African Dance

African Dance is a form of expression and communication that is used to celebrate life and to uplift. Each country has similar moves but their own unique style.  The moves represent freedom to express the joy of life and fellowship with others. Africans are born with God given rhythm to move and to understand the rhythm of the universe. African dances embody isolated movements that can be quite difficult to master. With the appropriate training these moves can be successfully mastered. These are known as polycentric movements, where the dancer’s body is broken up and various parts of the body are moving independently from one another.

Each tribe has its own form of dances that are uniquely different from the others. Collectively all together each tribe enjoy and celebrate each tribe’s different styles. dances are passed down to younger generations. The young learn the movements, often dating back to the times of age-old ancestors. Since there is usually no room for improvisation, many dances have remained intact for generations.

 

Origins

The Democratic Republic of Congo formerly known are Zaire is the heart of dance. Dance and movement originated from Congo and spread to all other African countries. The Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources. Its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of U.S.$24 trillion.

With its wide range of resources also comes with a community who knows it worth. Ndombolo is the number dance style in Africa which originated from Congo. This style of dance is executed to at any pace depending on the music being played and the artist. This dance is done for celebrations, weddings, events, traditional ceremonies and for enjoyment. Ndombolo is also one of the most difficult and enjoyable dances to learn depending on your coordination. It’s a clockwise hip swing that focuses only on the hips. The upper part of the body remains still with only a few hand motions. This dance is performed by men, woman and children.

The most popular dancers in Africa have mastered Ndombolo. Ndombolo has graced its presence in the most popular African music videos. Many Nigerian, Ghana, South African, Ugandan, Sierra Leon, Liberian and many more African artist from various countries have used and are still using this style.

 

Call and Response

The drum is a crucial and original component of African tradition. It could be considered the heartbeat of the tribe, setting the mood of the community and serving as a communal point of energy connecting tribal members together. Apart from the drum, African dance is also characterized by the clapping of hands and stomping of feet, maintaining a steady rhythm that is almost always accentuated by the singing voices of the tribe, all the while dancing. Through African history the drum has been known for call and response. When you hear the drums it’s a open door to welcome you to express yourself on the dance floor. Your response is your movement and display of feeling. Facial expressions are natural and effortless as well. Its apart of the dance experiences which is all connected.

 

Formation

Close couple dancing is rare in modern traditional African dance.  The dance moves are more often done collectively as a whole, and dancers assume various formations. The most common and popular are group performances with solo dancers, free-flow floor patterns with dancers moving freely on the dance floor. Dancers form defined pattern formations with dancers forming circles or lines. While in formation, participants follow the rhythm in intricate movements.

 

Body Articulation

One of the most important things with African Dance is body articulation. Most steps involve independent movements of different parts of the body. The hips and the chest might move in opposite directions while the arms bounce back and forward. Every movement is important and related to the rhythm. To master any African dance, you first must learn to control and move each part of your body separately. This traditional skill is taught at our dance studio. With the skill level of our African dance program teacher, our students pick up very difficult African dancers between 20 min- 1 hour at the most. The different dance styles that are taught at our studio is Ndombolo from Congo , Azonto from Ghana, Shaku Shaku Nigeria , Pilolo Dance Ghana , Rosalina DRC , Coupe Decale DRC/Ivory Coast, Odi Dance Kenya , Kwangwaru Tanzania and the lupele from DRC.

 

Popularity

Celebrity musical artist from the Democratic Republic of Congo were the first in Africa to make African music popular throughout the world. Artist like Papa Wemba, Kongo Bongo Man, Koffi Olomide, Wenga Music, Warrason, Fally Ipupa and Awilo Longomba put African music and dance on the map. Congolese’s music is not only about the songs and lyrics but it is the unique style and dance movements. These dances have been spread throughout the whole Africa which made Congolese music the number 1 in Africa.   

The music influenced the newest musical genre Afrobeat which was launch in 2012. Many Congolese dances have been sampled and used by the top Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and South Africa Artist. The launch of the movie Black Panther has caused a wide spread curiosity to African dance and music for the African Diaspora. Artist like Chris Brown, Puff Daddy, Beyoncé, Ciara, Jay-Z, Nas and many more have traveled to Africa to learn the unique dance style and to learn more about Africa.

 

 

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