First Nations Welcome
In full regalia and with soothing voice, Derrick Suwaima Davis welcomes the curious visitors to Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa to the Living Traditions Dance Troupe performance that spills from the hotel’s open lobby to the grounds beyond.
A Native Arizonan, from the Hopi and Choctaw Nations, Suwaima is accompanied by Navajo Yolanda Tsosie, a striking regal beauty whom we later learn is an award-winning champion of womens’ fancy shawl dancing. Drummer Toby Jose, completes the cast, or rather, seems to be its life source as we learn that in the First Nations’ cultures they each hail from, the drum is considered the heartbeat of Mother Earth, which we can hear from any path or road we take.
Though we are sitting in plush lobby chairs, some with drinks in hand from nearby bars, the drum summons us to a thoroughly enjoyable short course in Native cultures through a dance performance window. From the first horse dance imagining stallions brought by the Spanish acclimating to these Southwest desert lands and peoples, to the pièce de résistance hoop dance, we latch on to a Native aesthetic and spiritual devotion to maintaining balance with nature.
The Taos Pueblo peoples’ hoop dance, of which Suwaima is a seven time World Champion, dazzles with the Olympian level skills it requires. It has a story line, progressing from the plants and insects of the beginning and ultimately to the spirit world where life begins and ends both.
Here is a video of Suwaima performing a hoop dance in a different setting.
If it occurs to you too that you are seeing a world-class talent do know that you are. Sawaima has toured his talents globally, but these days prefers to keep his performance engagements to a minimum so he can fulfill his duties as a community leader and adhere to the requisite rhythms of farming.
The performance concludes with a Round Dance, which all are invited to join in. This writer, like others who jumped up to join the line dance, felt compelled to do so, for fear of disappointing Suwaima and his fellow cast members. We had just been given a precious gift — friendship, a window to the wisdom of Native ways, and a new ear to Mother Earth’s heartbeat.
And Enjoy the Hyatt Surrounds
These Living Traditions Dance Troupe performances are held regularly at this Hyatt Regency resort. If your schedule allows you to juggle your visit to catch one, do so. Take time too to check out the thoughtful exhibit about Native cultures in this neck of the world that you find in the hotel lobby. Time it with a visit to one of the many restaurants in the hotel lobby.
Call the Scottsdale Hyatt Regency concierge for information-- 480 444 1234
Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road
Video courtesy of The Heard Museum.