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Ethnochoreology is the study of dance through the application of a number of disciplines such as anthropology, musicology, ethnography, etc. The word, itself, is relatively recent and means, literally, “the study of folk dance”, as opposed to, say, the formalized entertainment of classical ballet. Thus, ethnochoreology reflects the relatively recent attempt to apply academic thought to why people dance and what it means. It is not just the study or cataloging of the thousands of external forms of dances—the moves, music, costumes, etc.— in various parts of the world, but the attempt to come to grips with dance as existing within the social events of a given community as well as within the cultural history of a community. Dance is not just a static representation of history, not just a repository of meaning, but a producer of meaning each time it is produced—not just a living mirror of a culture, but a shaping part of culture, a power within the culture:
- “The power of dance rests in acts of performance by dancers and spectators alike, in the process of making sense of dance…and in linking dance experience to other sets of ideas and social experiences.” ( John Blacking. (1984) “Dance as Cultural System and Human Capability: An Anthropological Perspective.” in Dance, A Multicultural Perspective. Report of the Third Study of Dance Conference, ed. J. Adshead, 4-21, Guildford, University of Surrey. Cited in Giurchescu (2001), below)
Boas, Franziska (1944) The Function of Dance in Human Society. A seminar directed by Franziska Boas. The Boas School. New York.
Buckland, Theresa J., ed. (1999) Dance in the Field. Theory, Methods and Issues in Dance Ethnography. London, MacMillan Press.
Buckland, Theresa J. “All Dances Are Ethnic, but Some Are More Ethnic Than Others: Some Observations on Dance Studies and Anthropology” in Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research, Vol. 17, No. 1. (Summer, 1999), pp. 3-21. Edinburgh University Press ISSN 0264-2875
Giurchescu, Anca and Lisbet Torp. “Theory and Methods in Dance Research: A European Approach to the Holistic Study of Dance” in Yearbook for Traditional Music, Vol. 23. (1991), pp. 1-10. International Council for Traditional Music. Canberra. ISSN 0740-1558 .
Giurchescu, Anca. “The Power of Dance and Its Social and Political Uses” in Yearbook for Traditional Music, Vol. 33. (2001), pp. 109-121. International Council for Traditional Music. Canberra. ISSN 0740-1558 .
Kaeppler, Adrienne L. “Dance Ethnology and the Anthropology of Dance” in Dance Research Journal, Vol. 32, No. 1. (Summer, 2000), pp. 116-125. Congress on Research in Dance, University of New York College, Brockport NY. ISSN 0149-7677 .
Reynolds, William C. “Foundations for the Analysis of the Structure and Form of Folk Dance: A Syllabus” in Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council, Vol. 6. (1974), pp. 115-135. International Council for Traditional Music, Canberra. 03166082