Most Popular African Traditional Dances
Most African dances origins from social or religious traditions. For an outsider it can take a while to get the meaning of the dance and movements.
African dance has transformed over the years with African music. The traditional African dance is gradually making way for more modern dance moves. Dance in general is the art of expression with coordinated body movement which aim to serve the purpose of communication. In various parts of the globe, such transformation seems to be the order of the day with some simple and funny dance moves sweeping across the globe like wild-fire as seen in the Gangnam Style dance steps. In Africa, the African dance transformation seem to be spearheaded by the West African countries. Answers Africa brings you 8 of the most famous African dance steps.
African dance is polycentric, which sets it apart from most other dance traditions in the world. As explained by the National Museum of African Art, this means that the dancer’s body is segmented into separate areas of movement, with each area being able to move to different rhythms within the music. Known as “isolations” in choreographic terms, these moves are quite complex and difficult to master.Most African villages had a “dance master” who taught the members of the tribe from a very young age how to perform the various dances.
Agbaei is another social music and dance of the Krobo of Ghana. It is flirtatious in nature. Oral history has it that Agbaei was founded when the elders of the Krobo land in their early days of settlement realized that the youth were having problems with “Dating.” The young men and women were therefore compelled to participate in this music and dance so that they can gather some tips to help them in real life situations
Eskista is a traditional Ethiopian dance performed by both men and women. The dance focuses on rolling the shoulder blades, bouncing the shoulders, and contracting the chest. It is one of the most complex traditional dance forms in Ethiopia due to its technical nature.
Ritual dance represents the broadest and most ancient of African dance. An example is the Mbira dance, the quintessential ritual dance of Zimbabwe. Ritual dance enforces and affirms the belief system of the society. As such, they are usually religious in nature and are designated for specific occasions that expedite and facilitate the most powerful expression of the African people that is ancestral reverence.
Fumefume is a social dance from the Ga people of Ghana. It is one of the most popular dances in the Accra Region. Fumefume involves graceful movements, exciting jumps and kicks. The movements comes from Ga traditional Religious and ceremonial dances.
Hlokoloza dance originated from South Africa. Kwaito artist Arthur Mafokate, introduced ‘Hlokoloza’ to Africa and the world. Put in his words, “Hlokoloza is a variation on several township dances put together with a bit of the ‘Hlokoloza’ swag.” Hlokoloza in its current form debuted in 2011 but has taken South Africa by storm with its patrons characteristically South African chant of ‘Ayo-yo!!’.
Bamaaya, meaning, “The river (valley) is wet”, is the most popular social music and dance of the Dagbamba of Northern Ghana. It began as a religious musical performance, but now functions during funerals, festivals, national day celebrations, and other social occasions. Dancing the Bamaaya requires a lot of waist movement and twisting. The maiden name for this music and dance, Tubankpeli, is now the main dance movement. Originally, only men took part in the dance while the women would sing, shout praises, and encourage the dancers. Now, Bamaaya is for both genders.