West African Dance Ashley Hyde and Mikayla Timothy
Who Dances? The Community! Men, women, and children! Dances are often segregated by gender to reinforce gender roles in children. Community Structures such as kinship, age and status are also reinforced. Dances are both religious and non-religious. Examples…
Adumu Performed during Eunoto, the coming of age ceremony of warriors. Referred to as Aigus, or "the jumping dance" by non-Maasai. A circle is formed by the warriors, and one or two at a time will enter the center to begin jumping while maintaining a narrow posture, never letting their heels touch the ground. Members of the group may raise the pitch of their voices based on the height of the jump
Moribayassa from the Malinke people in Guinea, is a dance for a woman who has overcome a great adversity. The woman prepares by putting on old, ragged clothes. Accompanied by musicians, she circles the village several times, singing and dancing. The women of the village follow her and sing too. Then the dancer changes her clothes and buries her old ragged clothes in a special spot.
Gahu Gahu created by the Egun speaking people of Ketonu. Gahu is a popular social dance in West Africa. Music is very important to the dance. The lead drum called an agboba, a large barrel-shaped drum, can distinguish Agahu from other dances. Dance movements are closely related to the percussive rhythms and songs. In this dance there are two circles, one with men and the other with women.
Movement Simple: emphasizing the upper body, torso or feet Complex: involving coordination of different body parts and intricate actions such as fast rotation, ripples of the body, and contraction and release Variations in dynamics, levels and use of space. Utilizes the concept of polyrhythm (the simultaneous sounding of two or more independent rhythms.)
Clothing Bright Comfortable Loose Traditional Hand Made Different for each specific dance Utilize symbolic gestures, masks, costumes and body paint to communicate
Discrimination: Much of the African traditions were oppressed during the days of slavery, some of the culture was salvaged by disguising it in the face of slave owners. West African dance reached the Americas during the slave trade. Slaves were often prohibited from dancing but African based movements found their way into European dance styles, quickly evolving into popular American dances.
Contribution to American Culture The influence of African dance can be seen in early American dances such as the Ring Shout and the Cakewalk, and later dances such as the jitterbug and the Charleston. The influences still visible in the more contemporary styles of dance including hip hop and jazz.
What has been lost? Some of the traditions Early African history West African culture before slavery. The true meanings of the dances
Suppression During slavery, the plantocracy orchestrated the suppression of many customs and traditions, especially language and those practices that threatened the security of the system and its ruling class. They were suspicious of whatever they did not understand.
Conclusion West African dance has had many influences on modern dances, music and culture. West African dance is used as a form of self- expression to celebrate life, love, rites of passage, the harvest and to mourn death. West African dance is expressive and free. The movements are big and spontaneous. It’s terrible that these people were suppressed and some dances and traditions were lost. We must keep the traditions alive.