Navajo Dance Culture
The objective of this assignment is to explore how dance and culture are a reflection of one another. The student will choose a specific cultural group; research the customs, traditions, historical and social context, as well as the dances of the cultural group. Then, write a 3-5 page paper that synthesizes the research. It will be important to refer to the following documents to assist you in crafting a well-written paper.
The Research: Choose a cultural group from anywhere in the world. Research the following through books, journals, and academic Internet sites:
History of the country/region and inhabitants: How long has the cultural group lived where they do? What is their lineage and geographical history? How are these elements reflected in their dances?
Social and cultural customs: belief systems, political views, economic status, demographics, educational systems, relationship with neighboring communities, family unit, gender roles. How do they dress? How do they celebrate? mourn? marry? What traditions are present and how are they significant? How are these elements reflected in their dances and/or how do their dances reflect these social elements?
Dances: What are the dances of the cultural group? What are their names and significance? When are they performed? Why are they performed? Who performs them? What is the function of the dances (spiritual, classical, folk/social, entertainment, personal)? Describe the movement of the dances in terms of Body, Effort/Energy, Shape, Space, and Time
The Paper: After compiling analytic movement description and contextual research notes, form a thesis question that you will reveal through your paper. While you may not be discovering something new about this group of people or their dances, you are synthesizing information to reveal your unique perspective on the topic. The overarching point of the assignment is to reveal how dance reflects culture. How does your research about the history, social context, and elements of the cultural dances connect to make meaning of this particular group of people and their dance form? Your paper should have one, clear main idea (your thesis statement) that is supported by at least three subtopics and a conclusion.
Introduction to the topic, statement of thesis, brief description of 3 subtopics. (25 pts)
Example thesis statement: The Hula Dance reflects the culture of the native Hawaiians by celebrating spiritual beliefs, by serving as a medium for restoring lost traditions, and by acting as a language that writes and voices the contemporary values of the people.
Paragraph #2: Discussion of subtopic #1 (spiritual beliefs) (15 pts)
a discussion of religious beliefs and customs (polytheism and animism) and how these beliefs are reflected in the native Hawaiian dances. Provide descriptive examples of dances. How does the movement itself reflect this topic?
Paragraph #3: Discussion of subtopic #2 (serving as a vehicle to restore lost traditions) (15 pts)
a history of colonization and banning of Hawaiian dances; how Hula survived and restored cultural traditions and customs; discussion of how specific movement was viewed as improper by colonizers
Paragraph #4: Discussion of subtopic #3 (acting as a language that writes and voices the contemporary values of the people) (15 pts)
a discussion of how Hula dance is a method of communication, the movement is made of words, not rhythms; supported by descriptive examples of contemporary Hula dances and their meanings
Paragraph #5: Conclusion: restatement of thesis and synthesis of how subtopics reveal that dance and culture are a reflection of one another (10 pts)
Format: Papers must be typed, in MLA formatting, and proofread for spelling and grammar. If it is clear that a paper has not been proofread, it will be returned without credit.
You should have at least 5 academic sources that are cited in an MLA-style Work Cited page as well as in-text citations when appropriate