NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THIS.
Choosing a dance concept can be tricky. Face the facts- the climate of today's world is sensitive. Is that a bad thing? NOT AT ALL. It might be tempting to do an African themed dance, or dress up like Indians... I’m not saying don't - I’m saying don’t cross lines.
Do your research about that culture, and be sure you’re not pushing negative stereotypes. Dance is freedom of expression, but you have to have a “cultural sensitivity compass.” You could argue that it’s the same as doing a cancer-themed dance and emotionally affecting an actual survivor in the audience - cool. Absolutely tap into that raw emotion. But when you’re putting someone else's culture on display and you have zero frame of reference for that culture (only stereotypes to build from), it’s pretty much a no brainer.
Example: I did somewhat of a Japanese themed hip hop dance a few years ago...I know a bit about the Japanese culture having been there 2 or 3 times; but I absolutely did NOT want to push assumptions/stereotypes about their culture. Instead, I chose to tell the story about the tsunami that hit in 2011. Instead of portraying the Japanese people, they danced about life, love, and the thought of losing everything you have. We used the emotion of that (along with actual audio from the media) to tell the story. We simply used dance to tell the painful story...and honored the victims of this horrific event.
When in doubt, don’t cross lines. But DO tell a story. Show the pain or the progress. Do your due diligence...research first, then build it into art. End rant. I also encourage dialogue on this because no one talks about stuff like this. What do you think?
Here's a video of that dance if you're curious how it all played out...
Happy concept choosing :-)
PS - I said it before and I'll say it again...I'm putting the finishing touches on a reallyyyy special never-been-done-before, year-long program for choreographers. Interested? Respond to this email and I'll be sure to keep you posted. Shoot me an email at TRAchoreo@gmail.com and let me know!