How many types of african dances are there

A List of Some Traditional Dances From Different African Countries — Bino and Fino

Cultural dances play a huge role in African societies. These dance forms are used to teach moral values, social etiquette and to help people mature and celebrate members of the community while celebrating festivals and other occasions.

African dances are largely participatory and every ritual dance often have a time when spectators must participate. 

Here are a couple of examples of some amazing traditional dances from different countries in Africa.

Indlamu  (South Africa) 

A dance that is mostly associated with Zulu culture. It is derived from the Zulu warrior class of ancient times. It is carried out by men in full regalia; traditional head pieces, ceremonial belts, shields and spears. 

Exciting traditional female and male Zulu Dancing. Filmed by Tekweni TV Productions, a television production company based in Durban South Africa. 0027 31 2611034.


A very popular f©orm of dance that started from the highlife scene in the capital city of Accra but is now enjoyed throughout the country. 

Moribayasa (Guinea)

From the Malinke people in Guinea, this dance is done by women who have overcome  great adversity. The woman starts the dance wearing 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. The woman then changes her clothes and buries her old clothes in a special area. 

Eskista (Ethiopia)

Eskista is a traditional Ethiopian dance performed by both men and women. The dance focuses on rolling the shoulder blades, bouncing the shoulders, and contracting the chest. It is one of the most complex traditional dance forms in Ethiopia  due to its technical nature. 

Azezo - young girls dancing 'Eskista' at center of Azezo (infront of taxi staging area)

Atilogwu ( Nigeria) 

Also known as the 'Acrobatic Dance' of Eastern Nigeria. The leaps, turns, jumps and intricate footwork of the dancers is certainly a sight to behold. The dance is usually performed at key events & ceremonies.

opular dance troupe from eastern nigeria

Aduma (Kenya)

This is one of the most famous traditional dances of the Massa performed during Eunoto, the coming of age ceremony of warriors. It is also know as the '"jumping dance"  with each of the young warriors trying to jump higher then the previous one.  Members of the group may raise the pitch of their voices based on how high one jumps. 

This is the Maasai warrior doing the jump around dance. This dance is how they find a mate, the highest jumper gets the gals.

Pat Pat (Senegal)

The Pat Pat dance is the traditional dance practiced by the Jola people of Senegal. It involves rhythmically patting the body and fast leg movements.

This video shows traditional Jola body patting and dances by girls from Mlomp, Casamance region, Southern Senegal. It was recorded at The Akonting Center for Senegambian folkmusic, Mandinari, Gambia July 2006

San Dancing (Botswana)

The San tribe of Botswana are one of the oldest tribes in Africa. The San style of dancing is one that involves fast movement, singing and complexities of rhythms that can be found in many of the dances of the Africa diaspora.

Uploaded by TheCheetahWatch on 2013-06-11.

Ewegh ( Niger)

The Ewegh dance is a dance form performed by the nomadic Tuareg tribe of North Africa. The Ewegh is strong dance performed by men in groups during festivals and ceremonial events.

The Ghadames Cultural Festival is held in Libya in October each year. On the last afternoon everyone went to the dunes to watch the sunset. The Tuareg put on a dancing display. (Sorry it finishes abruptly - my camera is limited to 3 minutes.)

African CultureAdamu WaziriAfrican tradtional dances, African dance


Top 10 African Dance Styles of 2018

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Africa is known for its rich diversity in music and dance. 2018 was no different as the continent witnessed some of the best dance styles ever created. From North to South, East to West, there is no doubt these dance styles that were trending throughout the entire year will continue to captivate participants and audiences in the years to come. It is amazing to see how creativity has been perfectly infused with African culture and trends to create amazing dances that will tempt you to join the dance floor. It is expected these dance sensations will continue to remain popular in 2019 as the continent awaits new dances.

Let’s take a look at the African dance styles that set the trends in 2018.

Shaku Shaku Dance – Nigeria

Shaku Shaku is a Nigerian sensation street dance style that took not only the African continent but the entire world by storm. Ever since Shaku Shaku hit, people just can’t seem to get over it. Shaku Shaku has continuously gained popularity and shows no signs of letting up. The dance steps come in various varieties and are likened to those of a drunk person. They typically involve entire body movement including the arms and legs. The dance is a freestyle and traces its origins from the streets. Shaku Shaku is today referred to as Nigeria’s Gangnam Style.

Odi Dance – Kenya

Odi dance is a Kenyan dance sensation that is commonly associated with the youth. Started by a gospel professional dancer and artist, Timeless Noel, Hype Ochi and Jabiddi, gospel dancehall artist, Odi dance was started to attract more youth to the gospel of Christ. ‘Odi’ is a slang word for ordinary. The target of the dance were ghetto (slum and low income neighborhood) youths based on the group’s belief that despite Jesus being an extraordinary person, he came into the world as an ordinary person and mingled with everyone despite of their social status. The dance has become not only a national sensation but popular across the entire African continent.

Gwara Gwara Dance – South Africa

In 2018, Gwara Gwara dance, a South African viral dance went international. Started by DJ Bongz, the dance entails lifting and swinging one leg while getting the entire body involved including the arms in synch with the leg movement. The peak of the Gwara Gwara was when it was performed in the 2018 Grammy Awards Ceremony. Some of the international artists who’ve performed and danced Gwara Gwara include Rihanna.

Rosalina Dance – Democratic Republic of Congo

The list of 2018 top African dances cannot be complete without the famous Rosalina dance that originated from BM’s song Rosalina. Originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rosalina which means “Break Your Back” became an instant hit in 2018 with fans across the continent taking part in numerous dance challenges. This a high adrenaline dance with electrifying moves thanks to the impressive Congolese beat that sets the pace for the rhythm. The dance involves systematic movement of the legs, arms, waist and the entire body.

Pilolo Dance – Ghana

Pilolo is famous Ghanaian dance step that was a big hit across the continent and globally in 2018. The creator of Pilolo, Zigi is also known for previously releasing Kupe, a famous dance challenge that took everyone by storm. From the streets of Ghana, Pilolo became a hit in New York City with Janet Jackson performing both Kupe and Pilolo at the end of her performance “Made for Now” on “The Tonight Show” starring Jimmy Fallon. The name Pilolo was borrowed from a hide and seek game popular among Ghanaian kids. Zigi in an interview explained he came up with the steps in the evening while making preparations to shoot a dance video.

Malwedhe/Idibala Dance – South Africa

Malwedhe is no doubt South Africa’s biggest dance in 2018 that rapidly spread its wings to an international audience. The dance is a product of King Monada’s hit song “Malwedhe” that means illness in Sepedi language. In this dance, fans fall to the ground when the chorus “ke na le bolwedhe bao idibala” (I have an illness of fainting) is sang. Videos of the dance craze have emerged from far abroad countries such as China. The simulating collapse or fainting is loved by everyone but non-profit organizations dealing with epilepsy have complained the dance mocks epileptic individuals. Others have raised concerns about the possibility of getting injured when one falls to the ground. The Malwedhe/Idibala challenge took the continent by storm.

Black Panther/Wakanda – Africa/Diaspora

After the release of Black Panther movie that was a worldwide hit, fans began a dance that rapidly sent shockwaves throughout Africa. The dance is a testament to how fans were really excited with Black Panther. There is no doubt, Wakanda dance was a force to reckon with in 2018. Interestingly, Africans living in the diaspora as well as non-Africans were all on board having fun.

Vosho Dance – South Africa

Vosho is a famous South African dance that involves kicking and squatting at the same time. In recent times, Vosho has turned its focus on the head that has replaced the kicking and squatting. Instead, you only need to dance and lean your head forward in line with the rhythm of the dance tunes. In a short while, there were numerous videos of this dance posted online.

Kwangwaru Dance – Tanzania

Kwangwaru dance style from Tanzania originates from Kwangwaru, a famous East African hit by Tanzanian artists Harmonize and Diamond Platnumz. Upon releasing the song in 2018, the Kwangwaru dance immediately picked up momentum with fans across the continent uploading their Kwangwaru dance challenges on social media. There is no doubt, as big as the Kwangwaru hit is, this dance move is expected to remain a craze in the coming days.

Kpakujemu – Nigeria

Kpakujemu from Nigeria features among the top African dances of 2018. The dance originates from Kpakujemu, a track by Olamide, Terry, Bhary, Jay and Lyta. The highly electrifying dance moves are associated with this dance craze whose roots have spread far and wide. It is expected Kpakujemu dance challenges will continue in 2019.

Bonus:  Kupe Dance

The KupeChallenge is named after the song featured in the original video; Kupe Dance by Ghana’s A-Star who is also responsible for the Chocobodi dance challenge. The Kupe dance was not just about the dance, but also about good looks, style and swag.

2019 is expected to be another great year with everyone waiting for creative, fun and exciting dance moves that will unite fans across Africa.

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secret of the Black Continent Online publication "Elements of dance"

No discrimination for you in terms of height and complexion. No solo performances or in pairs, gently clinging to each other - the whole community is dancing from the elderly to the children who have just learned to walk. One or two people can be in the middle of the circle (in the center of their community), but touching each other is not customary. Those in the center, as it were, “ignite” those around them, set the tone for the dance, but there is no clear boundary between the audience and the dancers. All who are in the role of spectators, whether they are standing or sitting on their knees, move to the beat and can join the circle at any time. There are no prohibitions and restrictions, even if it is a ritual dance dedicated to some important event.

But there is a gender division: there are strictly male dances, and there are those that are performed exclusively by women. Interestingly, children always emphasize in the dance: I am a man, or I am a woman. It is important for boys to show their masculinity and strength, girls in some tribes and urban communities learn their dances from childhood. Not a single African nation has special children's game dances. Children participate in all adult dances, absorbing their style, movements and energy. The dance rhythm is literally absorbed with mother's milk: you can often see a young woman dancing, with a baby tied to her back with a cloth.

Men's dances often feature weapons - spears, sticks, sometimes there are elements of boxing. In Rwanda and Burundi, a dance called Boudera is performed by men standing in a circle, with cow tails in the hands of the leader “during the performance”.

In dancing, men often jump, imitating the movements of animals and the behavior of an attacking hunter. The Masai only jump with a straight body and a spear in their hand - such is their dance. But it is easy to determine: the one who jumps higher dances better. They show their strength and endurance by jumping into the air one by one while the rest of the warriors stand in a circle and sing. By the way, the Masai people are the only people in Africa who do not use drums. Instead, the women wear bells and rattles that create sounds that the Masai believe are sufficient for dancing and singing.

Women use a huge number of movements in dances, most of which are performed on half-bent legs with a slightly inclined torso, there are no high jumps, steps are akin to shuffling. The overwhelming theme, reinforced by the appropriate accessories, is purely feminine. Shaking the lower body, twisting is the phenomenal art of African women.

It must be said here that African dances are polycentric and polyrhythmic, which distinguishes them from all other dances in the world. This means that the dancer's body is not a complete unit, but is divided into several segmented areas that are able to respond to different rhythms in the music. Difficult? Highly! Segments of the human body seem to exist independently of each other, but, at the same time, create connected movements that are precise, complex and difficult to master. The head, chest, hips, shoulders, limbs simultaneously make different movements. The dancer's body, even without moving in space, can reproduce many complex movements with its separate parts. Often these movements are accompanied by frequent rhythmic forward and backward bends, which together create a unique dance in one place.

African dance traditionally plays an important role in the culture of tribes, being not just entertainment, it is the transfer of traditions, rituals, legends and knowledge to new generations

Types of African dances

There are many of them and they are all “thematic”.

Warrior dances

African warrior dances have their own names in different regions, but they are performed very similarly. This is usually an aggressive style that includes martial movements. It is characterized by a complex drum rhythm. Often the dancers use the horsetail like a spear to hit the opponent.

The most famous of the warrior dances is Agbekor. Previously, in ancient times, it was called Atamga - "high oath" and to this day has not undergone significant changes. It was widespread in Benin in the 15th century during the invasion of the Portuguese, and today it is a traditional dance in West Africa among the Ewe (Watchi) people inhabiting Benin and Ghana. The dance, for the most part, is an imitation of "tactical" military movements.

Another famous African warrior dance, which became the progenitor of capoeira, popular all over the world, is Ngolo (“zebra dance”). He leads his history from Angola and Mozambique. Initially, it arose as a duel over . .. a woman. The men of the two tribes Cambindas and Mazingas met in a dance-combat duel, the winner of which received as a prize, without ransom, a girl they liked. From Africa, the Ngolo dance, along with the slaves, moved to Brazil, where it became the basis for capoeira.

Rite of passage

The "Coming of Age" dance is considered one of the most important ritual performances among African tribes. This dance is performed as an act of initiation into adulthood. The young dancers practice in seclusion for several months before they perform in public. The event is a kind of greeting of a new stage in the life of young men and women, and is also designed to increase trust between them.

The Masai perform the Adumu dance to celebrate the coming of age of warriors. The dancers must jump without letting their heels touch the ground.

In some tribes, the dance of initiation is only allowed to be performed by girls who have remained virgins at the time of adulthood.

The rites of initiation have survived among most of the peoples of Africa and remain very popular. On the one hand, the community recognizes the fact that young people are growing up, on the other hand, this event is a matter of pride for young people.

Hunter dances

Since the majority of African dances are a reflection of everyday life, hunting is their traditional theme. To this day, hunting in many regions of the continent remains the main form of life, and the dance movements are appropriate here. The dancers use bird feathers, animal masks, monkey and leopard skins, depicting breathtaking moments of human pursuit and attack, as well as the behavior of animals during the hunt. In Benin, the dance of the hunters is called lingun, in Chad it is called mdomnag, in South Africa it is called ndlamu.

African dances of love

No wedding is complete without them. In Ghana, a similar Nmane dance is performed by women in honor of the bride on her wedding day.

There are a lot of love dances, all of them have a festive character and are performed not only at weddings, but also at anniversaries, and during tribal ceremonies.

Harvest dances

The most important African ritual dances, if not to say that since ancient times they are the most important. They are exclusively ritual in nature and serve as an appeal to the deities with a request to grant plenty of water and a good harvest.

Greetings in honor of a dear guest

A common occurrence among Africans. Masai, as usual, jump, taking turns coming out to meet you, emphasizing respect in every possible way. Other tribes will demonstrate their potential, they will try to eloquently tell in the dance how wonderful, talented and hospitable hosts they are)).

Dances that summon spirits

Ritual. They are used to call the spirits of the world, namely the ancestors, the spirits of trees, forests, and even one or another deity. Such dances are used when you need to ask for something "higher leadership" or to appease, when things are not going well with the tribe, which means that the spirit is angry. In times of war and drought, addressing the deities through dance is very common.

Spirit dances are especially common in West and Central Africa. In particular, the most important orisha spirits, which are the "representatives" of the single creator god Olodumare, "regulate" almost the entire life of a person. The orisha cult is widespread not only in Africa, but also in Brazil and Cuba.

Spirits are summoned by dance. Such, for example, is Kakilambe, which is performed with the aim of "talking" with a powerful forest orisha. The spirit invariably appears in the form of a dancing statue made of straw, rags and wood, and, of course, in a mask.

Masks are one of the features of traditional African culture. Mask dancing is an integral part of traditional ceremonies, including weddings, funerals, and initiation ceremonies. It is believed that the mask makes you break your human essence and take on the form of the spirit that is depicted on it. The masked dancer thus becomes a means of communication between members of the community and the spirit world.

In fairness, it must be said that in Africa spirits are not only called up by dancing, but also driven out ....

African healing dances they can bring a person out of severe depression associated, say, with the loss of loved ones, they really treat epilepsy and work other miracles. But, it is obvious that their real impact only works for a person within the framework of their native culture.

A paradox: while the influence of African dances on modern dance styles around the world is simply enormous, they are little studied. It is no coincidence that today there is a stormy interest in this culture. Well, of course, they are very beautiful, exciting and attractive with their wild energy.

African dances: what are they? | The world around us

The only division that can exist is gender: there are dances that are danced by women, there are strictly masculine ones. Men often use purely "male objects" - sticks, weapons, in the dance there are elements of boxing (meringue). In Burundi and Rwanda there is a Bouder dance, which is performed by men in a circle, while the leader has cow tails in his hands.

Children necessarily emphasize their gender role: I am a man or I am a woman. No special children's game dances, everyone here is an adult. Let the future, but now everything is "not childish." Girls in some communities are specially trained in their dances, it is important for boys to show their endurance and courage.

Men jump a lot. These are imitative movements of animals, and a certain dance pattern. Masai generally only jump and nothing else. But you can immediately see - who jumps higher, that means he dances better. By the way, almost the only people in Africa who do not use drums.

Women have a huge number of movements, most of them on half-bent legs (but not the same as demi plie in ballet), the body is slightly inclined. Twisting, shaking the lower body is a special female art. The overwhelming theme is purely feminine (with a stupa, for example), but there are also dances with knives.

In African dances the body speaks and articulates. And he articulates in a complex, polyrhythmic way. Limbs, shoulders, head, chest, hips can perform different movements at the same time. Even without moving in space, the body of the dancer can perform many complex movements in separate parts. And if we add here frequent rhythmic oscillations back and forth, then we get a whole complex-dance in one place.

There are many variations of African dances. All of them are divided into "sections" according to their subject.

Warrior dances . They are called differently (for example, Mokorotlo in Lesotho), but they dance quite similarly, which is not surprising. The most famous dance is Agbekor (in ancient times it was called Atamga - "high oath"). Traditionally danced in West Africa, popular with the Ewe people (Ghana, Benin). In this dance, the imitative part of the military "tactical" movements is high.

Another famous dance - Ngolo - "dance of zebras" (Angola, Mozambique). Initially, as a duel between the Mazingas and Cambindas tribes, where the winner received the girl he liked as a prize without a ransom. And the wrestling dance Ngolo, "moving" with the slaves to Brazil, became the basis of the world-famous Capoeira wrestling dance.

Hunter dances. African dances are often reminiscent of the main form of human activity - hunting: both the movements themselves and animal masks. Here and Mdomnag (Chad), Lingun (Benin), Ndlamu (South Africa). Dancers in animal skins (leopard, monkey), in bird feathers depict the most exciting moments of the hunt. And from the side of the animals too ...

Harvest dance. The ritual character of African dances has been the most important since ancient times. An appeal to the gods, a request for a good harvest and plenty of water, which is important, since we are talking about the dances of those countries that are not far from the Sahara (beyond the Sahara). The theme of fertility is the oldest and most important for mankind.

Dances of love . They are performed on certain occasions: for example, by women at a wedding in honor of the bride.

Ritual dances of initiation. Recognition of adulthood by the community and pride by youth is the main point of this action. Surprisingly, these dances have been preserved in most countries.

Greeting dance in honor of a dear guest. Emphasizes respect for the guest and the pleasure of his presence. The dance tells about how wonderfully talented and beautiful the owners themselves are too.

Dancing - evocation of spirits - traditional in many parts of Central and West Africa. Spirits - orisha - are the emanations of the single god, the creator god Olodumare. These are very serious and important spirits that "regulate" almost all human life. The cult of the orisha is widespread, including in Cuba and Brazil. Kakilambe is a dance named after a powerful forest orisha. The spirit is called to dance, and it appears in the form of a large dancing statue (straw-wooden-rag) and in a mask.

In addition to invoking spirits, dancing can also drive out spirits (such is Mganda, mapiko in Mozambique).

A special place is occupied by Healing Dances (or Healing or Healing Dances). According to the description of eyewitnesses, these dances could not only bring a person out of a difficult psychological state associated, say, with the death of a loved one, but also really treat, for example, epilepsy. There is, of course, little scientific evidence here. In any case, what is good within the same culture and beliefs is not accidental and can work there. But it is unlikely to work for a person of a different culture.

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