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Grand Entry during 23rd Annual Hoop Dance Contest

Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest

Artistry, sheer athleticism, cultural traditions

This event showcases a unique sport. Prepare for stunning performances of the men and women who are vying to call themselves World Champion Hoop Dancer. The event combines artistry, sheer athleticism and cultural traditions to create an exciting, colorful and suspenseful competition.

NOTE: Lawn seating only. Please bring folding chairs or blankets to sit on. As the high temperature in downtown Phoenix on both days of this event is expected to reach the mid- to upper 80s under sunny skies, sunscreen and hats are highly recommended. Bottled water is the only beverage that may be brought into this event.

Last year, the competition was so close that two dancers in the adult division had to compete in an additional dance-off to determine their final standing, and contests in recent years have been decided by just one to three points. Top American Indian and Canadian First Nation hoop dancers are preparing to enter the competition and win the prestigious title and cash prizes at the two-day competition, in which men and women compete on an equal field.

Download the media release announcing 2015 Hoop Dance winners

Over time, the intertribal hoop dance has expanded to incorporate new and creative designs and extremely intricate footwork. Each dancer presents a unique variation of the intertribal hoop dance, weaving in aspects of his or her distinct tradition and culture. Individual routines are presented using as few as four to as many as 50 hoops, which are manipulated to create a variety of designs including animals, butterflies and globes.

Dancers are judged on a slate of five skills: precision, timing/rhythm, showmanship, creativeness and speed.

Special Featured Exhibition by Jones Benally

Jones Benally (Navajo), one of the oldest active Hoop Dancers, will present a special exhibition Hoop Dance on Sunday at approximately 11:30 a.m. Don’t miss this opportunity to see our Hoop Legacy Award recipient showcase his artistry!

Hoop Dance Staff:

Master of Ceremonies:
Dennis Bowen Sr. (Seneca), Tuba City, Ariz.

Arena Director:
Eric Manuelito (Navajo), Tohatchi, N.M.

Richard Bird (Eastern Band Cherokee), Cherokee, N.C.
Leslie Deer (Muskogee), Holdenville, Okla.
Herb Gray (Diné), Winslow, Ariz.
David Lee (Shoshone-Bannock), Ft. Hall, Idaho
Trae Little Sky (Lakota/Nakota), Morley, Alberta, Canada

Host Southern Drum – Head Singer, Kenneth Cozad Sr.
Host Northern Drum – Mandaree Singers – Head Singer, Sidrick Baker Sr.

Contestant Information

Download the 2016 Hoop Dance Official Rules
Download the 2016 Hoop Dance Contest Registration Form

For information on signing up to compete, please contact Jaclyn Roessel at 602.251.0244 or jroessel@heard.org.


The Heard Museum would like to thank the following sponsors: VIP Lounge sponsored by: The Teen Competition prizes sponsored by:
Logo for the Jay Kahn Memorial Fund

Jones Benally (Navajo), considered the oldest active Hoop Dancer, will give a special exhibition on Sunday, Feb. 14 at about 11:30 a.m.

Event Details

February 13 – 14
Saturday – Sunday

Saturday, Feb. 13
9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (gates open 9 a.m.; grand entry 9:30 a.m.)

Sunday, Feb. 14
9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (gates open 9 a.m.; grand entry 9:30 a.m.)

Adults: $18
Seniors (65 and older): $13.50
American Indians: $12
Heard Museum members: $12
Children age 4–12: $7.50
Children 3 and younger: $0

Includes museum admission.

Purchase Tickets Online
(General Admission only)

Books & More, Central Courtyard, Courtyard Café, Libby Amphitheater, Museum Shop

Event Category:

Additional Information:
Start time of each day's grand entry is approximate.