Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines the moving body as a performance site for cultural values and histories in America. It encourages cross-cultural analysis of structured movement systems that include both dance and nondance, while also examining historical approaches to dance and how dance can serve practical and aesthetic purposes. Dance is a powerful vehicle for understanding folklore since populations around the world transmit their folktales, mythologies, and histories physically—in conjunction with or in lieu of oral storytelling. Attempts to define folk dance and the forms of movement that are included in relation to tradition, mostly from anthropology, are covered and the suggestion is made to develop folkloristic approaches to the subject. This essay locates current conceptualizations of folk, ethnic, and American dance, and it suggests that folkloristics can better analyze dance, specifically narrative dance, through the metaframework of choreopoetics. This is an approach grounded in methexis rather than mimesis that engages with the community-centered aspects of narrative dance, analyzing it as a holistic unit and taking into account the staging, movement, costuming, music, and unseen layers deemed important by a cultural group.
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