Larry Yazzie’s world is vibrant—colorful, alive and beautiful. That energy inspired him to pick up his dancing shoes at the age of 7. Now 45, this multi-talented dancer, singer, educator and international lecturer has become a much sought–after performer here and abroad—a de facto Native cultural ambassador.

A member of the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa/Meskwaki, Yazzie is a two-time World Champion Fancy Dancer. His credits include performances at the Olympics, the Kennedy Center, and international festivals in Japan, Ireland, France, Brazil, Norway and, most recently, Jordan, at the annual Jerash Festival. Last year, he received the 2012 A.P. Anderson Award for his significant contributions to the cultural and artistic life of Minnesota; in December, he portrayed a Mayan priest in a Mayan episode of America Unearthed, a History Channel Series on H2.

In 2003, Yazzie formed Native Pride Dancers; he recruited family members and talented artists to join him on tours to provide high-energy shows featuring Native songs, dances, flute playing and storytelling. A few years later he formed Native Pride Arts, a nonprofit organization that offers workshops, lectures and teachings.

This year promises to be a busy one for Yazzie with overseas trips, as well as performances in Washington, D.C. and the Minnesota State Fair. He will be teaching at the Kaha:wi Dance Theater in Toronto and in several pow wows in Iowa and Idaho.

Yazzie recently spoke to Indian Country Today Media Network about his love of dancing, his inspirations, Native stereotypes, the formation of his Native Pride Arts, and his hopes for the future.

How would you 
describe the stage you are at in your life today?

I have learned to accept the obstacles and challenges that come my way and to deal with them. Life’s not easy sometimes, but I’ve done my best to keep trying to move forward, to express my art and share it with others.

What is your greatest achievement?

We took our dance troupe to the Middle East in July 2012. I never imagined going there before. It was amazing to help make a difference in their countries.

Who inspires you?

My totally devoted but demented fans—you know who you are. All kidding aside: the kids in the audience, the ones who want to learn, all those who are eager to learn.

What does dancing mean to you?

Dancing is expressing myself, sharing my spirit, sharing my energy and sharing my gift.

What inspired you to dance?

The energy, the colors, the beauty and the challenge of the fancy dance.

What would you tell aspiring fancy dancers?

Create your own style. Respect the dance. Respect the feathers, the beadwork and keep the traditions alive.

How do you think the pow wows have evolved today?

They have become very commercialized. The competition pow wow purses are much higher and have sparked more interest in dancers and pow wow attendees.

Tell us about growing up and how that has influenced your career.

I grew up poor. I found dancing as an outlet or tool, and it has helped me become who I am today, professionally and spiritually. That’s what helped me to create what I’ve created: I share the dance, stories, and I create production to tell about the culture today. (Read more)

Photo by Christal Moose (Source)

Responses to "World Champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie Is in Constant Motion"

  1. Wonderful, Thank you

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your dance makes me feel good and connected to others. Thank you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Watching you dance made me smile. Great colors, have a great day.

  4. Anonymous says:

    so much heart ..........

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ya'at'eeh! My husband, now passed on, used to be fancy dancer along with his brothers, uncles and father. We are from the SW. They danced around the country and for the Queen of England years ago. Our family also used to dance, drum and sing and interact with tourists at 7-Falls in Colorado. It is truly a beautiful art form, and a spiritual experience. Always love seeing a good fancy dance, both men and womans. Keep up the good work. We need more NDN ambassadors with so much energy and ambition.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Muy buena ,conserva el espíritu

  7. Anonymous says:

    So beautiful, spiritually uplifting.

  8. Beautiful, powerful and inspiring. Which much respect from Indigenous Australia.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful man...keep teaching your indigenous heritage to all people.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Dancing was great but couldn't help but notice that is one gorgeous man!!!

  11. Unknown says:

    Hello there beautyfull Dancer, how are you?

    greatings from wiccy.

  12. Anonymous says:

    You are a beautiful dancer! Absolutely beautiful! It gave me goosebumps! My grandmother (R.I.P.) was Mohawk from upstate NY and I went to my first Pow Wow several years ago in Cherokee NC and fell in love with the culture, dance and people. I wish I had asked her more questions when I was young but she passed before I realized what I had lost. Any who, I wish you the best! Keep on dancing!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Simply Beautiful!

  14. Anonymous says:


  15. Anonymous says:

    Puts a big smile on my face, wonderful to watch you dance!

  16. Anonymous says:


  17. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful dancing, just love the colors lol. So I am curious about something. Your last name is Yazzie and as far as Ive seen in my life the only Yazzies are from the Navajo Nation. There are a lot of Yazzies too.Is that a comman name among your people. We have Yazzies in our own family. My husband and I live on the Navajo Reservation. My husband is Navajo and I am from the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. We wish you well and keep on dancing and keep on inspiring others ok. Good deal Sir

  18. Anonymous says:

    Love your foot work! Amazing! I have told my grandson's the same thing, just dance and follow your hearts. There is no special way, but your own. Feeling it! feet always starts moving!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Awesomeness!!...inspires me even more to experience pow wow in would be Amazing!!...Thank you for sharing!...Arohanui~Ngareta...

  20. Anonymous says:

    I love imndian and I'm happy to hear that white bofalo has come back.

  21. I am a quarter Cherokee and I miss these celebrations. You were wonderful.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It made the spirit within me soar! Thank you for this

  23. Anonymous says:

    I loved it the first Pow Wow I went to was at Mohegan State Park in Ohio and they did a dance for all Veterans and asked the people to get up and dance with them if they new a Vet so I got up and danced for my father and are forefathers and I felt so good and felt at home with the Native Americans I new I had Cherokee in my veins but doing my family tree has been awesome I am more Native than white and have always felt it sence I have been about 5 years old I love there ways

  24. Santa Fe,NM says:

    Hello from Santa Fe, New Mexico. We love you and look forward to seeing you next year at SF Indian Market. You are a spirit of beauty and symbol of inspiration to all people. You are a beautiful human being and I welcome you to Santa Fe anytime.

Write a comment