Often when talking about societies broad generalization are made. However, it is a gross error to assume and broadly characterize dances as being attributed to an entire population. Another term which can be used to describe this erroneous practice is that of “monolithic wholes”. It is important to remember that there is no such thing as the African dance, instead each of the individual African cultures and many different types of dances. As such it is important to not use broad terms like African dance but to instead use the specific names of the dances, such as Dahomean dances and Hausa dances.
Differences in Native American Dances:
The Cherokee war dance does not use brightly colored costumes
Cherokee dance involves use of arms and feet.
Different starting positions and posture (crouched, standing straight, bent over)
Some dances use bells whereas others do not
Some costumes rely on feathers where as others are just fabric
Some dances involve the use of masks, others keep the face uncovered
Similarities in Native American Dances:
All use some form of heavy base drum or stomping.
All dances involve some form of chanting.
Almost all use brightly colored costumes.
Movement is primarily in the feet and involves small movements.
Rigid upper body posture.
Similar tempo in most of the dances
Because of the variations in types of dance it can be difficult to determine the overall definition of dance. The key components of Kealiinohomoku definition are first that dance is a human activity. Previous definitions of dance had often compared it to movement seen by other species of animals. However, because human dance occurs with an intent to create and execute it, this movement is different from that of other animals which move out of necessity. Finally, another key component is the acknowledgement of the activity as dance by a particular group. Without this acknowledgement, the activity can not be considered dance.