FAQ – Rise and the Dance of Friendship
- Why did Wovoka call the dance he saw the Dance of Friendship and the Dance of the Rainbow?
Andy Vidovich, beloved son-in-law of Wovoka, said, “Often when people participate in the Dance of Friendship they report seeing a sacred rainbow so beautiful they are humbled and astonished.”
The work-study program of Rise and Rosa University includes the performing arts. Art can either be scared or profane. When it is sacred it has transformative power making people better. When profane it makes people worse. Rise students will perform the Dance of Friendship and Welcome for local audiences, and, overtime, Rosa University students will perform it around the world and invite their audiences to join in. All the dancers will experience what Wovoka saw and be transformed because the Dance of Friendship is a reenactment of what Wovoka saw in the spirit world and it is a powerful healing medicine.
- How is the Dance of Friendship and Welcome done?
The most important part is not the steps because different tribes and people express steps and movement in various ways. The essential part is the dancers will intersperse themselves within the circle of dancers so that, ideally, no two members of the same tribe or race are next to each other.
Wherever Wovoka went he invited everyone to dance because the Dance of Friendship is not only for Indians. Andy said that whenever Wovoka saw white people, or yellow people, or brown people, or black people watching red people dance Wovoka always invited everyone watching to dance with the Indians.
- Are there any videos showing the Dance of Friendship done?
The most authoritative video of the Dance of Friendship is in the movie Billy Jack. Andy Vidovich was hired by the producers of Billy Jack as a consultant. His name is in the credits. He was hired to show them how do the Dance properly in a great spiraling circle just as Wovoka “saw it should be done”.
Andy said that after performing the Dance scene in Billy Jack some of the actors came to him overwhelmed with tears because they had seen the sacred rainbow.
Friends, the Dance of Friendship is real. It should be danced at every PowWow. It should be the centerpiece of all public Indian festivals. It has transformative healing power for all the participants. Even those too shy to Dance, watching on the sidelines, see it as a manifestation of how we should behave in the world. Remember, it is not the steps, it is the interspersal of the human family, both men and women and all races, in the spiraling great circle of life that produces a transformative vision of life for humanity.
- Will Rise students make videos about the Dance of Friendship?
Yes. YouTube and video making and sharing have become a great part of the internet global community. Rise will have various YouTube Channels, for example, and the students of Rise will learn how to make an array of videos – some of which, God Willing, will go viral and be shared across the planet. And some will be about the students and their nations and what it means to be a Baha’i. Others will be marketing and promotional videos about the internet startups and services of the Rise students. In summary, the Rise facility will include a video and audio production studio and the art of making compelling videos will certainly be practiced at Rise because user-generated videos of every kind are a popular form of communication that are shared on YouTube, Vine, Viemo, Ted, and many other video-sharing websites. Google reports more than one billion hours of videos are watched each month on YouTube and more than 100 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute by video-sharers.
- How important is the Dance of Friendship?
Very important. Not only do we need a Manifestation of God, but we also need a manifestation of how God wants us to act on earth. We cannot act like the Manifestation because the Manifestation is anointed or chosen by God and is therefore unique. However, we do have Abdu’l-Baha who is a model or manifestation of Baha’i behavior. Just as importantly we need a manifestation or demonstration of our comportment in groups and that, for example, is the Baha’i community. However, we also need a manifestation or expression of the Baha’i spirit in art, and the Dance of Friendship, a manifestation of the human family dancing together so that “the grass will turn green and the buffalo return” will go deep into the hearts of the dancers and those who watch them.
Prayer and art have the power to transform the human spirit. Art is defined as “the creation of beautiful or significant things.” The Dance of Friendship is a living prayer. The reenactment of Wovoka’s vision is like a sand painting because it uplifts and heals all who see it and reflect on it.
- What did Wovoka say would happen if people did the Dance of Friendship?
Wovoka said many things, but, Andy Vidovich said, unfortunately much of what was reported about Wovoka in the press or in Western stories was sensationalized by journalists and is false. Also, Andy said, Indians from various nations took what Wovoka said to suit themselves and even changed it to fit the understanding and or need of their people.
In short, however, and most importantly, Wovoka asked people to stop fighting and promised if people danced the Dance of Friendship “the grass would turn green and the buffalo return.” This is important because it promises the rebirth of the American Indian spirit and the American Indian nations, and, also, the rebirth of all those who share this planet because everything will be made new.
- What was Andy Vidovich like?
Andy Vidovich was a wise and thoughtful person. He had a friendly smile and bright eyes. He was active and hard working all his life. Before becoming a Baha’i he was a devout Morman, but, nevertheless, he was open minded and led by the spirit, he investigated. He read and reflected on Baha’i Writings. He asked questions. He looked deeply into the spirit of the Baha’is he met. He became a Baha’i after he was spiritually satisfied that the Indian way and the Baha’i way “fit together” and that Baha’u’llah is indeed the Manifestation of God for this Age.
Andy Vidovich was self-effacing. He said, “Tell the Baha’is about Wovoka.”
When Andy died his family buried him as a Mormon. The Baha’is did not interfere. God knows everything.
When Andy said “fit together” he would motion with the forefinger of each of his hands and push them closely together to show a tight fit between the Indian way and the Baha’i way. He was a holy man.
- When did you last see Andy Vidovich?
The last time we saw Andy was when we went to visit him at his home.
When we arrived there was blood pouring out of his nostrils. He was stuffing tissue in them and in an instant they were soaked in blood. We asked if we could take him to the hospital but he smiled and said, “No, I’m going to go fishing.”
We sat for a bit and he talked about Baha’u’llah and Wovoka. He held Ruhi, who was still only a few months old, but he was busy with his nose bleed and soon handed her back because he didn’t want to get any blood on her clothing.
We stayed with him for a while and asked to take him to the hospital again, but he repeated, “I’m going to go fishing.” We walked outside and were all laughing when we said goodbye, but, we were worried about Andy so instead of driving back to Sparks, we went to the Indian Hospital.
We knew where it was because months earlier, after Andy sent us out to teach door to door on the reservation, Gaellen was bitten by a dog when she was eight months pregnant and the Indian police came and took us to the hospital. So the nurses recognized us and were happy to see Gaellen and the baby. We told the nurses that we were visiting Andy and the entire time we were there blood was pouring from his nose.
The nurses looked at each other and then told us, “You have to go back and bring him here right now.”
We said, “Can you come with us and get him to come here.”
They said, “Andy, doesn’t do anything we ask him to do. You’re his friends, you have to go and bring him back now.”
So, we went back and apologized to Andy. We said, “Andy, we’re sorry, but we’re worried about you and so we went to the hospital and the nurses said we should come and bring you to them. Please, Andy, come with us. We are really worried about you. Please come with us.”
He looked at us and smiled. Remember, we were only 22 or so at the time and he was definitely an Elder for us. He was in his late seventies or early eighties and in good shape. Very active and strong. Finally, he said, “Okay, to make you feel better. I’ll go with you. But, believe me,” he laughed and said, “I’m going fishing.”
The last time we saw him, he was sitting on a hospital bed and the nurses were attending him. We stayed a while. He said, “Go on. Don’t worry. I’m okay.”
That was the last time. Andy told us many things about Wovoka including that he was a good man who never got mad. He was serene. Peaceful. And as a medicine man, Wovoka helped many people and most knew he had power. Andy said many people said things about Wovoka that were not true. Here are the facts: Wovoka was known as Jack Wilson. His wife was Mary. Alice, Andy’s wife, was Wovoka’s daughter. Andy and Alice were the parents of Wovoka’s grandson Captain Harlan Vidovich, World War II fighter pilot. Andy greatly admired and loved Wovoka. Andy became a Baha’i after careful reflection. He was wise.