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‘Fancy Dance’ addresses missing Indigenous women


Academy Award nominee Lily Gladstone, the first Native American to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar (for “Killers of the Flower Moon”), stars in a 2023 drama to be screened July 5-11 at the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla.

“Fancy Dance,” directed by Erica Tremblay from a screenplay she co-wrote with Miciana Elise, centers on the case of a missing Indigenous woman and her family on the Seneca-Cayuga reservation. Gladstone portrays the missing woman’s sister, who cares for her family and helps plan for a powwow while the search is underway.

The film, produced in Oklahoma, premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and will soon be available for streaming on Apple TV+. It has won favorable reviews for its depiction of life on a reservation and its attention to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women whose cases are often neglected by investigators.

Lily Gladstone in Fancy Dance
Lily Gladstone in Fancy Dance

Jonathan Davis, a volunteer with the Mesilla Valley Film Society, which operates the historical theatre near Mesilla’s central plaza, wrote to the Bulletin, “The film contains a great metaphor for the disconnect between Native Americans and whites,” as when a well-intentioned white character suggests a young girl take up ballet rather than ceremonial dance from her tradition, “because ballet is also dancing and involves wearing ‘costumes.’”

Davis continued, “There is simply nothing in white culture that I am aware of that compares to a mother-daughter dance at a public coming of age ceremony, nor is a young white woman’s first menstruation considered to be something to celebrate.”

A trailer for “Fancy Dance” can be viewed at the society’s website, MesillaValleyFilm.org, where tickets are also available for purchase online.

The film plays at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, July 5-6, at 7:30 p.m.; on Sunday, July 7, at 2 p.m.; and Wednesday and Thursday, July 10-11, at 7:30 p.m.

The Fountain Theatre is located at 2469 Calle de Guadalupe in Mesilla and can be reached at 575-524-8287.

Fancy Dance, Lily Gladstone, Erica Tremblay