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More than 30 distinctive Jamaican dances have been identified. According to the National Library of Jamaica, traditional Jamaican dances fall roughly under three categories: African derived, European derived and Creole.[21] The Africa derived dance tradition is divided into two types: religious dances and social dances. Religious African dances, such as the ritualistic Kumina, Myal and Pocomania, are integral parts of worship ceremonies. The aim is to bring the dancers into the realm of the spiritual and heighten their readiness for possession. This part of Jamaica's African heritage has mainly been preserved by the Maroon Communities. Social African derived dances include Etu Quadrille.

The Jamaican Creole dances integrate elements from both European and African cultures. Examples are Maypole, (originally religious but now mainly social).[21] Jonkonnu, Bruckin's, Revival, Pukkumina (possibly the best-known Revival (religious) style which still exists today) and Dinkie mini, a dance in the Wake Complex of traditional dances. Social dances that are European derived include those that accompanied work songs and ring games.[21]

Dance is also represented during the Jamaican Hosay, a Caribbean East Indian festival. Jonkonnu and Hosay are considered secular dances, despite the performance of Jonkonnu around Christmas time.

Dance theater is also growing in importance. Rex Nettleford, Eddy Thomas, Olive Lewin, and Edna Manley are four Jamaicans whose influences on the arts - music and dance in particular - has been extremely important. Nettleford, Thomas, and Ivy Baxter formed the National Dance Theatre Company in the 1950s. Other important Jamaicans in dance theater have included the Tony-Award-winning choreographer Garth Fagan (The Lion King on Broadway).

Dancehall, or ragga, music has inspired a number of dance styles as well. To understand the evolution of popular dance, it helps to understand the musical progression. Ska music, with fast beats, also had fast dances. The slow to rocksteady also developed slower dances, allowing dancers to stay on the floor longer. Reggae is associated with many things, including the Rastafarian movement, but influenced the newer styles. Dancehall music often creates its own dances based on moves in the lyrics of the songs themselves. Soca music from Trinidad and Tobago is popular with most of the popular artists from Trinidad, but many soca Jamaican artist such as Byron Lee, Fab 5, and Lovindeer are famous but also represent Jamaican music.