In the Americas Africans began to develop their dances collectively. That is to say, as a Pan-African identity started to develop in the “New World”, due largely to a great lumping of diverse African ethnicities, the involuntary African migrants started to develop a collective identity based more so on land (or region) than ethnicity. As a result, religious beliefs, customs and mores also began to mix, mingle and ultimately develop into the cultures that are expressed in the present day; this is particularly true with regard to African dance. Meaning, African dance in the Americas is a result of intra-African ethnic blending that has developed through the generations. Further, this phenomenon manifests itself in different dynamic forms that essentially still operate as ritualistic spiritual expression. Yvonne Daniels argues: “the dancing body still functions with in ritual communities as a source of spiritual communication, aesthetic expression, and the site of extraordinary transformation." Consequently, despite the excruciating inhumanity suffered by Africans in the Americas dance is a powerful example of cultural retentions.
In the 20th century African American music and dance once again began to take on a great variety of expressions. Due to minor but significant freedoms gained by the turn of the 19th century, African Americans were no longer restricted to hush harbors to more fully express themselves. Therefore, different types of music and dance were able to flourish. While dancing in churches in the early 20th century was still restricted to styles that kept legs stiff and uncrossed, other musical forms such as ragtime, jazz and the blues encouraged new innovative corporal movements. Dances like the One-Step, the Peabody, Tap, the Lindy Hop, the Charleston, the Funky Butt and the Strut demonstrated a high capacity for innovation and improvisation while adhering to African time/meter signature.
Still, the continuity between dance and spirituality in African American life may have lost some of its potency. Club dances that are performed on Friday and Saturday are not to appear in front of the congregation on Sunday; as well, praise dancing is, for the most part, not performed publicly outside of church. I would argue this is because the line between a religious life and a secular one in the United States was and continues to be well pronounced. That is to say, there is a certain continuity that existed between dance and spirit in the most continental African communities; to dance is to express one’s spirit and to dance in a “provocative manner” is to invoke spirit. Historically however, because there has been such a bold line between the spiritual and secular lives of people in the US, certain dances are for the world but when the spirit moves in church only praise dancing is allowed, if dancing is allowed at all. Yet, while many African American churches still observe the pronounced margin that has been drawn between a spiritual and a secular life, the line has become somewhat blurred as history progressed.
This is most true in the case of Hip Hop culture. Specifically, break dancing encapsulates a number of transcendent traits which connect the continent to the diaspora. That is, break dancing centers on community collaboration, non-violent conflict resolution, improvisation, poly-rhythmic tempos, and intra-ethnic cooperation. Further, within the drama of a Hip Hop performance the DJ assumes the role of a drumming Babalao, conjuring spirits that mount break dancers who spin on cardboard boxes and work the audience into a spiritual frenzy, much like what can be witnessed on Sunday mornings or in African conjure traditions. In these settings the sacred and profane gyrate in unison maintaining the all-important concept of balance with in African spiritual life.
Also, in the Americas many still adhere to the conjure traditions of the African continent therefore the dances of particular deities are still prominent. Moreover, the dances that are performed are not just for religious purposes but also function as linctus for the ills of the community. Yvonne Daniel author of Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Condomble remarks: “Dancing in repetitive ceremonial practice feeds the physical and social body.” Simply put, African dance works to ensure the health of a person’s body as well as the community body at large. Furthermore, through dance, the diasporic African community in the Americas has retained memory through the rhythm of swaying hips and stomping feet.
Essentially, what connects the performance of dance in the Africana worldview is a keen understanding of balance. As discussed, on the African continent the sacred and profane are recognized and celebrated together. In the Americas, the oppressed have had to wade through the dichotomous understanding of American interpretations of Christianity in order to retain a sense of balance through dance. Still, this sense of balance is paramount for Africans in the Americas because by their very existence they have had to mediate contradicting forces. This is akin to DuBois’ double-consciousness but taken a step further. Meaning, African Americans have had to balance between being African and American simultaneously, but African dance has presented (and continues to present) the opportunity to balance the sacred and profane, a spiritual double-consciousness.
In essence, African dance represents a unique space at the crossroads between powerful dichotomies that impact all humans: life and death, sacred and profane, movement and stagnation, active and inert. American Christianity has amplified this divide, but in doing so it has also demonstrated the weaknesses of division and the strengths of cohesion. While African dance may be tempered and controlled in certain contexts, the reaffirmation and rise of the practice of African Traditional Religions (ATR) in the Americas has opened many up to the steps and movements of the ancestors.
 As groups of Africans were taken to different locales in the Americas, ethnicities such as Ewe, Akan, Fon, Yoruba, Mande, Igbo, Ngola, Mandinka, etc., began to amalgamate over the course of many generations. Meaning, what was once separate cultures and ethnicities began blend together to form a collective identity based on the land mass, i.e., Jamaicans, Brazilians, Cubans, Haitians, etc. This is not to suggest that cultural exchange did not take place on the continent of Africa, because it did. Instead this is to imply that a more intensified exchange took place in the Americas for a number of reasons: great diversity of cultures in smaller geographic areas, an expediency of exchange due to the oppressive conditions (essentially cultures needed to evolve in order to survive) and an adaptation to a race based consciousness rather than an ethnic consciousness.
 Yvonne Daniel. Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba and Bahian Condomble. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005), 2.
 Ibid., 61.
 Katrian Hazzard-Gordon. Jookin’: The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 63-75.
 Thomas F. DeFrantz. "The black beat made visible: hip hop dance and body power." Of the presence of the body: Essays on dance and performance theory (2004): 64-81. Of particular interest is the discussion of Black social dances and their private versus public meanings.
 Cheryl L. Keyes. “At the Crossroads: Rap Music and Its African Nexus.” Ethnomusicology vol. 40, no. 2 (1996): 223-248.
 Estrelda Y. Alexander. Black Fire: One Hundred Years of African American Pentecostalism. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 33.
 Yvonne Daniel. Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Condomble. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2005).
 Ibid., 5.
 Karen McCarthy Brown. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. (Berkely: University of California Press, 1991), 374.
 W.E.B. DuBois. The Souls of Black Folk. (Chicago, Illinois, 1903), 2. “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
 Elizabeth McAlister. Rara!: Vodou, Power and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). Karen McCarthy Brown. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).