"The book is fascinating; it is an informative reference to indigenous American dancing that provides a way to measure representation. . . . What is most intriguing is that Krystal's observations and conclusions encourage rethinking of identity, representation, and their complexities in cultures beyond indigenous cultures."
—Bulletin of Latin American Research
"Considering how little research exists on indigenous dance, Matthew Krystal's new book is a much-needed addition to the scholarship. He not only adds valuable ethnographic material to the literature on dance but also brings new insight to studies of identity as expressed and shaped through performance."
—Journal of Anthropological Research
"Interesting and entertaining book . . . that should appeal to students and general readers. Anthropologists of dance, of indigenous peoples, and of ethnicity/identity/authenticity and global process should find the book informative and amusing."
—Anthropology Review Database
"Ethnic identity is composed and contested through such practices; but why is dance the idiom through which such important cultural work is so often undertaken? Anthropologist Krystal broaches this central question with sensitivity and nuanced analysis, and his accessible prose will make this a valuable book for undergraduate collections across several humanistic disciplines."
"This is a thoughtful, helpful, somewhat unusually focused book that looks at K'iche Maya Traditional Dance in Guatemala, Native American Powwow, Folkloric dance in the Chicago area and at the University of Illinois's 'Chief Illiniwek'. . . . [The strength in the project] lies in Krystal's clear and helpful summary-analyses of the shared issues raised by these different performance situations, each involving Indigenous dance and identity in some way. I have ear-marked several sections of the book to share with students, including his analysis of recent thinking on 'authenticity,' 'folklore,' and 'tradition,' and discussions of the problems and controversies of 'representation.'"
—Great Plains Quarterly
Focusing on the enactment of identity in dance, Indigenous Dance and Dancing Indian is a cross-cultural, cross-ethnic, and cross-national comparison of indigenous dance practices.
Considering four genres of dance in which indigenous people are represented—K'iche Maya traditional dance, powwow, folkloric dance, and dancing sports mascots—the book addresses both the ideational and behavioral dimensions of identity. Each dance is examined as a unique cultural expression in individual chapters, and then all are compared in the conclusion, where striking parallels and important divergences are revealed. Ultimately, Krystal describes how dancers and audiences work to construct and consume satisfying and meaningful identities through dance by either challenging social inequality or reinforcing the present social order.
Detailed ethnographic work, thorough case studies, and an insightful narrative voice make Indigenous Dance and Dancing Indian a substantial addition to scholarly literature on dance in the Americas. It will be of interest to scholars of Native American studies, social sciences, and performing arts.