The Calgary Stampede Powwow features some of the best powwow competitors from across North America. The competition builds daily until the finals, when the top dancers in each category compete for a share of the prize money available.

Women's Fancy

The Women's Fancy Shawl dance, also known as the Butterfly Dance in some stories, is considered to be the women's version of the Men's Fancy Dance. It's worth noting that some dancers perform in the Old Style, while others prefer the Modern Contemporary style. The key difference between the two is that Old Style dancers utilize small footwork, whereas Modern Contemporary dancers incorporate high kicks and extensive spinning into their performance. Dancers wear a shawl & long flowing dress with a belt, and beaded accessories to go with their regalia. Some dancers don’t wear a shawl only dance with a scarf, and others wear the shawl on their arm. 

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Men's Fancy

The Men's Fancy Dance has many origin stories like the Oklahoma people. Some stories mention how it was created to engage young men into being apart of the powwow. This dance style allows for a great deal of freedom of movement, with dancers required to keep up with a fast beat of the drum. It’s fast and exciting leading up to its finale. Men's Fancy Dance regalia is often bright and colourful, with fringe, feathers, and other adornments that move with the dancer's movements. The style is known for its acrobatic and athletic movements, with dancers incorporating spins, jumps, and other impressive feats into their performances.

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Women's Traditional

Women's Traditional dance is known to be the first category for women at powwows. This dance originated with women dancing on the edge of the circle to support their relatives or husbands while wearing their finest attire. There are two styles of Women's Traditional dance: Women's Buckskin and Women's Cloth. Women's Buckskin features an all-beaded cape and a buckskin dress, while Women's Cloth features a cloth cape without beadwork, but with accessories as well. Both styles can be performed as stationary dances or as traveling dances, where the dancers move around the dance floor.

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Men's Traditional

The Men's Traditional dance is the first dance of the Men's category at powwows and has roots in the Lakota, Dakota, Nakoda, and Comanche people. This dance originated as a representation of men going to war, with each move symbolizing a particular action in battle. As with other dances, there are two styles of Men's Traditional: Old Style and Modern Contemporary. Old Style dancers perform without spinning or moving backwards and typically wear a single feather bustle. In contrast, Modern Contemporary dancers utilize multiple feathers, paint their faces, and incorporate more complex and fancy dance moves. This style emerged in the 1980s.

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Women's Jingle

Women’s Jingle, this dance originated from the Ojibwe people and was originally known as a healing dance. It gained popularity in the 1980s and even surpassed the Women's Fancy Shawl dance in popularity. Similar to other dances, it has an Old Style and Modern Contemporary version. The key difference between the two is that Old Style dancers perform in a single file and never pass each other. They only complete circles while dancing. In contrast, Modern Contemporary dancers move all over the dance area, utilizing fancy footwork similar to that of the Women's Fancy Shawl dance. Additionally, most Contemporary dancers wear feathers in their hair and carry fans in their hand, while Old Style dancers do not incorporate feathers into their attire. The women’s jingle dance style has the cones sewn onto their dress with accessories to go with their regalia.

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Men's Buckskin

The Men's Buckskin dance is a traditional dance style that features a war bonnet and is inspired by the attire worn by Plains men in the past. It is often considered a gentleman's dance and was traditionally associated with showcasing a man's wealth and status through the adornment of his regalia.

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Men's Chicken Dance

The Men's Chicken Dance originated from the Blackfoot Confederacy. This dance style represents the mating dance of the prairie chicken, with each move mimicking the movements and calls of the bird as it searches for a mate. The dance is performed smoothly and carefully, with the dancer moving to the beat of the drum. The Men's Chicken Dance is performed only during a straight powwow song and is associated with a Blackfoot warrior society.

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Men's Grass

The Men's Grass Dance is traditionally a warrior society dance. According to some stories, Grass Dancers were responsible for flattening and blessing the area before camps were set up, making them an important part of the community. The dance itself is characterized by flowing movements meant to represent the swaying of grass in the wind and are dictated by what's on the Plains. Tall grass, stones, animal holes, animal droppings, cactus etc. They dance to avoid them or make moves as they step on them. The regalia worn by Grass Dancers typically includes long fringes and colorful patterns.

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