Champion hoop dancer Nakotah LaRance died July 12, 2020 in New Mexico after an accidental fall.  He was 30 years old.

LaRance fell from a bridge in Rio Arriba County.


During his short career, LaRance performed with Cirque du Soleil, appeared on television, and taught young Natives how to perform the dances.  After returning home to New Mexico, LaRance taught the Pueblo of Pojoaque Youth Hoop Dancers and the Lightning Boy Foundation Youth Hoop Dancers.  His father noted that Nakotah loved teaching and giving back to the Nation.

He made his television debut in 2005 on the mini series “Into the West”.  His other appearances include the TV moive “Three Wise Guys”, “Expiration Date”, “Not Like Everyone Else”, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” as Crow Foot, “Longmire”, and “Lightning in the Hand”.

He began competing in the annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest when he was a child and went on to become a three time champion as an adult.

Champion hoop dancer Derrick Davis got a young Nakotah started on a path of dancing when he began teaching a five year old Nakotah.  Davis even provided Nakotah with his first set of hoops.

Hoop dancing involves intricate moves while working with several hoops that are formed into a variety of shapes while the performer dances.

LaRance’s father said, “the hoop dance is a healing ceremony.  Just a super energy that comes out of performing gives people a whole other feeling about them, what they saw and even about themselves.”

An Alaskan Native and member of the Tewa, Hop, Navajo, and Assiniboine Nations, he was born Nakotah Lomasohu Raymond LaRance on August 23, 1989 in Barrow, Alaska.

LaRance is survived by his parents Marian and  Steve; and sibling Shandien and Nizhoni; and aunt Lynnae.

The family is planning to hold a memorial once the pandemic has passed.


photo credits; Nakotah LaRance’s Facebook page