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Filmography - Folk and Traditional Dance

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of April 2011. 

Most streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

This is a selective list of video holdings in the American University Library. Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the ALADIN catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date holdings (including VHS tapes) please refer to the library ALADIN catalog (


Alan Lomax. Screening room DVD series: Ethnographic video online. 2005. 1 streaming video (75 min.). "Alan Lomax appeared on Screening room in August 1975 to discuss the theory of choreometrics and show the film Dance and human history. Alan Lomax spent over six decades working as a musicologist, author, record producer, filmmaker, concert promoter, singer, photographer, and network radio host to promote knowledge and appreciation of the world's folk music. As an anthropologist of the performing arts he produced a multimedia database called The Global Jukebox, which surveys the relationship between dance, song, and human history. He was a lifelong advocate for "cultural equity," proposing to reverse the centralization of communications and secure a valid forum for the expressive arts of all indigenous cultures"--Container. Streaming video.;763795

Chulas fronteras. Latin American music and culture [motion picture]: Latin American music and culture. 1976. Features the music and culture of Mexican-Americans living in southern Texas, showing food preparation, family life, dances, fieldwork, and   other social activities. Streaming video.;385058

Dances of the Kwakiutl.  Ethnographic video online. 2005. 1 streaming video (9 min.). Dances of the Kwakiutl is composed of fragments filmed in 1950 in Fort Rupert, British Columbia. They were made during a performance by those still familiar with the tradition of Hamatsa or cannibal dancing. This type of dance was brought to impressive artistic heights by the Kwakiutl people of the Northwest coast. Streaming video.;764162

Deep hearts. Ethnographic video online. 2005. 1 streaming video (58 min.). An ethnographic portrayal of the Bororo people of Niger, showing an annual ritual dance, which symbolizes their beliefs about containing and controlling their feelings of love. Streaming video.;764172

El Diablo de Cumana. Ethnographic video online. 1984. 1 streaming video (26 min.). Luis del Valle Hurtado regularly transforms himself into a drumming, dancing "black satan" in a festival fusion of Indian, Spanish and African symbols. Streaming video.;763898

The girl's celebration A festa da moça. Video in the Villages series. 2006. 1 videodisc (18 min.). This video is about the history of the Nambiquara people and their use of video as a tool in cultural preservation. In this documentary, the Nambiquara tape a dance performance and compare it to performances of the same dance by other clans. When they watch the tape, the Nambiquara realize that they look very occidental and feel that they are losing their identity. They decide to re-tape the same dance, wearing more traditional clothing. DVD 5232.

Iindawo Zikathixo in God's places. Ethnographic video online. 1997. 1 streaming video (52 min.). Examines the history and cultural legacy of the Khoisan (Bushman) of south-eastern Africa focusing on the aspects of their music, dance, rock art, oral history, and traditional rituals which have survived suppression and genocide. Filmed in the remote hills and valleys of the southern Drakensberg. Streaming video.;764256

Ilé aiyé The house of life. 2004. 1 videodisc (51 min.). David Byrne's breathtaking, impressionistic documentary on Candomble, the African spirit cult of the Bahia region of Brazil, that explores the influences on daily life and culture of the people of Brazil through music, art, religion, food and more. DVD 4101.

Japanese Dance Succession of a Kyomai Master . 2000. 1 streaming video file (53 min.). With a gracefulness equal to its subject, this intriguing program goes behind the scenes to film for the first time the private world of kyomai, Kyoto-style dance. The efforts of the 95-year-old reigning master, Inoue Yachiyo IV, to prepare her 43-year-old granddaughter to become her successor are deftly captured amidst footage of training sessions and performances; rare film clips of Yachiyo IV and her predecessor, Yachiyo III, on stage; background on the history of kyomai; and insights into the education of geisha, chief practitioners of this centuries-old form of Japanese dance. (53 minutes). Streaming video.

Keep the dance alive Que la danse continue. Ethnographic video online. 2007. 1 streaming video (75 min.). "A unique voyage through the music, dance and spirit possession practices of the Ovahimba people of north- western Namibia and south-western Angola. Keep the Dance Alive features remarkable footage of how dance and spirit possession is integrated into everyday life from infancy to death"--Container. Streaming video.;764293

Listening to the Silence African Cross Rhythms. 1996. 1 streaming video file (33 min.). Africans listen to the silence and use it as a dimension in which they can improvise,observes John Collins, an English musician and host of this program. Taking off from the peace of nature, the singing cicadas, and the simple routines of the workday, this program explores a kaleidoscope of musical examples from Ghana: children's games and their musical bands; traditional drums; sensual dances; trance dances; animated funeral music; and many other examples from the Ewe, Ashanti, Ga, and Frafra peoples of Ghana. Throughout the program, the leitmotif is social participation and the strikingly complex rhythmic sensibilities of the people. (33 minutes). VHS 7455 and Streaming video.

Maasai A Warrior's Rite of Passage. 2008. 1 streaming video file (41 min.). Entering a world of long-held rituals and traditions, this program examines the ancient tribal initiation of the Maasai warrior. Through unprecedented access to the three-day ceremony, the film documents the process by which Maasai boys and young men in Kenya's Shampole region come of age. Viewers will learn about the ceremonial duties of various tribal members-including the leader of the initiates and a prominent Maasai woman, both of whom describe the rewards of participation. As hundreds of Maasai converge on the manyatta, or village, the program shows warriors suffocating a sacrificial bull, drinking its blood directly from a neck incision, butchering the animal, and cooking and eating its flesh. Traditional dances, singing, and foraging are also depicted. (40 minutes). Streaming video.

More Than Just a Game Competitions and Celebrations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, and Sudan. 2004. 1 streaming video file (52 min.). In sub-Saharan Africa, traditionally minded people view everything as being touched by the supernatural-including what might seem, to Western eyes, to be simply athletic or recreational activities. This program explains the deeper meaning of the donga, ritualized stick-fighting bouts of the Surma culture; sacred Senegalese wrestling, an ancient village tradition that has met with immense enthusiasm in the city; weekly wrestling matches in the Sudanese melting pot of Khartoum, rituals of cohesion rather than confrontation; Tuareg camel races, symbols of communal unity and strength; the plentiful music and dancing that accompanies African festivals; and soccer, which in Ghana involves the spells of sorcerers. (Portions in other languages with English subtitles, 51 minutes). Streaming video.

Music Moves the World The Power and Passion of Rhythm, Melody, and Dance. 2004. 1 streaming video file (53 min.). This program travels to both developing and industrialized countries to capture culture-defining rhythms and melodies and explain the important roles they play in human society. With stops in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe, the video observes how music is used by gauchos and Cossacks, Sufis and Buddhist monks, Papuan warriors and Western soldiers, Senufo weavers and flamenco dancers, marching protesters and singing soccer fans, and many others. Harmony and polyphony, music as an organizing principle, the spiritual qualities of sound, and how the brain processes music are touched upon as well. (52 minutes). Streaming video.

Nguné Elü the day the moon menstruated . Ethnographic video online. 2007. 1 streaming video (28 min.). Produced during a Video in the Villages workshop in the Kuikuro village of Ipatse (Indigenous Park of Xingu, Brazil). When an eclipse takes place during the workshop, the villagers explain in their own words what happens during an eclipse, when moon menstruates, and about the celebrations and rituals that take place. The post-eclipse ceremonies include singing, dancing, vomiting, wrestling, and sacrificial rituals. Streaming video.;763719

Ring of fire. A Mystic fire video. 1990. 2 videodiscs (ca. 56 min. each part). A documentation of the 10-year voyage of 2 filmmakers, the brothers Lawrence and Lorne Blair, through the exotic, mysterious islands of Indonesia, which form a chain of active volcanos that arc down and around the Pacific to form the "Ring of Fire"--Magical lands where ancient myths still flourish. DVD 705.

Spirits of the Rocks The Culture of the San Bushpeople. 2002. 1 streaming video file (79 min.). The extraordinary rock paintings of the San bushpeople provide a culturally rich point of reconnection with humankind's collective past. In this program, anthropologists Patricia Vinnicombe-author of the groundbreaking book People of the Eland-and Frans Prins as well as Megan Biesele, cofounder of the Kalahari Peoples Fund, take part in an ethnographic sojourn with the San in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. To better understand this venerable indigenous people, they immerse themselves in their culture, partaking of their art, myths, beliefs, rituals, and healing dance. (80 minutes). Streaming video.

The Sunrise dance. Ethnographic video online. 2007. 1 streaming video (28 min.). This documentary focuses on 13-year-old Maureen Nachu, who lives on the Fort Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona. Describes the traditional coming-of-age ceremony for young Apache women, in which they use special dances and prayers. Streaming video.;763953

The Swahili beat. Ethnographic video online. 2008. 1 streaming video (28 min.). "The Swahili beat is an upbeat look at the remarkable history of the Swahili people of Kenya and Tanzania's East African coast. Packed with the music and dance of its indigenous peoples, the film takes viewers along the coast from the fabled island of Lamu to Zanzibar, Mombasa, Kilwa, Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam, tracing the development of the Swahili culture through the intermarriage of Arab settlers, arriving from Oman in the 8th century, with local Africans. The resulting Islamic hybrid culture cemented economic and social stability. The emergence of the Swahili as prosperous merchant brokers in the Indian Ocean basin and in the growing East African slave trade made them a lucrative target for successive waves of settlers, invaders and colonizers, including the Persians, Portuguese, Arabs, Germans and British. The Swahili have withstood all these invasions and maintained their Afro-Arab Islamic culture until today. Can they survive in the face of globalization, the Internet and tourism?"--Container. Streaming video.;763954

Talking feet solo Southern dance: buck, flatfoot and tap. pc2006. Streaming video (** min). Documentary filmed in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina featuring flatfoot, buck, hoedown and rural tap dancing, the styles of solo Southern dancing which are companions to oldtime music and on which modern clog dancing is based. Dances are done to handpatting, talking blues, singing, oldtime bluegrass and Western swing style music. Streaming video.,121

Two homes one heart Sacramento Sikh women and their songs & dances. 1992. Streaming video (26 min). Sikh women who have emigrated to Sacramento, Calif. from India perform several traditional dances and songs and discuss their lives in their new country. Young Sikhs also perform dances, some of which blend traditional and Western styles and music. Streaming video.,108

Uksuum cauyai = The drums of winter. 2005. 2 videodiscs  (90 min.). Explores the traditional dance, music and spiritual world of the Yupik Eskimo people of Emmonak, a remote village at the mouth of the Yukon River on the Bering Sea coast. DVD 2470.

Voices of the Orishas. 200. 1 videodisc (38 min.). An ethnographic documentary on the practice of Santeria in Havana, Cuba, and its roots in Yoruba cultural and religious heritage. Records a religious ceremony that features dancing, singing, and drum beating invoking the Orishas, and also separate dances representing the interaction of the Orishas. VHS 4177 and DVD 6262.

World Music Stories Behind the Songs. 2001. 1 streaming video file (54 min.). Produced in conjunction with legendary singer Peter Gabriel, this program takes viewers to a stage outside London as it documents the work of artists appearing at the World of Music, Arts and Dance Festival (WOMAD). In addition to engaging and powerful on-stage numbers, the film captures intimate, behind-the-scenes moments with world music stars, tracing each performer's origins and artistic journey. Featured musicians include Dr. Hukwe and Charles Zawose from Bagamoyo, Tanzania; the musical troupe Spaccanapoli, from the streets of Naples, Italy; and many others. (54 minutes). Streaming video.

The World of American Indian Dance. 2003. 1 streaming video file (50 min.). For centuries dancing was part of virtually every aspect of Native American life. Although outlawed at times by the U.S. government and performed out of context for Wild West shows, dancing now unifies tribal nations and preserves Indian heritage. This documentary explores the dynamics of competition dancingâ p8 s (3 )4y (Bits artistry, origins, and meanings, as well as the clash between progress and tradition that marks the contest powwow. Filmed at Crow Fair in Montana, the program was produced by the Oneida Indian Nation and aired on broadcast television. A general history of Native American issues is included. (46 minutes). Streaming video.