Dance From Around the World: Africa

This post is slightly different from the ones I have written before. Today I am going for a little dance education. Earlier this week I went to the library and borrowed a few books for some leisurely reading. Being a college student for the past four years almost erased the concept of leisurely reading from my mind. Almost... I am sure you can accurately guess the common theme of books I checked out. That’s right, they were all dance related. One is about 20th century dance, one is a collection of interviews with great dancers and the remainder are about how dance intersects with gender, sexuality, and society.

Although I consider dance a major part of my life, I can’t say that I really know the roots or origins of the different styles. How many of us, dancers and non-dancers alike, can really say we know the origins of ballet comes or the history of the tango? Probably a select few. We may have a general idea but for the most part, I would say that we are mostly clueless. When you learn more about a dance, including the choreography and the message behind it, you can really begin to deepen your appreciation for it. This is probably why ballets have elaborate story lines or choreographers like  to tell share inspiration.

When I was searching for this post’s video, I just wanted a great example of African dance. I typed “African dance” into the YouTube search bar but I couldn’t quite what I was looking for. I then typed in “African modern dance” and began finding videos that were short trailers for documentaries on dance. I settled on this particular video because it highlights a wide range of African dance and also has really great information that gives you insight into what African dance is.

This video certainly deepened my understanding of African dance and its nuances. You will begin to see that there is no one singular type of African dance. That would probably explain why I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for earlier. You will see African dance performed individually and in a group, with fast music and slow music. You will start to see what African dance is in its various forms. I would definitely encourage you to watch the video twice; the first time to focus on the speakers and the second time to focus on the actual dances.

One of the speakers in the video clip says, “Dance is the major component of the African culture and to understand dance is to understand Africa in a profound way.” It is my hope that by watching this video, you will learn a little more about the origins of African dance and appreciate its influences and essence. Enjoy!

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