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Dance & Cultural Identity
Dance and Cultural Identity


Movement is part of everyone’s identity. Whether or not we call ourselves “dancers”, movement shows up in many of the groups we identify with such as our age group, ethnic background and activity groups as well as many others.  Even when social dance or performance isn’t prevalent in a particular culture, movement still reveals and conveys much about that community. Examining dance as a cultural trait  - and learning dances of other cultures – allows us to better understand cultural and social experience as part of identity.

This extended lesson provides a framework for discussion and reflection about dance as a cultural trait.
In this lesson, Minnesota teachers and teaching artists learned Merengue (Latin) and Sowu (West African) dances, but dances from other cultures can also be used.

The essential questions for this extended lesson are:
What is your personal relationship with dance?
Where does dance happen – or not happen - in the different groups you belong to?
Who do dances belong to? Who gets to dance?
What might you understand about different cultures when you learn their dances?
How do we describe dances from other cultures without judgment and bias?