Dance intersects with ethnicity in a powerful variety of ways and in a broad set of venues. Dance practices and attitudes about ethnicity have sometimes been the source of outright discord, such as when African Americans were—and sometimes still are—told that their bodies are “not right” for ballet, when Anglo Americans painted their faces black to perform in minstrel shows, when nineteenth-century Christian missionaries banned the performance of particular native dance traditions throughout much of Polynesia, and when the Spanish conquistadors and church officials banned sacred Aztec dance rituals. The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity brings together scholars from across the globe to investigate what it means to define oneself in an ethnic category and how this category is performed and represented by dance as an ethnicity. The chapters in the book place a reflective lens on dance and its context to examine the role of dance as performed embodiment of the historical moments and associated lived identities. In bringing modern dance and ballet into the conversation alongside forms more often considered ethnic, the chapters ask the reader to contemplate previous categories of folk, ethnic, classical, and modern. From this standpoint, the book considers how dance maintains, challenges, resists, or in some cases evolves new forms of identity based on prior categories. Ultimately, the goal of the book is to acknowledge the depth of research that has been undertaken and to promote continued research and conceptualization of dance and its role in the creation of ethnicity.
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