African Dance has been gaining popularity for a few years in America. The term obviously encompasses all forms of African Dance, but most styles practiced popularly come from sub-Saharan Africa. Practiced in the classroom by varying cultures, African dance is historically focused within communities.
In Africa, dances are done for a variety of reasons including healing, celebrating festivals and funerals, passing on history and attempting to communicate with the gods.
The use of the voice is an important part of the dance, almost as much as the heartbeat of the community: the drums.
From a very young age, African children are taught to respond to basic drumbeats. This way, reacting to (and interacting with) rhythms comes as second nature.
The structure of the dance often mimics and reinforces the structure of society, with separations by gender, age and class. Generally, men use larger jumping and flailing movements while women shuffle their feet and bend the knees to create movement. In most communities dancers take turns moving through the center of a circle made up of the entire village.
Due to the emotionally driven call-and response nature of the dance there is little to no choreography. People simply dance what they feel – letting the beat of the drum and the sound of their own voice guide their movements.
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