Guide to African Dance

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Integral to the social fabric of life, African dances are reflective of the values of the community and there is often no difference between social recreation and celebration of rituals in the performances. The human voice is the most important musical instrument and the sound and rhythm of the drum evoke the entire community's expressions.

Some of the most prominent African dances are Ndlamu of the Nguni, a Maasai dance called Adumu, Ghana's Kpanlogo, Umteyo of the Xhosa, Yankadi, Macru, Moribayasa and Agahu and Mohobelo of the Sotho. Spectators can also participate in many African dances. There are several African dance ensembles and cultural companies that teach and perform all over the world to promote the dance forms. People interested in learning a particular dance form can signup for classes when in Africa. However, nowadays African dance is becoming popular all over the world and you may be able to find African dance classes near where you live. You can look for classes online or check the local art centres, dance associations or cultural centres that often run courses in many subjects, including various forms of dance.

Clearly emphasizing divisions of gender and community structures, traditional African dances follow strict rules. Usually while the body movements of men are fairly large, women make use of slighter movements with shuffle steps and bent knees. Different parts of the dancer's body are juxtaposed with each other to create complex movements and the ecstatic seizure is an essential part of a traditional performance. Couple dancing is mostly not allowed since many traditional African societies believe it is immoral. Warrior dances like Agbekor of the Foh and Ewe tribes, dances of love like Nmane in Ghana, dances of welcome like Yabara, dances of possession and dances to mark rites of passage or coming of age are some of the most common forms of African dance.

As for Northern Africa, there are several dance forms that can be explored in the region. Countries such as Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco all have deeply rooted dance traditions such as the Berber dances or the shikhat in Morocco. Egypt is another country with a rich dance tradition; Egyptian belly dance style, for example, is very popular all over the world. There are many style of Egyptian belly dance, ranging from saidi (a folk style traditionally danced with sticks), baladi (a traditional folkloric form of belly dance) or raqs sharqi , which is the most commonly known form of belly dance, also known as cabaret style.

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