The word ‘dance’ has not generated any controversy, historically and culturally. Everyone likes this word. Turn the page of history of the Blacks, in America; it is daubed in bloodshed and discrimination. It is mysterious and demands protection. Psychologically it seeks emancipation from external and internal emotional stress. It creates a barrier and has latent vulnerabilities. It is hungry for authority, independence and power that have been denied to it since centuries. Even today, African-American artistic community has not come to terms with the definition of Black Dance. Taking into consideration the ground realities, the respectability of Black Dance is little short of cultural apartheid and it smacks of cultural imperialism. It still reflects the stereotyped idea as to what is expected of a black artist or a choreographer. The mind of the viewer of the Black Dance is pre-set to a program, as to what is to be expected and what is not to be expected.
The task of finding a final and appropriate definition of Black Dance is only possible for the enlightened group of individuals from the choreographers, dancers and other categories of artists and those with love for the art and critics free from the political and historical bias. Politicians, sociologists and historians should stand clear of this delicate task.
Those with a fixed attitude of the mind, and whose mind is flooded with reports of incidents of atrocities against the blacks by the white community will not be able to arrive at a fair assessment as for the merits of the definition of Black Dance. The historical wounds would perhaps never heal even when the Constitution of America guarantees freedom and equal rights for all. But the grim reminders of slavery that begin in the year 1884 and the series of inhuman atrocities committed against them over the decades is impossible to erase from the mind of a student of history of blacks. Keep aside the emotional aspect of the Black Dance for a while and come to its realities and categories as an art form. Hip-hop is a kind of black dance, but it is not the exclusive domain of the black artists. Black Dance generally concentrates in lower positions like going to the ground and other parallel movements, unlike Ballet, where the artists are ever eager to leap into air and mostly work on toes. But black dances are powerful and exciting; they jump all the time to the rhythm of the drums. They swing their arms and heads, and seem to engage the challenges of life. Black Dance performances do not relate to the suffering and submissive aspect of the black people. Some dances also represent the fierce convictions of those who never barter the freedom of their souls and do not submit to the highhanded attitudes of the whites. They take a challenging stand against the vicissitudes of the community. Their rhythmic movements, to the accompaniment of sound and the musical instruments indicate their inner joy, in trying to pierce the wall of frustration to seek the sunlight of hope. Pearl Primus argues “Dance is only a part of the whole or the complex living” African dance represents their life, their souls, and their beliefs. Also, “African dance ranges from the subtlest and most lyric of movements to the most dynamic, from the most sophisticated choreographed presentations to the simplest.” ( p, 3-11)Black Dance is not restricted to the stage performances in the American cities; it has a profound history, which is