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date: 26 June 2022

(p. xi) Preface

(p. xi) Preface

Since the opening of the first doctoral programs in North America and other parts of the Anglophone world over the past quarter century, studies of what is called “world,” “traditional,” “ethnic,” and “folk” dance have greatly increased to meet the ever-increasing demand for materials to teach courses in dance ethnography, ethnomusicology, and anthropology, as the chapters in this volume and the many monographs in the volume’s bibliography demonstrate. Most of these studies have focused on single ethnicities or nationalities and their dances. Thus, it became clear that a volume devoted to the many ways in which dance and ethnicity intersect would greatly enhance and enrich the field. The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity is, in part, an answer to this need, as well as a summation of how much work has been done in the field until this scholarly moment.

This volume is not intended to be an encyclopedic or in any way a complete response to the demand, but rather suggestive of future directions of research that students of dance can undertake in this dynamic area of dance studies. It provides an intense look into the variety of ways in which humans and dance engage and intersect and the deeper meanings that dance performances produce as a mode of human behavior within specific cultural parameters. As nonverbal behavior, dance and movement provide a unique lens with which one can view human behavior, for humans consciously decide to dance, which for the most part lies outside of everyday motor activity, and it is for the dance researcher and scholar to determine and interpret the multiple ways in which dance provides meaning for its performers and viewers.

The authors of the chapters in this volume engage with a wide variety of theoretical and conceptual approaches to this nexus of dance and ethnicity as well as a wide and diverse assortment of ethnic groups and how dance and movement inform the construction and maintenance of ethnic identities throughout a rich diversity of cultures and societies. In some cases authors (Nahachewsky and Papakostas in this volume) specifically suggest new and fruitful ways that researchers and students can conceptualize and theorize dance practices, while in other cases the methodologies and frameworks that scholars utilize provide models for such engagement. As dancers, many of the authors have embodied the traditions about which they write, adding an important layer of authority. Thus, it is the hope of the contributors to this volume that their research will spur future studies, with new insights and conceptual frameworks in the important intersection of dance and ethnicity and what that intersection reveals of human behavior. (p. xii)