This article should be summarized in History of dance
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The term African dance
refers mainly to the numerous dance styles of Sub-Saharan Africa
. These dances must be viewed in close connection with the traditional rhythms
and music traditions
of the region. Music and dancing is an integral part of many traditional African societies. Songs and dances facilitate teaching and promoting social values, celebrating special events and major life milestones, performing oral history
and other recitations, and spiritual experiences.
African dance utilizes the concepts of polyrhythm
and total body articulation.
African dances are a collective activity performed in large groups, with significant interaction between dancers and onlookers in the majority of styles.
Members from the Kankouran West African Dance Company perform during a ceremony in the Rose Garden, White House in 2007
Traditional dance in Africa
occurs collectively, expressing the values and desires of the community more than that of individuals or couples. Although dances may appear spontaneous, they are usually strictly choreographed. Improvisation is limited as it places the focus on the individual over the group.
Early outsider commentaries noted the absence of the kind of close couple dancing popular in Europe and North America: such dancing was thought to be immoral or in poor taste in many traditional African societies.
Among the Yoruba
, to give a specific example, touching while dancing is rare except in special circumstances.
The only African country whose traditional dances involve partners is Cameroon
Dances are usually segregated by sex, where gender roles in children and other community structures such as kinship, age, and political status are often reinforced.
Many dances are divided by gender, as a result of associations with gender-divided labor, as well as cultural beliefs about gender roles and gender expressions.
Dances celebrate the passage from childhood to adulthood or spiritual worship.
Among the Lunda people
, for example, young girls remain in seclusion for months to practice the dance for their coming of age
In traditional African societies, children begin to learn their traditional songs, rhythms, and dances from the moment of birth, starting with the lullabies
sung by their mothers.
While carried on their mother's backs during day-to-day work and social events, they are exposed to the music their mothers sing or listen to. Thomas Edward Bodwich
, an early European observer, noted that "children will move their heads and limbs, while on their mother's backs, in exact unison with the tune which is playing."
Many traditional African children's games, particularly in western and central Africa, include elements that promote the child's ability to understand rhythms.
When children are old enough to attempt the dance moves, they imitate accomplished older dancers until they can replicate the dances precisely. They are only permitted to improvise when they have mastered the prescribed choreography.
An African woman, wearing native garments, performs during a visit from participants in the West Africa Training Cruise 1983.
Musical accompaniment for African dances is highly varied. Most dances make use of the human voice in the form of singing, shouting, recitations, grunts, whispering, and other vocalizations.
Many groups use drums/ In an African community, coming together in response to the beating of the drum is an opportunity to give one another a sense of belonging and of solidarity, a time to connect with each other and be part of a collective rhythm of the life in which young and old, rich and poor, men and women are all invited to contribute to the society.
On the other hand, nomadic groups such as the Maasai
do not traditionally use drums.
Many African dances are polyrhythmic
, that is, they utilize two or more conflicting rhythms simultaneously. Dancers may synchronize the movements of different body parts to different rhythms, or alternate fluidly between rhythms.
Dancers in Nigeria
, for example, commonly combine at least two rhythms in their movement, or three if they are particularly talented. Any more than that is a rare feat.
They may also add rhythmic components independent of those in the music. Very complex movements are possible even though the body does not move through space.
Dance historian Jacqui Malone
describes how different groups use body parts in distinct ways: "The Anlo-Ewe
emphasize the upper body, while the Kalabari
give a subtle accent to the hips. The Akan
of Ghana use the feet and hands in specific ways. Strong contraction-release movements of the pelvis and upper torso characterize both male and female dancing in Agbor
Specific notable African dances, divided by region, include:
: a Maasai
jumping dance performed during the warriors' coming of age
ceremony. A circle is formed by the warriors, and one or two at a time will enter the center to begin jumping. Members of the group may raise the pitch of their voices based on the height of the jump.
Mohobelo (Striding Dance)
Umteyo (Shaking Dance)
- Indlamu: a stamping line dance performed by young men which comes from the Nguni people of Southern Africa, with numerous variations depending on the tribe.
- Jerusarema: a dance of Zimbabwean origin, characterized by quick, powerful movements and lunges performed from a crouched position.
- Mohobelo: the "striding dance" of the Sotho of Southern Africa also features leaping, kicking, sliding, and sinuous movements close to the ground.
- Muchongoyo: a Zimbabwean dance performed by men, with participation from women in the form of singing and playing of instruments as well as dancing along on the sidelines. The women sometimes form a line and dance around the men. The Muchongoyo is a spiritual dance performed to celebrate important events and connect participants to the divine.
- Umteyo: a Xhosa dance performed by young men, in which the whole torso is undulated rapidly. The Xhensa dance is a similar form performed by older men, accompanied by clapping, singing, and roaring.
- Ukusina: a Zulu women's dance performed in South Africa during Umemulo, the women's coming of age ceremony.
Dancers in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria
- Agahu: a circle dance created prior to World War II by Egun speakers in Benin speaking people of Ketonu, possibly as a modification of a dance style called "gome".
- Agbekor: a warrior's dance that originated with the Fon and Ewe peoples of West Africa. This dance is performed with horsetails, and the movements mimic battlefield tactics such as stabbing with the end of the horsetail.
- Assiko: a partner dance which originated with the Bassa people of Cameroon.
- Kpanlogo: a Ghanaian dance that originated with the Ga people around the 1940s, Kpanlogo is a free-flowing highlife dance form performed to conga-like drums.
- Kakilambe: a West African ritual dance of uncertain geographical origin involving ropes and a central figure in a mask.
- Moribayassa: a solo dance from the Malinke people of Guinea, performed by a woman to celebrate overcoming significant hardship. The dancer, wearing old clothing, dances around the village while singing, followed by musicians and other women. She concludes by changing into a new outfit and burying her old clothes in a special spot.
- Yankadi: originating with the Mandinka people of West Africa, this slow group dance is performed by men and women, and is usually followed by the faster Macru dance.
Dance in the African diaspora
- ^  Archived September 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Julie Malnig (ed.), Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake. A Social and Popular Dance Reader, p. 132. ISBN 978-0-252-03363-6; ISBN 978-0-252-07565-0
- ^ Omofolabo S. Ajayi, Yoruba Dance – The Semiotics of Movement and Body Attitude in a Nigerian Culture, Africa World Press, 1998, p. 34. ISBN 0-86543-563-4 ISBN 0-86543-563-4
- ^ a b Henry Louis Gates, Anthony Appiah (eds), Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Basic Civitas Books, 1999, p. 556. ISBN 0465000711
- ^ Welsh-Asante 2009, pp. 16, 23, 33–34.
- ^ Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History, W. W. Norton & Company, 1997, p. 22. ISBN 0-393-02156-4
- ^ a b Sebastian Bakare, The Drumbeat of Life, Geneva, Switzerland: WCC Publications, 1997.
- ^  Archived December 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- ^ "dfltweb1.onamae.com – このドメインはお名前.comで取得されています。". Laleyio.com. Archived from the original on 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
- ^ Tracey 1952, pp. 9–10.
- ^ Collins, John (1996). Highlife Time. Anansesem Publications.
- ^ Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2016-08-08). The Encyclopedia of World Folk Dance. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-5749-8.
- ^ Kennedy, Scott (1973). In Search of African Theatre. Scribner. ISBN 978-0-684-13044-6.
- ^ a b Keïta 1999, p. 50.
- ^ Abiola, Ofosuwa M. (2018-11-16). History Dances: Chronicling the History of Traditional Mandinka Dance. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-429-76784-5.
- ^ Doumbia, Adama; Doumbia, Naomi (2004). The Way of the Elders: West African Spirituality & Tradition. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 978-0-7387-0626-9.
- Kubik, Gerhard, Zum Verstehen afrikanischer Musik, Aufsätze, Reihe: Ethnologie: Forschung und Wissenschaft, Bd. 7, 2., aktualisierte und ergänzte Auflage, 2004, 448 S., ISBN 3-8258-7800-7
- Online Reference on Agbekor and Kpanlogo
- Online Reference on Agahu
Last edited on 27 May 2021, at 15:29
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