How to teach african dance

The African Root - KET Education

This collection of video excerpts explores African dance and its influences. The videos can be used as resources for lesson plans and ideas in the Dance Toolkit.

West African Dance: Description and Warm-Up

Following a performance of West African dance, Harlina Churn-Diallo introduces concepts of African dance while dancers demonstrate warm-up movements.

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West African Dance: The Connection Between Music and Movement

Harlina Churn-Diallo demonstrates and teaches four basic movements of African dance. A group of dancers practices and demonstrates the moves.

Suggested Uses:

  • Watch to build your own knowledge and understanding of African dance and influence, or for ideas on how to teach the dance movements to your students.
  • Show to students to demonstrate and guide movement activities.
  • Show to demonstrate isolation of body parts.
  • Show to accompany social studies activities relating to African culture.
  • Show with other African dance performances in the toolkit to compare and contrast.
  • Show with Afro-Cuban dance excerpts to compare and contrast.

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West African Dance: Choreography

Harlina Churn-Diallo reviews the four basic movements shown in the excerpt “The Connection Between Music and Movement” and guides dancers in combining the movements into a dance.

Suggested Uses:

  • Watch to build your own knowledge and understanding of African dance and influence, or for ideas on how to teach the dance movements to your students.
  • Show to demonstrate and guide movement activities with students.
  • Show to guide students in choreographing their own dances using the four movements.
  • Show to accompany social studies activities relating to African culture.
  • Show with other African dance performances in the toolkit to compare and contrast.
  • Show with Afro-Cuban dance excerpts to compare and contrast.

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Afro-Cuban Dance: Understanding the Clave Rhythm Pattern

This clip focuses on understanding the son clave rhythm and moving to it. The video excerpt begins with a short demonstration of call and response. Then dancers walk in a box, moving to the rhythm pattern. Katherine Kramer teaches the three-measure pattern measure by measure. Concepts include quarter notes, half notes, 4/4 time, pulse, beat, and the measure.

Suggested Uses:

  • Watch to build your own knowledge and understanding of Afro-Cuban dance and influence, or for ideas on how to teach the dance movements to your students.
  • Show to demonstrate and guide movement activities with students.
  • Show in combination with African dance excerpts to compare and contrast.

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Afro-Cuban Dance: Warming Up to the Clave Rhythm Pattern

Katherine Kramer explains why dancers warm up their bodies, then leads a warm-up done to the 3-2 rhythm of the son clave. Concepts discussed include isolation of body parts, quarter notes, half notes, and clave rhythm. Participants use different body parts (head, arms, torso, etc.) to “play” various rhythms. Kramer discusses the Spanish and African influences on dances like the flamenco, in which dancers hold the torso erect while moving the hips and feet.

Suggested Uses:

    Watch to build your own knowledge and understanding of Afro-Cuban dance and influence, or for ideas on how to teach the dance movements to your students.
    Show to demonstrate and guide warm-up or movement activities with students.
    Show in combination with African dance excerpts to compare and contrast.
    Show with the flamenco example “Farruca” on the Dance Performances video/DVD to discuss Spanish and African influences.

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Afro-Cuban Dance: Moving to the Clave Rhythm Pattern

Dancers demonstrate using the clave rhythm movements practiced in “Warming Up to the Clave Rhythm” to put together a brief dance sequence combining locomotor movement and non-locomotor shapes.

Suggested Uses:

    Watch to build your own knowledge and understanding of Afro-Cuban dance and influence, or for ideas on how to teach the dance movements to your students.
    Show to demonstrate and guide warm-up or movement activities with students.
    Show in combination with African dance excerpts to compare and contrast.

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Afro-Cuban Dance: Salsa Dancing

Instructor Katherine Kramer teaches the quick-quick-slow pattern of salsa dance and relates it to the clave rhythm pattern. After the dancers demonstrate the movement individually, they work in pairs to demonstrate the salsa movement.

Suggested Uses:

    Watch to build your own knowledge and understanding of Afro-Cuban dance and influence, or for ideas on how to teach the dance movements to your students.
    Show to demonstrate and guide movement activities with students.

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African Dance Performances

Imani Dance and Drum Company performs two African dances. The first, lambah, originated in ancient Mali. Lambah is also important musically, a jamboree for the musicians. The second dance is a plantation/ring shout performed to the Jerry Silverman song “Raise a Ruckus Tonight.” This dance represents the style of dance and music found in African slave communities on plantations in the Southern United States, the Caribbean islands, and other locations. Many people danced as a way to cope with their situation; to convey feelings about their lives and owners; and, in some cases, to convey hidden messages. Just as in Africa, the dance was for everyone, but each person entered the dance based on age and gender. Both the lambah and the plantation/ring shout performed on this video were choreographed by Harlina Churn-Diallo.

Suggested Uses:

    Show as an example of traditional African dance and African-American dance.
    Use with West African dance excerpts to discuss African dance movements and purposes.
    Compare to the performance of “Iye, Iye” on the Dance Performances video/DVD.
    Show to accompany social studies activities relating to African and African-American culture.
    Use to stimulate discussion of the influence of African dance on American social dance.

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Hand Jives

Kentucky youngsters demonstrate traditional hand-clapping rhymes. LaKetta Caldwell and Veronica Clark of Paducah clap a game learned from their mother. Ogb Ukpai and Inyang Njoku clap a game that came from Nigeria.

Suggested Uses:

    Have students do the rhymes shown or research and demonstrate other rhymes.
    Show with African dance examples to compare and discuss rhythms.
    Show to introduce the idea of documenting folklore; have students research another traditional children’s game.

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Dance Toolkit Collection

Best African Dance Tutorials On YouTube

Dance Classes Hip Shake Fitness /

Have you ever tried African dance? It’s non stop movement and non stop sweat. If you’ve wanted to try African dance, but can’t find a dance class near you… fear not, I’ve compiled the best African dance tutorials on YouTube ??Now you can try it at home and experience the fun for yourself.

When I hear that drum beat, my feet are ready to move and they keep moving until I’m drenched with sweat! African dance is jumping, waving, squats, levels, small and big movements and it’s so fun. When you take an African dance class, you allow yourself to release. You release positivity with the movements, you release tension from your body and you just become vulnerable. It’s a wonderful experience, but we’re not all lucky to have diverse dance classes close by right? Luckily, YouTube is an awesome resource for dance classes nowadays. You can take classes you’ve never tried before right at home. And I’m excited to show you African dance because I know you’ll love it! Check out these videos below and immerse yourself in African dance and let me know what your fave move is in the comments.

Let’s start slow and easy shall we? The Kennedy Center’s 5 ish minute intro to African dance is perfect for beginners just to get the groove of this dance style. Rujeko, your instructor teaches you how to use the clock in relation to African dance moves. She’s got great energy and the moves are easy to learn.

I love our Afrovibe workout with Zen. This is a 5 minute sample of level 1 and believe me, she will still make you sweat. You get to workout your arms and legs on this one because Zen focuses on squats with different levels and variations. I also love our drummer Indigo. Her beats are ??

Now we’re in more of a choreography territory. I think Sherrie’s video is a great way to start because she really breaks down these moves. My fave from this choreography is the foot shimmy. It’s so fun to do and it’s a bit challenging to balance yourself on one leg while you move to the side. Try it out.

Here’s another awesome choreography breakdown that will give you life! Isa’s moves are so smooth and she add a little bit of twerk at the end too and you know I can’t say no to twerking ? She breaks down every move in this dance and the best part is, if you didn’t get it, click the replay button and try again??

If you’re just ready to jump into a choreography then our Shake Body dance workout is perfect for you! Zen created this non-stop choreography that’s heart pumping and high energy. The sequence of moves repeat so by the end of the song, you will master these African dance moves. And of course, you’ll want to hit that replay button again and again.

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African dances in Moscow: prices, reviews and addresses

African dances - prices and reviews. Comparative table of dance schools in Moscow, where there are African folk dances Afro Dance.




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African dances or Afro Dance (Afro Dance) - the collective name of several styles that originated in the tribes of Africa. The movements that the tribal leaders and their peoples used in their rituals spread throughout the world a couple of centuries ago and remain popular to this day.

From the article on the portal you will learn about the main characteristics of the dance direction, its styles and musical accompaniment. On the same page you can find prices for Afro-dance classes offered by choreographic studios.

Features and varieties of dances of African tribes

National African dances still remain an integral part of culture for the inhabitants of the black continent. Important events, such as hunting, wrestling or childbirth, are accompanied by dancing. Each tribe uses their own unique movements in their rituals to connect with nature.

African culture and religion, which is closely associated with dancing, was brought to Latin America along with slaves. Despite the fact that the Europeans imposed their culture and religion on them, the Negroes still remained true to their traditions and gods. They prayed in the church, and secretly after work in the courtyards they performed ritual dances.

The peculiarities of the dances of African peoples include :

  • Rhythm to which the performers move. It is set by the drum and the voices of the dancers themselves.
  • The arms and legs, or the head and hips, move to completely different beats. Experts call this feature "dance polycentrism."

Another distinguishing feature of the Afrodan is "earthing". The dancers bend down, direct the body forward and down or back and down, that is, to the ground. So everyone praises the earth, thanks her food or asks for rain and fertility.

Dance directions differ not only in movements, but also in the parts of the body involved. For example, they move only the legs and hips, or the arms, neck and head.

The most common styles of Afro dance :

  • Azonto comes from the West African country of Ghana. The daily activities of the community are imitated: searching for food or kindling a hearth. Steps and inclinations are small and fast. Basically, the body, hands and head are involved in the work.
  • Coupe decale comes from Côte de Voire. At the heart of it is flirting, these are sexual movements. The dancers move their legs, pelvis and hips sharply. A group of men or women steps forward and performs fast and powerful swings and lunges.
  • Jazze/Djazze came from Negro slaves brought to America. There are steps from tap, hip-hop and break, the whole body is involved during the performance.
  • Afro house, Kuduro and Pantsula from South Africa, in particular from Angola. Work with the lower body: wide steps forward and to the sides, small stomping, maintaining balance while standing on the toes.
  • Yoruba is a sacred ritual dance of the Yoruba gods, which are represented by the forces of nature. They belong to the dances of West Africa.
  • Congolese and Haitian dances are also folk dances.

Afroplasty is singled out in choreographic schools as a collective direction of Afrodans. It allows you to improve flexibility, learn to control your body better and get used to the specifics of movements. It is studied at the first stage of classes, in order to then move on to complex choreographic elements.

Prices for learning African dances in St. Petersburg

In choreographic schools and studios, you can purchase a one-time visit or a subscription to incendiary African dance lessons. The cost of teaching Afrodans is different, for one lesson they take:

  • Maximum in the city - 1,200 rubles;
  • On average, a lesson costs 600₽;
  • Minimum - 265 rubles.

Some schools offer free entry to the first Afro Dance class. For those who want to save money, it will be more profitable to buy a subscription for 24 or more lessons during the promotion period.

Expert editor: Iya Nikolaevna Baval

Director, choreographer and teacher. She studied folklore dance and dance show in Cuba.
Teaching since 2009of the year.

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Dances of Africa: Rhythm and Origins

When you say African dance, many people probably associate with a person dancing to the sound of drums and absolutely mastering all parts of the body that skillfully emphasize the rhythm.

African dances have always had a strong connection with the land. As the African dancers themselves say, they feel the pulse of the earth and express it with their postures, gestures and steps. Thus, the criteria for assessing individual dance skills should be based more on rhythm, and not on the accuracy of the execution of movements. Basically, the rhythm for the dancers is set using percussion instruments or a combination of music and song. In some cultures, the dancers themselves sing or play musical instruments as they dance. But usually, the dances are accompanied by the playing of musicians.

Dancers are judged primarily on their ability to follow a percussive musical rhythm, their ability to "play the drums with their feet" or to maintain the rhythm with any part of the body. Any style of dance is immediately easy to identify by its characteristic rhythm. In some cultures, rhythmic patterns are expressed in characteristic leg movements, and in others in full-body contractions, quick shoulder movements, quick pelvic rotations, or acrobatic jumps.

In Africa there is a very wide variety of rhythmic patterns in dance. The main one is the continuous repetition of a simple one and the same rhythm throughout the dance. This can go on for days, as in the funeral dance of the Akbia women in South Sudan and the Bambuti dance in Central Africa.
Savannah farmers on the Yos plateau have adopted dances, during which the performers themselves simultaneously play musical instruments using simple, repetitive rhythmic beats. The men of the Ang tribe in West Africa, blowing the horns of buffaloes, can perform repetitive steps of the same type all day long. In the neighboring Chip tribe, men perform original dance marathons to the tune of four flutes.
It is also worth noting that in many styles of circle dancing, the music is divided into several different sections, each with its own rhythm and, accordingly, its own dance movements.

Initially, African dances were essentially powerful shamanic rituals that were used in literally every life situation, and also contributed to unity with the land and community. That is why rhythm is primarily important in African dances, because it just makes people feel community and unity with nature.

One of the brightest representatives of a dance that is clearly based on rhythm is the Igbo dance, which is essentially a combination of very complex rhythms. Another example is the ubi-oguzu dance, a variation of the popular atilogwu dance performed by a group of boys. At the same time, an adult person always acts as the leader of the dance, who, playing a small flute, sets the rhythm. The ubi-ogazu also uses a one-sided drum, two xylophones and a bamboo gong as musical accompaniment.

The dance has at least 10 variations, and in each of them there is a special rhythm that dictates its own pattern of movement. As in most African dances, the steps in the dance depend on the rhythm. In ikpo okme, the performers jump from one foot to the other. In ebene, a step is minted alternately with two feet. In the dance, the legs are raised high. Almost the entire dance of nkpopi consists of jumps. In etukwa, the dancers bend their torso almost parallel to the ground, while performing real staccato with their feet. And in the nzaukwu nabi dance, the performers perform precise steps with sudden pauses.

In the ubi-ogazu dance (the "guinea fowl dance", which was created by the hunters of this bird), the performers imitate the sharp movements and sudden fading of this bird. At the same time, they are dressed in short skirts, as well as belts and anklets with brass bells, the ringing of which emphasizes their movements. It should be noted that the dance progresses and does not stand still, it develops steadily and new movements are introduced into it.

The elders only allow performers to participate in the Igbo dance after they have been practicing for several months. In doing so, Yoruba dancers can innovate within the dance style during their performances. The Yoruba dance called apala allows the performers to move freely while performing and encourages improvisation and innovation.

African tribal dances

Scholars studying the emergence of new dance styles in Africa have identified three interrelated forms:

traditional dance,



The last two categories are becoming more common as a result of the great social changes since World War II.

Changes in traditional dance styles in rural areas tend to take place gradually, under the creative guidance of master dancers. But major social changes in society, such as the introduction of formal primary education, radically change the way of life, including the attitude of children to dance. Children began to have less free time to learn the dances that they had previously inherited. Modern transportation and communication brought people of different cultures together, resulting in cross-cultural influences on dance.

The proliferation of radios and, more recently, other forms of broadcast and digital media in African villages has encouraged young people to turn to new styles of dance that are mainly focused on entertainment. Therefore, in Africa there is now a situation where a true African dancer dies, often there is simply no one to replace him. But changing lifestyles encourages creative people to create new expressive dance styles.

Examples of this change can be seen in the Dogon masquerade dancers in Mali, who use a variety of carved wooden masks while dancing, some of which are over 6 meters high. Usually, these masks are made of lightweight materials so that they do not interfere with the vigorous dances of the performers. At the same time, the wearers of these masks bowed to the ground during the performance of funeral rites in honor of the dead. According to one theory, the geographical isolation of the Dogon tribe led to the fact that their society was protected from the influence of external cultures, unlike other peoples living nearby.

But since then, other tribes, influenced by neighboring cultures, have turned mask dances mainly into a commercial product that is not intended for original ritual purposes, but for tourists. Also, the youths of the Dogon tribes often studied in cities and returned to their native tribe, bringing urban tastes and habits, and thereby changing the social pattern of folk dances. And in a number of northern tribes, historical dance traditions were strongly affected by the spread of Islam.

In the 1930s, the Mali Travel Agency created a new job for dancers, the entertainer. It eventually became a regular practice in the country where dancers were hired to entertain tourists visiting African villages. The dancers were required to have a different character of movements so that the tourists would not get bored. In such dances, impressive movements and spectacular moments were emphasized, but they completely lost the social purpose that made them real art.

Originally ritual masks are now often decorated with commercial advertisements, and dancers advertise something at all. African dance continues to undergo drastic changes as dancers commute to work in urban centers where Western forms of entertainment, as well as radio, film and television, have already become mainstream.

The main impetus for change has been national arts festivals organized by government ministries to promote traditional arts as a means of strengthening national unity. Special representatives of cultural institutions visit the villages and hold competitions to select the best dancers, among whom they arrange a competition. The winners are then brought to cities to host a nationwide competition of dancers from different cultures. Initially, the dancers just wanted to show their art, but recently financial motivation plays an increasingly important role, so dancers pay less and less attention to the social component of dance.

Also, ritual dances are usually absent from national festivals, as they do not attract the attention of the audience. The performance of the priest, for whom dance movements are part of the ritual, will be of little interest to anyone.

Thus, in some cultures, folk dances remained, perhaps in remote villages, and most Africans adapted to new trends. Although, it is worth noting that in a number of cultures there is still a conservative attitude towards changes, especially in those whose lifestyle is based on a hierarchy, both social and ritual.

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