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Nakotah LaRance (1989–2020), actor and champion hoop dancer

by Linnea Crowther

Nakotah LaRance was a world-class hoop dancer who won nine world championships and brought the art to the world as a performer with Cirque du Soleil.

Dancing and acting careers

LaRance, who was Tewa, Hopi, Navajo and Assiniboine, started dancing when he was 5 after his father took him to a pow wow, where he watched and met hoop dancers. He built his skill over the years, incorporating modern elements such as hip hop and moonwalking into his hoop dance and winning several youth titles. As an adult, he won the Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest three times, making him the world champion of the art. LaRance began touring with Cirque du Soleil in 2009 and traveled the world with the troupe for several years. He was also an actor, appearing in the 2005 Steven Spielberg series “Into the West” as well as the films “Longer Expiration Date” (2006) and “Longmire” (2012).

LaRance on his love for hoop dance

“As a kid, I was just amazed by the whole idea of this kind of performance. What got me going as a dancer was the challenge of the hand-eye coordination and the fact that you could use your imagination to take the dance as far as you could.” —from an interview with Indian Country Today


What people said about him

Full obituary: Las Vegas Review-Journal

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