Scientific evidence supporting the numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits of dance, specifically European/Western dance (ballet, jazz, modern), aerobic dance, and dance/movement therapy, indicate that dance is an effective activity for promoting the health and well-being of individuals. This article evaluates research related to dance forms having sociocultural or traditional/ceremonial influences, which we have labeled cultural dance. An extensive literature review located 14 studies pertaining to cultural dance, of which only 4 were experimental or quasi-experimental, 2 were physiological, and 8 were descriptive. The experimental and physiological literature documented the benefits of dance-related cultural activity interventions among various subgroups of the population; the descriptive literature illustrated the role and importance of cultural dance forms within diverse communities. The research has established that cultural dance serves multiple functions (e.g., traditional/ceremonial practices, celebrations, healing, spirituality, cultural transmission, and social connectedness); however, there is limited scientific evidence that such dance forms are linked to improved health and fitness status. We recommend that cultural dance receive greater promotion and study as a public health intervention to increase physical activity, especially among groups at risk for inactivity, including females, older adults, and some racial/ethnic groups.
Keywords: Behaviour Modification (e.g., provision of item/tool, incentives, goal setting), Chronic Diseases, Community, Cultural group, Education / Awareness & Skill Development / Training, Healthy Communities (e.g., community development, multicultural health, rural/urban health) , Nursing home/long-term care facility, Physical Activity, School