Different Types of African Dances

African dance mainly refers to the dance forms of ‘Sub Saharan Africa’ and it is performed mainly by different indigenous tribes. Each dance type is distinctly different from the other because of cultural differences in melodic and movement styles. Most of the African dance forms exhibit the social pattern prevalent among local tribes. These dance forms depict the life span forms of the community more than that of individuals or couples. Just about all African dances are accompanied by constant rhythmic music that typically includes the constant beating of different types of drums, vocals and stomping of the feet. Some of the most popular African dance types include “dances of love”, “warrior dance”, “coming of age dances”, “dances of possession and summoning”, “dances of welcome”, etc. If you’re fascinated by these out of the ordinary dance forms of Africa, steer with the next segment to learn more about the different African dance types.

Types of African Dance

It is undoubtedly true, there exists a wide variety of dance styles owing to the different tribes residing in Africa. However, a majority of them are based on similar principles.

Dance of Love

The name says everything, the dance is a depiction of love and it is performed on occasions celebrating unison and love. Being celebratory in nature, the performances are reserved for weddings, anniversaries and tribal rituals. In Ghana, women carry out the Nmane to honor the bride at the time of the wedding.

Warrior Dances

The dancing style is credited to have originated from the Foh and Ewe people, and is also widely known as Atamga. Warrior dances really are a depiction of the men who fought within the battle, which is why the dance involves warfare movements. It is supposedly an aggressive style of dancing and is characterized by a complex drum rhythm. The dancers stage mock fights using horsetail as spears to stab the opponent. It’s performed specifically at cultural events and also at funerals. The Agbekor dance style is an example of this dance type.

Dance of Welcome

Welcome dances are carried out to greet and pay due respects to some visitor. It is also one of the methods to showcase the talent and potential of the tribe towards the visitor. The Yabara performed in West Africa is definitely an example of this dance type. It calls for throwing the shekere to different heights in mid-air and it is mostly performed by women.

Rite of Passage

‘Coming of age’ is regarded as one of the most important ritual among the African tribes. This type of dance is performed being an act of initiation into adulthood. This dance is conducted specifically by the young dancers who practice in seclusion for months prior to them getting to perform in front of the community. This dance is really a means to boost the confidence of the teenagers and women and also a means to welcome them in to the new phase of life.

The Maasai people carry out the Adumu dance to celebrate the coming of age of warriors. The dancers need to jump without allowing their heels to the touch ground. Tokoe, on the other hand, is a dance done by selected young women in Ghana. Girls chosen for the dance have to satisfy the required qualification measures, namely remaining a virgin at that time of entering puberty.


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