Tony Simmons

Larry Yazzie, a two-time world champion dancer, will share his cultural heritage during a Native Pride event at FSU Panama City from 6-8 p.m. on March 18. Yazzie’s performance will reveal the history, traditions and beliefs of North America’s indigenous people.

The event will be in the Holley Academic Center’s St. Joe Community Foundation Lecture Hall, 4750 Collegiate Drive, Panama City. Admission is free and open to the public.

“By sharing life stories through music, dance and storytelling, we nurture meaningful communication among all people,” said Yazzie, the founder and artistic director of Native Pride Productions. He grew up on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama, Iowa, where he learned the traditional ways of his ancestors. 

“Among all the many forms of art that have been inspired by the Native American people, dance is, perhaps, one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring of them all,” said FSU PC Assistant Dean Irvin Clark. “To the average non-native person, Native American dances may seem like simple steps, hops and jumps that essentially keep rhythm with the beat of the drum. But these dances are so much more than that. Dance is a way of expression, a language in itself.”

Larry Yazzie of Native Pride Productions Kennedy Center.

A two-time World Champion Fancy Dancer, Men’s Northern Traditional Dancer and Eagle Dancer, Yazzie said he founded Native Pride Productions to give back to his community and to the world. His repertoire includes performances at the Olympics, the Kennedy Center, and the Smithsonian Institute. 

Yazzie also plays the flute and hand drum, and he sings as part of his performance. He has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s leading experts on Native American dance and has received accolades and awards that celebrate his work.

“I was inspired to dance at the age of seven years old when I saw all the dancers at our annual Meskwaki Powwow,” Yazzie said in an interview with “Cowboys & Indians” magazine. “I wanted to be out there as well, so I asked my mom if she would help me. She gathered the material and pieced together a fancy dance outfit for me.”

Native Pride Productions’ stated goal is to share cultural traditions through artist-in-residency workshops, performances, lectures, classroom instruction and theatrical performances to enhance access to diverse, multicultural artists for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Yazzie’s appearance at FSU Panama City is part of the ongoing Illumination Event Series, which brings workshops, forums, lectures and more throughout the year to encourage the community to engage in meaningful conversations and educational opportunities. The Illumination series provides opportunities to hear different viewpoints and learn from unique experiences.