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  • Popplestone, Ann
    Reginald Laubin, 96, Performer of Authentic Plains Indian Dance By JENNIFER DUNNING Reginald Laubin, who performed dances of American Plains Indians in the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 11, 2000
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      FRom today's NY Times obits

          Reginald Laubin, 96, Performer of Authentic Plains Indian Dance
          By JENNIFER DUNNING

          Reginald Laubin, who performed dances of American Plains Indians in the 1930's, 40's and 50's, died on Wednesday at a hospital in Urbana, Ill. He was 96 and lived in Urbana and in Moose, Wyo.

          Neither Mr. Laubin nor his wife, Gladys, with whom he performed, were Indian, but they studied Indian dance and culture with Sioux, Crow, Cheyenne and other Plains Indians. The couple were adopted by the Sioux and named Tatanka Wanjila (One Bull) and Wiyaka Wastewin (Good Feather Woman). The two later lived with the Crow of Montana.

          The Laubins performed and gave lecture demonstrations throughout the United States and abroad.
          "They are bringing to school, university, museum and concert audiences not only the beaded costumes, the feathers and the ceremonial paint of the Indians but also the Indian's character, imagination, wisdom, dreams and hopes, given substance in dance," the critic Walter Terry wrote in a 1947 review.

          The Laubins were known for respecting the complexity of the dances, which they performed with authentic details at a time when American Indian culture was seldom represented on concert stages with such dignity or accuracy.

          "Theoretically there is little to be said in defense of dancers who go about doing 'authentic' dances of other races," wrote John Martin, the dance critic for The New York Times, in 1944.

          "Why the same indefensibility does not attach itself to the Laubins it would be difficult to say, but it definitely does not." Though Mr. Laubin's explanations of the dances were those of an outsider, Martin continued, "this air of the guide and interpreter falls away when he dances and he simply presents the Indian in his own art."

          In 1953 the Laubins took a company of nine Crow Indians on tour in Europe, Algeria and Morocco, presenting what was believed to be the first authentic Indian dance program performed there.

          Two years later the couple established a summer festival of Indian arts near their home in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where they performed for 30 years.

          They wrote three books, "The Indian Tipi," "Indian Dances of North America" and "American Indian Archery," published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 1957, 1977 and 1980 respectively.

          They were also the subject of two films distributed by the University of Oklahoma Press, "Tipi How" and "Plains Indian Culture with Reginald and Gladys Laubin." The couple received the Capezio Award in 1972 for their contributions to American dance.

          Mrs. Laubin died in 1996.
          Mr. Laubin is survived by a sister, Magdalene Neff of Toledo, Ohio.


      Ann Popplestone
      CCC   TLC
      216-987-3584

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