African Ritual Dance Style | Free Essay Example

African Ritual Dance Style

Words: 1107
Topic: Art & Design


Culture is one of the main distinctive features which helps consider the differences in countries. Each country has its own culture, and it is essential to consider the peculiarities of this culture to understand people and the trends in art. Cultural significance of people is depicted in the trends in art. Thus, to understand the inner world of African people, it is essential to consider their style of dancing. African culture is significant.

It does not look like any other culture. Therefore, the styles of dancing in Africa are particular as well. Considering the main peculiarity of African ritual dancing as the dancing styles, the culture of the place is going to be considered and referred to the dance style under consideration. African ritual dancing is closely connected to the0cultural of the continent, no matter which country is taken into account.

Significance and the History of the Dance Style

Dwelling upon the significance and the history of the dance style in Africa, it is essential to refer to the cultural peculiarities of the place as these notions are closely interconnected. Many people separate dance and music. However, it is impossible to do it with African dancing.

Separating music and dance and trying to consider these notions separately one remains in danger to misunderstand this magnificence mystery of African culture (Green 19). The history of dance goes back in ancient times. Even though times passes, the main idea of the African ritual dances has not changed. It is essential to consider dancing as a way of communication with Gods.

Africa and Nigeria, in particular, is the place where people worship to many Gods; this is the place where people refer natural disasters to God’s dissatisfaction and the appropriate natural conditions to the pleasure Gods experience. Being sure that dancing is one of the ways of pleasing Gods, African people emerged dancing with this specific purpose (Welsh 116).

Dwelling upon African dance, it should be mentioned that it combines different various techniques and styles. African dance is distinguished as a specific dancing technique because its history is rooted in ancient times when people performed dancing for pleasing Gods. Nowadays, traditional African dancing has remained the same unexpected and ritual.

All of the gestures remind worship. It is significant to connected dancing, music, and culture into one specific connection. The development of dancing in Africa is based on emotions; people tried to express their thinking through dance. The tradition of dancing in Africa goes far away in time; this place has a great history. Religion played an important role in the life of African people, and this religious attention to dancing left imprints.

From year to year, the development of African music has been connected with rhythms and movement. One of the scholars has described African dancing as follows: philosophically, as ritual, health, African dancing is magnificent; the movements are structured and developed.  Asante writes that “a dance that is performed only once is cold, impotent, unable to elicit praise or criticism because of the incompetence of the dance.

Repetition is a constant in African dance” (Asante 150). Looking at the modern performance of the traditional African dance it is possible to notice the rhythmic, constantly repeated movements which remind the ancient worship elements. This is exactly the traditional African dance which highlights the most important aspects of African culture.

Cultural Significance

Dwelling upon cultural significance in African dancing sphere, it should be mentioned that dancing plays an essential part in the life of African people. To understand the dancing culture of African people, it is important to consider the place of religion in Africa and their relation to aesthetics. The main idea of aesthetics is the relation to beauty performed in any form.

However, it should be mentioned that Asante, Molefi, and Mazama are sure that aesthetical consideration of the cultural issues may not be considered as equal for various nations. African culture has a significant relation to aesthetical notions. African art (including culture, dance, and religion) has greater devotion to the spiritual peculiarity of a human being rather than to the physical condition.

Dwelling upon African and the connection between its culture and aesthetics it should be stated that “African art is often spiritually based, even when such art serves a cultural function rather than having been created for or used in a specific religious ceremony” (Asante, Molefi, and Mazama 7). Much attention is paid to ceremonies in Africa.

Considering African dance as one of the most important aspects of cultural and religious life in Africa, the music festivals held in this part of the world should be considered. Music festivals are held annually in Africa. “Festivals used to celebrate agricultural products,” a festival celebrated “in memory of some powerful and historical figures in a particular community,” and historical festivals (Adegbite 134) are the main specific festivals held in Africa.

Depending on the country, the format of the music festivals may vary, however, the main idea of these festivals is the same – to consider the modern achievements of world music and to present the African cultural destinations. The importance of the African dancing style during these festivals is significant. African motives are spread globally and, therefore, African tradition impacts the cultures of different countries.

African dancing heritage and African culture are interconnected. Being traditional ritual performance, African dancing is closely connected to religion; therefore, when is turns to the discussion of the cultural significance of African style of dancing, the religious aspects cannot be avoided.

Dance serves as the way to solve some problems of people. They are sure that through dancing people can increase fruitfulness, that the family problems are going to be solved, etc. Dancing in African belief is the way to refer to God and other spirits who can help them (Chambers 38).

Dwelling upon festivals, it is a recorded data that “participants do experience fruitfulness in place of barrenness, success instead of failure/delay in marriage, etc.” (Adegbite 136). That is why it is impossible to reject the connection between religion, culture, and dance.


Therefore, it may be concluded that the African dancing style refers to traditional ritual dancing. Culture and religion are closely interconnected. Therefore, dancing is used as a way to express personal beliefs. Dancing is performed in a structured manner with a specific rhythm supported by many repetitions and traditional music which becomes famous in the whole world due to the festivals.

Thanks to the numerous festivals held in different parts of Africa, traditional ritual dancing and other specific cultural issues of this part of the world influence the cultures of different countries in the world and change those.

Works Cited

Adegbite, Adesina. “The impact of African traditional dance: Orosun example.” Journal Media and Communication Studies 2.6 (2010): 133-137. Print.

Asante, Kariamu Welsh. “Commonalties in African dance: An aesthetic foundation.” In Ann Dils, Ann Cooper Albright (Eds.), Moving History/Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader (144-151), Wesleyan: Wesleyan University Press, 2001. Print.

Asante, Molefi Kete and Ama Mazama. Encyclopedia of Black Studies. New York: SAGE, 2004. Print.

Chambers, Catherine. African Culture. New York: Raintree, 2012. Print.

Green, Doris. “The Saga of African Dance and Black Studies Departments.” The Journal of Pan African Studies 4.6 (2011): 16-37. Print.

Welsh, Kariamu. African Dance. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.