Research in Dance and Physical Activity
[ Article ]
Research in Dance and Physical Activity - Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.1-10
ISSN: 2951-4770 (Online)
Print publication date 30 Apr 2023
Received 28 Feb 2023 Revised 17 Apr 2023 Accepted 18 Apr 2023

Exploring the Educational and Social Value of Caribbean Dance in Collegiate Education Programs

Careitha Davis*
New York University, USA, Adjunct Professor

Correspondence to: *Email address:


The purpose of this research paper is to share my findings of the educational and social value of Caribbean Dance. While teaching Afro-Caribbean Dance at New York University, writing assignments and informal interviews influenced the approach to teaching cultural dances to novice and advanced dancers. The Dance Education program at NYU features an African Diaspora track for graduate students pursuing a teaching profession in African and Caribbean dance. This paper investigates the reasons why dances of the African Diaspora have been a miniscule fragment of dance study over the years in collegiate settings as well as the effects on community building and empowerment amongst college students. Research materials included historical timeline of the dances and how it relates to the movement vocabulary of African, Caribbean, and Latin dances. I used written assignments, informal interviews, academic journals, and texts on the history of Caribbean dance to investigate the ways students will be impacted while taking this course. My results demonstrate a counterintuitive effect of both education and social value based on the overall experience of the course and designing the curriculum for dancers to explore the richness of Caribbean dance. My study suggests that the reason why African and Caribbean dances have been categorized as unnecessary in dance education is due to the racism and cultural oppression that is exposed, making the course an act of social reform. I strive to provide a ritual and historic experience, personalizing the West Indian tradition and contextualizing it. Colonialism and slavery played a prominent role in the creation of folk dances that developed in the West Indies, in particular my study in Trinidad and Tobago. Learning a cultural dance is intended to recover the embodied knowledge that already resides in the people and the land it was created on. Therefore, the paper will include the method(s) for non-dancers and dancers to learn folk dances for educational purposes.


decolonization, Afro-Caribbean dance, social reform, higher education, dance history, West Indian, cultural dances


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