Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1994


Published in Great Plains Research 4:2 (August 1994). Copyright © 1994 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Native American Dance attempts to capture in picture and words life itself across the span of time and the people of the Americas. This is an ambitious project that seeks to identify many of the worlds and peoples of the Americas through their dance and its drama.

The photographs and plates of this books are rich, striking, and full of detail. So much so that one could be lulled into expecting that the oversize volume would serve best as a browsing volume that creates coffee table impressions. Indeed, the scope of this work precludes a detailed text from being developed for anyone area of scholarly interest. However the value in this work to Native American scholars will not be found in any individual essay; rather it is embedded in the totality of the work.

For the Native American scholar who has not focused on Native American dance, this book can provide a refreshing new context and point of perspective for experiencing these cultures. If, as Ellis says, dancing is life itself, then this book presents a compelling window to its subjects' lives. It documents, through the direct expression and the symbolism of dance, unique points of contrasts and comparisons for the varied cultures of the peoples of the Americas.