" that this is an in-joke: Seymour is dancing the shawl dance, intended for women only.
(The dance in the preview below is not a shawl dance, obviously.)

There are no wolves in this movie.
There is a gay chicken.

The voice-over is from this poem: "How to Write the Great American Indian Novel" by Sherman Alexie, from The Summer of Black Widows.

Read the poem
"The Business of Fancydancing" to get the title.

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