Fancy Dance

Fancy Dance

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The drama of settler colonialism in North America is the one that involves vanished red Indian ladies, riven families, forgotten dialects and coerced absorption. In addition, this cultural violence was also reinforced through cinema depicting Native people as unyielding obstacles to progress. But then how do we even describe this progress? What must our society be progressing towards? “Fancy Dance” on Apple TV+ does not seek to address these concerns, instead it questions the role played by white intervention among the American Indians. It’s a story about resistance in its most basic form–keeping a family together no matter what.

Lily Gladstone act as the central character after she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Killers of the Flower Moon. A representation of Lily Gladstone as Jax is depicted in this piece as a queer Cayuga woman living with her niece Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson) on a reservation in Oklahoma. Jax’s sister Wadatawi has been missing for two weeks, and she fears the worst.

Despite having an uncle who is tribal PD officer named JJ (Ryan Begay), he never does anything to find Tawi, and neither does the FBI around. When child protective services arrive at their home asking about Roki, Jax finally realizes that she must take care of her niece like a parent would do. However, when they unearth her criminal record, Roki forcibly becomes her estranged grandfather Frank’s ward (Shea Whigham) alongside his second wife Nancy (Audrey Wasilewski). Frank left the reservation years ago, and his daughters have never forgiven him for choosing a new white life over them. Although Jax never says so explicitly but makes it clear that this means Roki too will have to leave behind everything she knows and embrace a future totally devoid of any connection with her heritage.

Even though people around think of Jax as a delinquent, there are times when Tremblay and Alise’s script contrasts its harsh exterior touch with more subtle moments of warmth amidst nature communion moments. Everything Jax does is for the benefit of her family and land where she belongs since birthright is very important to Native Americans. She even has romantic ties as well such that time can be found to meet Sapphire-a stripper who wants more out their relationship evidently (Crystle Lightning).

Notwithstanding all these bonds with the reservation, Jax appears petrified of her life becoming similar to her mom’s. Even though she has no clue how she will accomplish it, she knows that she is supposed to keep them safe. With nothing but pure instinct fueling her actions, Jax takes Roki and sets off on a journey to attend the tribal Powwow in Oklahoma City. Since Roki had been going there with her mother every year, Jax does not want to ruin this tradition. On their way, Jax promises that Tawi would be at the Powwow so that they can be together again, a promise she cannot keep.

“Fancy Dance” represents the true lives of both Jax and Wadatawi without condemnation as it were. This means Tawi was a stripper as well who used to work at this strip club and Jax used to transport drugs down trailers for white oil rig workers like those seen around here. They did whatever they could to make money and protect Roki in a country where natives have limited choices about their own existence on reservations.

’’ It must also be stated that deroy-olson goes toe-to-toe with Gladstone – giving a subtle performance full of nuance as a young girl coming-of-age under desperate circumstances at only 13 years old.’’ She takes care of herself just like her aunt takes care of herself in return; it’s however very protective since she understands and loves where she comes from culturally and historically. Following “The Unknown Country” (2014) and “Killers of the Flower Moon” (2021), Gladstone continues her recent work by starring in projects that are dedicated towards portraying Native culture accurately.

The film’s best moments are those where Gladstone and Deroy-Olson converse in Cayuga, saying things to each other that weren’t meant for the white folk.

Roki’s journey with Jax is a perilous one, as her path is filled with dangerous white men. One particular scene places ICE in their way at a parking lot of a store. After Frank and Nancy report the kidnapping, this same FBI has done nothing towards finding Tawi but suddenly they are following them. However, these challenges don’t even come close to matching the profundity of this spiritual bond between aunt and niece. On their terms, Jax and Roki know that they have only themselves.

Though it appears sentimental “Fancy Dance” is about resisting an indifferent racist government that thrives on assimilation and cultural amnesia . This FBI which made its reputation by getting away with murder among Osage people now cares less about undoing racism and greed induced harm . The risks aside, “Fancy Dance” shows how communities take care of one another. With many more works hopefully from Tremblay’s narrative debut , it is simply beautiful.

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