Abstract black churches. Very early in her research,

                                                                Abstract

 

What is African Dance? It is not mere dancing
and regular music, and vendors and food. No, it is the dance of different
countries related to the African culture and the story of Africa itself.
African dance is a movement of our emotion, it is not a separate art, but a
part of the whole complex of living. Everything in Africa makes up the African
dance, from the dressing to purpose, techniques, music and even the languages.
Traditional African dance is controlled by it the music which is governed by
the language, so in order words, if there is no African language, African music
will not exit, then African dance will not exist. Viewers of African dance
needs to understand Africa’s cultural heritage in other to appreciate the true
meaning of what is been seen.

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African dance is a book edited by Welsh Asante in memory of Pearl
Primus. Pearl primus was a Trinidadian born in 1919. She majored in biology in
Hunter college and later received a scholarship for social research in a new
school. She began a study in “primitive dances”. Primus was inspired by her
experience when she visited south Africa to observe the lifestyles of different
people and visiting black churches. Very early in her research, she discovered
that people who truly dance are those that never traded the ferocious freedom
of their souls, People who have never strangled their desire to dance, nor
derail their joyous physical response to music and song. When this being
dances, they are in their own little world where eternity exist. Along with Sir
Rex Nettleford and pearl Primus, they are other contributors to this book like,
Mawere Opoku, Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, Myriam Evelyse Mariani, Cynthia
S’thembile West and Omofolabo Soyinka Ajayi. Myriam Evelyse Mariani wrote about
African influence in Brazilian dances.

In the second half of this book, Katrina
Hazzard Gordon enlightened the reader on Sociocultural disruption, continuity,
and synthesis. The primary purpose of this paper is to contribute in the
direction of literature focusing on the structural and functional aspect of the
dance by looking at the transformation process from African ceremonial to
African American secular social dance and a brief examination of the specific
contexts in which that transformation occurred.  As though as live under slavery was, it still
encouraged a chance of society and cultural development. The environment of
bondage the slaves were in did not prevent them from creating their own culture,
it helped them preserve some aspect of their African culture. And it also did
not prevent an African based cultural tradition in dance.

The type of labor the African slaves were
engaged in resulted in some cultural difference among them. As the slaves work
on the plantation, some worked in groups or gang while some worked
individually, and this affected the model of culture that emerged. Although some
of the slaves worked as house servant and many more, which mean they had a
different model of culture emerging among them. As they struggled to keep their
culture alive, the white made it less easy for them by taking away their drums creating
an environment in which African American found it difficult to retain African
cultural practice. Both sacred and secular dancing among bondsmen originated in
an African worship system which include a wide range of praise methods and bembe “party for the gods”. This
religious ceremony included eating, drinking and dancing happily (festive
mood), but the story was different among the bondsmen in north America.
Elements of the orisha part were retained in the form of “the shout”. According
to Frederick Law Olmsted, there was a large plantation in his vicinity with a
small chapel were the negroes worshipped. The owner told him that he had
furnish the chapel but the negros urged him to remove it because it gave them no
room to freely express themselves by leaping, dancing, crying out loud and even
clapping their hands in excitement as they worshipped.

An Example of adaptation of a tradition in the
west African Culture to a new Sociocultural environment occurred when one
commentator had been to a “shout” which seems to him certainly as an idol
worship. The negroes sing a kind of chorus, three standing part to lead and clap,
and then all others go shuffling in circle following one another with much
regularity, turning around occasionally and bending their knees, and stamping
so that the whole floor would swing. This can be associated to the Yoruba (a
tribe in Nigeria) where music is performed by a liturgical trio of sacred bata
drums, okonkolo, itotele and iya. And the three standing apart to lead and clap
appear to be an example of adaptation of tradition.

Cynthia S’thembile West wrote about Dianne
Mcintyre, a twentieth century African-American Griot who mad a comparison of
modern dance to the form and Structure of African music. Dianne was born in
Cleveland, Ohio, July 18,1946 she came to New York in 1970, after graduating
from Ohio state university and teaching for a year in Wisconsin. Dianne
Mcintyre always picked a dance theme that often deal with African history and
whatever they feel from the inside in their daily lives. She also says that
dance is moving music, the drum is talking to the dancer and the dancer is talking
back to the drum in the body. These African characteristics like call and
response, a torso inclined slightly forward with bent knees, flat footed
shuffles and some others give Mcintyre dance dynamic vitality so that the
stories inspire and comment on life.

 Cheryl
willis wrote about the long line of history of tap dance that stretches beyond
the movie image, Fred Astaire, because many Americans quickly recall the name
when tap dance is mentioned. The research she conducted for this study included
the works of Richard Farris Thompson, Kariamu Welsh-Asante, Zora Neale Hurston,
Marshal and Jean Stearns, Ashenafi Kebede, Alain Locke, John F. Szwed and Roger
Abrahams. The primary sources of films and interviews with tap dancer were also
used. Szwed and Abraham referred to the divesting of the African Society as
“desocietalization” and not a deculturation because in the united states,
practice associated with political, economic and social units from African
Society were discouraged, but the philosophical principle and the psychological
attitudes persisted even if the structure of African society was denied. To
express tap dance as an expression of the deep structure passed from Africa we
will have to consider it major characteristics and compare it to African
Aesthetics which are Attitudes, musicality and styles.

Omofolabo Soyinka
Ajayi talks about the
dynamic of African religious Dances, like how Every culture has it means of
reaching the divine, which have been found compatible with the society. Because
of different strongly held views, people often engender intolerance of other
religious view and practice because of prejudice. Omofolabo Soyinka Ajayi Professor
Ajayi Soyinka has joint appointments in Theatre Department and Women, Gender
and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) departments. She was born in 31st
October 1950. Her teaching, research publications and creative works encompass
theatre, performance, literary and gender studies. She was honored with a
Glidden Visiting Professorship at the University of Ohio, Athens.  She describes how dance is a way of expressing
your worship system when communicating with the sacred in Africa Religion and
how no religious worship was regarded complete without one dance performance by
the worshippers. Although contest between Christianity and Islam for supremacy
over Africa indigenous religion nearly wiped dance out as a means of
communicating with the sacred, but it still holds true today wherever ancient
religious manage to gather. In summary dancing as worship in African is a means
of calling the presence of the sacred into their midst, getting themselves
(devotees) in the right worship mood and praising their sacred for his mercies.
This type of dance is called invocational Dance. Dancing also has vital roles
in Africa religious worship from the past till date due to the cultural Concept
of the Sacred, Intrinsic qualities of dance and the peoples attitude towards
the body.

During reviewing this book, I have learnt so
many things about dance. For example, the reasons we dance, like the Ceremonial
reasons, entertainment, sacred dances like ritual and cults, Recreational and
so much more. Another knowledge gained from this reading was how Christianity
forced some African to deny their heritage. For the enslaved African,
Christianity meant that they would have to be treated with some remnant of
humanity and this forced the Africans to deny their background such as polygamy,
ancestor worship and Dancing. Another lesson learnt was the Adaptation of a new
sociocultural environment which occurred during the “shout” and how the slaves
battled to keep their culture alive even if the white did not make it any easy
for them.