Fancy Dance (2024) Ending Explained – Is Tawi found?

Fancy Dance Plot Summary

In Erica Tremblay’s feature film debut Fancy Dance, Jax (Lily Gladstone) cares for her niece Roki (Isabel DeRoy-Olson) after the teen’s mother disappears from their Seneca-Cayuga reservation. Frustrations mount for Jax when the feds neglect the missing persons case and child protective services try to take Roki away from her.

Why does Roki want to go to the powwow?

Her mother Tawi may be missing, but Roki doesn’t give up hope that she’ll be at the reservation’s annual powwow. Every year, Roki and Tawi dance at the powwow’s mother-daughter dance, so Roki assumes her mom will make it to this year’s dance. Jax encourages her to believe this, even while she worries that Tawi isn’t coming back.

Why does Frank call the police on Jax?

Child protective services take Roki from Jax due to her criminal background and move her to live with her grandfather Frank (Shea Whigham) and his wife Nancy (Audrey Wasilewski). When they don’t allow Roki to attend the powwow, Jax ushers Roki to sneak out with her and leaves a note for Frank, asking for just a few days. But Nancy convinces Frank to “follow the rules” and call the police on his own daughter.

Roki is happy to go with Jax. That is, until she overhears Jax talking about how Tawi may never come back. The teen yells at her aunt for lying to her. When the cops track them down, Roki refuses to go with Jax and heads towards the cops instead.

Do they find Tawi?

The cops end up completely ignoring Tawi’s case in favor of looking for Jax and Roki. But thanks to Jax’s digging around, her brother JJ (Ryan Begay) is able to track down Tawi’s body to a lake.

How does Fancy Dance End? Is Jax arrested?

Jax hears about Tawi’s death from Frank, who also informs her that nobody has heard from Roki. She goes looking for her niece at the powwow, but she doesn’t turn up for the mother-daughter dance.

That’s because Roki decided to join the following dance in memory of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Catching sight of Roki, Jax joins her in dancing. We see a police officer noticing Jax and calling for backup. She will be arrested for taking Roki, but the film ends with the aunt dancing with her niece.

It’s a powerful place to end the film because, while we know rough times lie ahead for Roki and Jax, ending with their dance signifies the strength of their love for each other. It’s also a kindness to end on a dance that honors Tawi, while cutting out the cops that dishonored her.

Read More: Fancy Dance Movie Review

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