Native American groups such as the American Indian Dance Theater travel throughout the United States, singing, dancing, drumming, and storytelling to express their native heritage. Some dance groups perform a wide range of Native American dances; however, other dance groups choose to specialize in the dance, music, and legends of only one of the four geographic groups of Indian nations: the Eastern Woodlands, the Northern and Southern Plains, the Northern Pacific, and the Southwest. A dance theater that specializes in the Eastern Woodlands tribes would present the music, dance, and legends of these tribes and wear the traditional clothing favored by groups such as the Seneca and Mohawks. Some dance groups specialize in the dances and legends of a single tribe or Indian nation.
Because Native American music and dances are part of the tribes’ spiritual heritage, some Native Americans believe that only Native Americans should dance ceremonial dances. In fact, some purists believe that people should dance only the ceremonial dances of the tribe to which they belong and should follow tribal standards as to whether a man or woman should dance a particular dance. However, others believe that anyone who is interested in the spiritual aspects of the culture should be able to perform all Native American dances. Certainly the Native American dances serve as wonderful theater, illustrating both the stories and the spiritual concerns of that culture.