How is african music linked with dancing

The role of dance in African culture

As an African, dance is as much a part of my life as eating, drinking and working, but it is also an important part of our worship, following the guidance of the Bible where it is frequently referenced, particularly in the Old Testament. There dance is a form of worship — as a recognition of love and praise of God. It, along with other spiritual exercises, were believed to be accepted by God as satisfactory veneration.

We can see this in a few Scripture passages: Ecclesiastes 3:4 alludes to "An opportunity to sob and a chance to chuckle, a chance to grieve and a chance to dance. " Jeremiah 31:13 explains, "At that point, their young ladies will dance and be happy, youngsters and old also. I will transform their grieving into dancing." Exodus 15:20-21 relates, "At that point Miriam the prophet, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her grasp, and every one of the ladies followed her, with timbrels and dancing." The psalms too allude to the joy of dancing before God: Psalm 149:3 says, "Let them acclaim his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp" and "David lauded the Lord through dancing. "

Dance in Africa expresses similar feelings, not only of worship but also of social communication: supplication, passionate relational feelings and even transitional life stages, as persons move from one stage of maturity to another. It also communicates virtues, values and even teachings about social manners that are used to help individuals mature and celebrate.

There are general reasons why dance is so important. It is an experience that moves us beyond the material to the intangible, simply a way we can express ourselves when words are deficient. We can feel the delight of a newly discovered love, assurance in the midst of incredible distress or difficulty, the energetic fire of our childhood, and the serenity of our milder and gentler years.

In Africa what we call cultural or social dance are movements that embody our cultural values and standards. Each cultural dance has a story that reflects certain values or beliefs and thus goes beyond merely learning different types of moves. The movements in a dance, taken together, tell a story that is a way for one culture to share or tell their way of life to another.

To assure the accuracy of the movements that will preserve the integrity of culture, each clan in Nigeria has someone devoted to design and pass along the clan's customary moves. Because there are unique moves in each clan's culture, this "dance ace" guarantees that everybody knows what the moves are and how they are to be danced. These instructions are passed down through generations and some have never been adjusted.

Music and dance are such a regular part of daily existence in Africa because music communicates feeling, expresses soul-changing experiences, and even assists in bringing together networks of people who share common values and life experiences — all important values. Dance can build a sense of security and accomplishment and offer opportunities as icebreakers in meeting new people and making new friends.

African dances are usually participatory and each country has many unique styles. Some are really amazing. To name a few: Indlamu from South Africa, related to Zulu culture; Kpanlogo from Ghana; Moribayassa from Guinea; Eskista from Ethiopia; and many others. But, no matter how these dances are specifically conventional, every person who dances them brings her/his unique style and culture into the dance that also mirrors their country and history. It is always exciting to watch the variety of African dance movements and styles.

Besides being an activity for amusement and fun, dance has many health benefits. It reinforces physical and psychological wellness by strengthening balance, posture and flexibility along with assisting with brain development and life moods.

But, there is something very unique about African dance. Although, in general, dance uses a progression of steps and movements to resonate with the speed and beat of a piece of music and coordinates the body in a cadenced manner, most African dances are segregated body movements that can be very hard to organize intellectually.

They are known as polyrhythm and polycentric movements. Emily Willette explains more in "The Africanist Aesthetic in American Dance Forms":

Polyrhythm is the layering of different rhythms over one another and polycentrism is the idea that movement can initiate from any part of the body. These two qualities play together because different parts of the body dance to different instruments that are playing at different rhythms. [Robert] Farris Thompson describes learning polyrhythm and polycentrism, "my hands and my feet were to keep time with the gongs, my hips with the first drum, my back and shoulders with the second." All the elements of the music are displayed clearly in the body and nothing is left out. This method of dancing is another way of incorporating and valuing the entire body and bringing together the music and dancing.

Another way of expressing this is that the artist's body is in some sense separated so that different parts of the body are moving autonomously of each other.

The drum is also a significant part of African dance accompaniment. It very well may be viewed as the heartbeat of a particular clan, expressing its collective state of mind and relating this collective energy with that of the ancestors. Drumming is often accompanied by handclapping or stomping of feet, and is complemented by chanting voices as dancers are moving in disciplined steps.

Unfortunately, dance as a unique aspect of African culture was not so appreciated by the missionaries who came to our countries. After the Second Vatican Council, most African countries began using dance in our liturgies, but now, bishops in some of them are not allowing this important part of our culture and worship. We can only hope that such restrictions will end, recognizing that dance is a biblical action accepted by God as true veneration and love.

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African dance, performing art deeply woven into the social fabric of Africa and generally involving aspects of music and theatre as well as rhythmic bodily movement. See also African music and mask.

The cultural position of dance

In African societies, dance serves a complex diversity of social purposes. Within an indigenous dance tradition, each performance usually has a principal as well as a number of subsidiary purposes, which may express or reflect the communal values and social relationships of the people. In order to distinguish between the variety of dance styles, therefore, it is necessary to establish the purpose for which each dance is performed.

Often there is no clear distinction between ritual celebration and social recreation in dance performances; one purpose can merge into the other, as in the appearance of the great Efe mask at the height of the Gelede ritual festival in the Ketu-Yoruba villages of Nigeria and Benin. At midnight the mask dramatically appears to the expectant community, its wearer uttering potent incantations to placate witches. The dancer then moves into a powerful stamping dance in honour of the great Earth Mother and the women elders of the community. The dance continues as the performer pauses to sing the praises of people of rank, carefully observing their order of seniority. In this way a ritual act becomes a social statement, which then flows into recreation as the formal dancing by the Gelede team gives way to free participation by spectators until sunrise. The great Efe holds a central position, entertaining his audience with tales that make comic and satiric reference to irregular behaviour within the community over the past year.

The more significant the concept expressed in a dance, the greater the appreciation of the audience and the more insistent their demands for a skillful performance and for movements that fit its purpose. Dance is appreciated as a social occasion but is simultaneously enjoyed as an activity in its own right, entertaining and giving pleasure as an expression of communal life.

Thought systems traditional to African cultures are rooted in a world view in which there is continuous interaction between spiritual forces and the community. Spiritual beings may inhabit natural elements or animals and may also take possession of human mediums. This possession of persons is usually temporary and confined to ritual, as when the priest of the Yoruba god Shango dances into a state of deep trance at the annual festival, expressing the wrath of the god of thunder with the lightning speed of his arm gestures and the powerful roll of his shoulders. In Zimbabwe the Mhondora spirit mediums, who relate the Shona people to the guardian spirits of the dead, enter a trance through the music of the mbira lamellaphone, to which they sing while performing simple, repetitive foot patterns. Thus, the dances of priests and mediums confirm their ritual leadership.

Dance is used as therapy by ritual societies in many cultures. Hausa women, for example, find healing through dance and spirit possession in the Bori cult. Among the Jukun of Nigeria, a similar organization is called the Ajun, whose elders deal with hysterical disorders in women by exorcising evil spirits in initiation ceremonies. During a three-month period in a house shrine, the sufferer is taught songs and dances that have a therapeutic function culminating in a ceremony in which the initiate publicly joins the members of the society to perform the Ajun-Kpa dance. The female spirit mediums of the Kalabari in the Niger delta, using dance and song as an essential part of their therapy, are also credited with powers of healing.

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Many African religions are based on a bond of continuity between the living and their dead ancestors, who, in some cultures, return as masquerade performers to guide and judge the living. The complex web of human relationships is continuously renewed and restated at ritual festivals through the arts.

Traditional and contemporary African music - Cultural greetings

Leonid Yarovoy / Music /

The African continent is the second largest in the world, and its people make up 10th of the world's population. The history of African music is very complex. The traditional music of Africa is as historically ancient, rich and diverse as the continent itself.

Usually African music is transmitted by word of mouth and is not recorded anywhere. It relies on percussion instruments of various types, including xylophone, drums, resonators, etc. Ethnic music of the peoples of Africa, as a rule, is dedicated to a certain occasion - a celebration, a festival.

Dance, music and fairy tales are some of the oldest art forms that have flourished for centuries in Africa. Ancient African society never separated its life from music and dance.

The term African music includes music and dance. Early historical references can be found in oral literature such as folk tales, myths, epics, and odes. Music and dance in Africa have utilitarian and aesthetic purposes.

The utilitarian function involves the use of music in daily activities, including music for childbirth ceremonies, child rearing, initiation of rights, agricultural activities, national rites, during times of war, religious ceremonies. In most ceremonies, even funerals, music and dance are inseparable.

African peoples traditionally have a rich oral tradition that ensures the transmission of cultural heritage from one generation to the next. Scholars argue that oral literature and music are closely linked in much of Africa and it is often impossible to separate them.

Listening was an important skill that has been perfected over generations. A number of African musical songs and dances are still passed down from one generation to the next by word of mouth.
Some African scholars argue that the transition to recording African music endangers the performance of music and dance.

Those who oppose the notation of African music argue that songs are generally forced to conform to Western forms of musical language in writing. There is a need to develop modern ways of transcribing African music and dance, since traditional musical notation, as a rule, does not take into account the melody and rhythm of music.

Religion in Africa developed under the influence of the Christian and Islamic faiths. Foreign religions have played an important role in the formation of a real musical culture. This helped develop vocal traditions. Africa today boasts a range of classical music styles and instruments that contemporary Africans can play. Now they have musicians playing piano, violin, flute and guitar.

Other religions, African indigenous beliefs, had a long history of suppression by the colonists. Indigenous songs and instruments, until recently, had to be kept away from the West Christian African Church. But in South Africa people still dance Malombo. This is a dance that is known as a religious dance, as a form of communication with the spirits of the ancestors. Those who chose to join Christianity were encouraged to disassociate themselves from traditional music.

The influence of Islamic and Arab cultures on musical traditions was not very rigid, so African converts did not completely abandon their traditional music, even when they learned Islamic recitative or were introduced to Arabic music. The main influence on African music has been through trade, globalization and colonialism. Most of the local religious rituals have coexisted with foreign religious traditions since colonial times and have been passed down orally from one generation to the next.

Contemporary African music is also very diverse, but it has absorbed many of the characteristics of Western pop music in the mid-twentieth century. With the rise and development of the recording industry, African music has been heavily influenced by R&B, American soul music, Jamaican reggae and other styles from America. Today, the African music scene is as rich and diverse as any other continent on the globe.

What's more, the hip-hop style flourishes on the scene, developing in every sub-Saharan country, while the music of North Africa falls under the influence of Arab culture.

African popular music is very controversial, but what remains unifying is energy and diversity. Today there are a large number of musical instruments and styles in contemporary Africa. World famous African bands and musicians - Youssou N Dour (Senegal), Lady Smith Black Mmbazo (South Africa), Thomas Mapfumo (Zimbabwe), who develop their culture. Pop styles deliberately use indigenous sounds through the incorporation of traditional instruments to show Western audiences the beauty of their culture. The need for roots reflects their own sense of dignity.

In turn, African music has influenced a number of musical traditions in the New World, Europe and other continents. It is important to note that the African influence on jazz, reggae, rhythm and blues, hip-hop, rap and other popular musical forms that exist in America, Asia, Europe and other continents has long been recorded in the history of the modern musical picture of the world.

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African Dance |

The concept that conditionally unites the original dances of the peoples inhabiting Africa. A. t. is inextricably linked with the life, religious beliefs, folklore of every nation that has its own historical. and ethnic. past. Dance. culture of the countries of the North. Africa (Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia) developed under the influence of the common Arab-Muslim culture of the Mediterranean. An independent place in the development of A. t. is occupied by the cultures of the countries of the Ethiopian highlands and the peoples of the coast of the Southeast. Africa (the latter have long maintained ties with South Asia). Tropical zone, or so-called. Equatorial, Africa, despite the diversity of its ethnicity. composition, is characterized by an undoubted similarity in the conditions of cultural development and, according to the traditions of African studies, is considered separately from the sowing. and east. regions. Dances of the peoples Central., Zap. and Yuzh. Africa has been little studied.

Due to the originality of the historical fate of the African continent prof. dance the art of African peoples arose relatively recently and before the 20th century. was limited to the realm of folklore. The first information about A. t. give rock paintings (so-called petroglyphs) in the mountain ranges of the Sahara (8-6th millennium BC). The rock art of the Bushmen (South Africa) testifies to the role of dance in the life of Africans. The image is fantastic. creatures and dancing people in animal skins with horns and in elephant or antelope masks indicate the connection of the dance with the mythological. African perceptions. Terracotta figurines found in the area of ​​Lake Chad, called "disguised dancers", whimsically combine the features of human figures with animal heads, which indicates the presence of masks as an indispensable attribute of dance. A. t. developed over many years. centuries is synthetic. genre, a bright fusion of sounds, colors and movements, full of meaning for an African who knows how to "read" it. His main rhythmic the pattern is associated with the rhythm of percussion instruments, primarily the "talking drums" of tom-toms. The dance is accompanied by choral singing, often accompanied by wind instruments - hunting horns, reed flutes, ocarinas, pipes made of elephant tusks and tree trunks. The brilliance and expressiveness of the dance is emphasized by the use of masks - ritual, cult, play, etc. (sometimes weighing up to 6-8 kg), bright makeup, tattoos, as well as costumes, stilts, bells, decomp. jewelry (bracelets, feathers, etc.), weapons.

Most of the African dances. performances lasted several. hours (from sunset to morning). Tropical peoples. African dance was associated primarily with hunting and farming. Man used the language of dance, hoping to influence plants, animals and nature, to win them over. The hunters imitated the habits and cries of animals and birds; totemic performers dressed in animal skins. dances promised good luck in hunting. Before hunting for large animals, Africans arranged a big dance. representation. In costumes made of leopard, monkey, antelope or deer skins, with ostrich feather decorations on their heads, the dancers portrayed animals pursued by hunters. These dances were exceptional. richness, variety and sharpness of the rhythmic. drawing, for example. the Ndlamu dance of the Bantu peoples (South Africa), which has survived to this day, is performed by participants (up to 300 people) in costumes made of animal skins, fur bracelets and headdresses made of bird feathers. The composition of the dance is built linearly, the accuracy of the ensemble and the severity of discipline indicate a connection with the training of hunters. Sticks adorned with white monkey fur replace spears. The participation of a soloist is obligatory, singing a song and setting the rhythm to the dance, gradually accelerating and becoming more and more complicated. Traces of the old hunting dance are worn by the muchongolo dance of the Pedi tribes (northern Basuto), one of the few that have survived in the tropics. Africa dancing with shields. The high skill of the muscles of the torso is demonstrated by the Hausa dances, united under the name uteiro (Northern Sudan). The Zulu deer hunting dance (South Africa) is interesting.

Farmers, trying to bring the rain necessary for crops, recreated musical and plastic. pictures of floating clouds, peals of thunder, pouring streams of water. Many tribes were widespread dances of birds that protect crops from pests, dances of "thanksgiving to nature". The dances performed in the agricultural ceremony have a more fluid character of play and dance movements (for example, the tashada dance in Western Sudan, performed by men in brightly painted headdresses with birds attached to them, holding a snake in their beak, the round dance of the ngoma of the Nguni tribes in South Africa). The dance, which symbolizes the power of man over domestic animals, is accompanied by the waving of whips from the tails of buffalo and is accompanied by songs about the earth and the harvest. An important place in the folklore of African peoples is occupied by ritual dances associated with the cult of ancestors. Their great emotional arts. the impact is aimed at creating a sense of collective community with the ancestors of the tribes. The ritual dance of worshiping ancestors and the desire to propitiate them requires great skill and lengthy preparation from the performers (for example, the solemn dance of chikone during the ritual of sacrifice to the ancestors by the leader). A special place is occupied by dances-rites of initiation of young men, which exist in many. areas of modern Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, etc.). The dances, symbolizing the new birth of man, were so complex that they required 3-4 months of rehearsals (for example, the Venda python dance). Improvisation dances were not allowed.

Most of the peoples of the Central, Western. and Yuzh. Africa before the 20th century did not have a written language (it was replaced by oral literature, music and dance art). Historical traditions, legends and myths were preserved and passed down from generation to generation by musicians-narrators (in West Africa - "griots", in South Africa - "imbongs"). People's speeches musicians and dancers are widespread in many places. African countries. Accompanying yourself on some music. instrument, they sing and dance, talk about the great events of the past, broadcast the news of today. These traditions continue into the 20th century. The leaders had singers and dancers in their retinue, whose duties included singing and dancing to praise the leaders themselves and their guests, inspire the members of the tribe in the fight against enemies, mourn the heroes, ridicule the unworthy. In connection with the victory, whole performances were arranged. With the disintegration of the tribal organization and the gradual disappearance of the ancient traditions, art lost its ritual and cult character. In some African countries, prof. dancers performing to the public at rural holidays. In parallel with ritual performances, comedy began to develop. masquerades are purely entertaining.

The long domination of the colonialists in Africa disrupted the natural process of cultural development of the African peoples. The colonialists destroyed culture and arts. values ​​of the local population. The age-old heritage of the African peoples was declared inferior, and antiquities were eradicated as "barbaric" and "idolatrous."

With the success of the national liberation. movement of the peoples of Africa and the emergence of independent African states, the question of the development of African culture became acute. The problems of cultural development are not resolved everywhere in the same way, not all countries can allocate sufficient funds for these purposes. In many African states created cultural centers, which, along with the collection of muses. folklore organize song and dance ensembles, hold festivals and reviews, which are of great importance for the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage. Progressive cultural figures are trying to develop and renew the Nar. art in accordance with the needs of the present. They associate the development of folklore traditions with mastering the best achievements of world art.

First prof. The ensemble of A. t. was organized in 1948-49 in Paris by the Guinean Keita Fodeba. Since 1950 under the name African ballets this group toured Europe. The experience of the African ballet team was used by other dancers. teams from Guinea - "Joloba" and Nat. ballet of Guinea, toured with the dance. compositions ("The creator is the people", "New Guinea", "Midnight") in Bulgaria (1960), the GDR (1961), the USSR (1968) and other countries. In the repertoire of the National Ballet of Guinea includes dance. pantomime from the play "Stages", showing peaceful labor before the arrival of Europeans, colonial slavery, rebellion and liberation. Many performances are staged by the leading dancer of this troupe, Cisco Amadou.

The development of African national dance was especially active in Senegal. In 1961, under the direction of Maurice Sonara Senghor and Abu Mama Diouf formed the National Ballet Ensemble of Senegal, which showed, in addition to dance numbers, genre sketches "Scenes from the life of the people" and muses. performances. National The Senegal Ballet Ensemble toured Great Britain, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, and Switzerland. The ballet "Dianka Vali" was shown by the ensemble in Moscow in 1975. In Dakar there is also an art school with a dance department. Dance. Ensembles have also been set up in a number of other towns in Senegal. At 1964 in Dakar, another music and dance group began to work, showing the play "The Adventure of Rhythm".

In the Republic of the Ivory Coast at the Center for Culture and Folklore Nat. Institute of Arts in 1959 in Abidjan was established theater. a troupe whose repertoire consisted of dances and small skits based on folklore material. In 1960 the troupe performed at a festival at the Théâtre des Nations in Paris. On the day of the independence of Upper Volta, the first performance of dances took place in Ouagadougou. collective of the country "Daughter of Volta" (headed by Musa Savadny).

In Nigeria, in 1964, the ballet troupe Ori Olokun Dance Company was founded at the University of Ife in Ibadan, whose experimental productions caused great controversy among African cultural figures. The leader of the troupe, P. Harper, seeks to synthesize elements of Yoruba folklore, the traditional A. t. with some modern techniques. European and Amer. ballet. In 1971, at the competition of the magazine "African Arts", the experimental performance "Alatangana" was recognized as the best. In this play on a mythological plot, dances of different peoples of Nigeria were used. At the seminar "Oral tradition of the Yoruba", held at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ife, the troupe showed the play "Ogun Onire", where the language is classical. European dance combined with African elements. The production of "Purakpali" based on a story from Australian mythology has the same character.

By the time of the independence of the Congo (Brazzaville) in 1960, the Congolia ballet company was formed, demonstrating the art of the Equatorial province and other regions of the country. Later, the ensemble "Nguakatour", or "Ballet Diabua" (headed by M.I. Diabua) was created. In 1972, the National Ensemble of the People's Republic of the Congo.

In Africa and abroad, the ballet company of Sierra Leone (created in 1963, under the direction of D. Akar), the Ensemble of the Republic of Chad (headed by Ngerio Butl Sektil), and the Dance are also gaining popularity. Ensemble of the Republic of Zambia (headed by Mofiya), Nat. ballet company of the Republic of Benin (headed by E. Gay). At the Algiers Festival 1969 was awarded the Nat. the Liberian troupe (in its repertoire the ballets "Farmers", "Child of Sorrow", "Gratitude to Africa"). In 1975, the Ensemble of the Republic of Mali came to Moscow on tour. Permanent prof. opera and ballet theaters were created in Ethiopia (headed by R. Hagen, a musician from Australia). Several folk ensembles. dance exists in Sudan. In 1961, a dance department was organized at the Council of Arts in Ghana, on the basis of Legon University, the Institute for African Studies, and the National. ensemble (headed by A. Onoku).

Ways of development prof. ballet in the Republic of South Africa are difficult because of the apartheid regime and racial discrimination against the African population. Universities provide training. The University of Cape Town has a music faculty, including a ballet school (with a department for Bantu). Despite the opposition of the authorities, folklore dances are included in many. dramatic performances ("Umbata", staged at 1972; adaptation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" in Zulu. full of dances of the Bantu peoples).

First experimental post. theaters of the East. Africa "Chikkvakwa Theater" (created by M. Ezeron in 1971 in Lusaka on the basis of the Arts Department of the University of Lusaka, Zambia), a troupe of the theater department. arts at the University of Dares Salam (Tanzania) and others are saturated with folklore dances. Numerous competitions, conferences and festivals dedicated to African music. culture and ballet, popularize the activities of dance. groups in African countries. Traditional African culture and, in particular, dance have a meaning.

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