Queens County Farm to host Autumn Dance Celebration

Photo courtesy of Queens County Farm Museum

Celebrate American Indian culture through music, dance, food, authentic Native-made jewelry and other products at the Queens County Farm Museum’s upcoming Autumn Dance Celebration. 

Queens County Farm is hosting the event with the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers on Saturday, Nov. 7, and Sunday, Nov. 8. 

“Autumn Dance Celebration gives thanks for the harvest this year,” said Jennifer Walden Weprin, executive director of Queens County Farm Museum. “We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers for 42 years. We look forward to celebrating these beautiful traditions again this year.”

Among many Native American tribes, it is a tradition to celebrate and give thanks for each season of the year. In autumn, the bountiful summer harvest is celebrated and thanks is given through song and dance reflecting with reverence and appreciation for the wonderful things we find in nature. 

The special admission program will feature eight Indian Nations represented including: Hopi, Winnebago, Lenape, Choctaw, Mayan, Seneca, Santo Domingo and Chickahominy. 

The program includes more than 20 different dances that will be presented outdoors over two days in front of a socially distanced audience. Crop circles will help mark where the audience can sit and face coverings are required. The audience is encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and picnic blankets since seating will not be provided. 

The program was created to reimagine the farm’s annual Thunderbird American Indian Powwow which was canceled this past July due to COVID-19 business closures. 

Queens Farm will dedicate 3 acres to the performers and the audience and limit capacity as per New York Forward Safety Guidelines.

 A sample of the performances include:

  • Smoke dance (Iroquois): During the winter months the people had to build fires in the longhouse to keep warm. On certain days there wasn’t enough wind that came in the doorways to help keep the fires burning. The people would get together and dance near the fires to create enough wind to stoke the fires, and they called this dance the smoke dance.
  • Grass dance (Sioux): Before a group would move into a new camping area to follow the buffalo herds they would first send out a group of dancers to go to the new camping area. The dancers would dance to crush down the tall grass that grows out on the Great Plains so when the other members of the tribe arrived, they would have a smooth area to erect their teepees. They called this dance the grass dance.
  • Buffalo dance (Hopi): This is a winter dance the people perform to ask the creator to help them have a successful hunt. The movements of the dance copy the movements of the buffalo, looking for water, searching for grass, etc.
  • Hoop dance (Toas): This dance was created to test the skills of the dancers – how well they handle the hoops, how well they keep in time with the music and how many hoops the dancer uses. They may use anywhere from three to 30 hoops!

The dancers will perform in full regalia and each dance will be explained to connect the public to the origins of each dance and these beautiful Native traditions to experience how the original inhabitants of this great land celebrate their legacy.

The Autumn Dance Celebration will also host an outdoor food and craft market featuring Native American vendors. A large selection of authentic Native American art, crafts, jewelry and food will be available for sale. 

Social distancing and face coverings will be required at all vendors and activation points and when social distancing on the farm’s grounds is not possible. Admission tickets are $15 ($10 for ages 4 to 11) for each day for the dance performances. Tickets must be purchased in advance at queensfarm.org

There will be two performance times each day. The first performance is noon to 1:30 p.m. and the repeat performance is scheduled for 2:30 to 4 p.m. to limit daily capacity in the pasture, but dance programming will be unique to each day so that visitors can enjoy the full scope of the dancers’ repertoire. 

Visitors can enjoy the food and craft market from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. General admission to the market and Queens Farm is free. There is free event parking, neighborhood parking and bicycle racks are available on site.