The culture of the Nigerian people embraces Igbo dance not only as a traditional ritual but as the critical means of communication as well. Thus, according to the history of West Africa, it may be claimed that the sources of Igbo development extended from the vital necessity for people to express their emotions and attitudes towards the surrounding. It has to be noted that Igbo cultural dances stem in spiritual patterns: they rely on the specific systems of signs, which might transmit either words or emotions that are recognizable by the south-eastern African citizens. Tracing the date of Igbo dance’s introduction is an undertaking task since the tradition has been overtaken by new Igbo generations from century to century. The only fact, which is certified by the historical scripts, proves that the tradition was founded thousands of years ago.
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Several types of Igbo national dances, which refer to certain calendar celebration occasions, may be differentiated. Mainly, one of the most popular dances, in Igbo culture, is called Mmanwu and is used with the reference to dainties. Thus, the experts argue that certain movements of the dance demonstrate the orders or judgments of the gods to the nation. In contrast to it, Ikpirikpi-ogu dance is claimed to be the ritual of warriors, which was developed with the aim of welcoming the soldiers, who were returning from the war battles. Atilogwu dance is peculiar for young dancers, who, typically, gather, so that to make some active and energetic movements for entertaining themselves (Egudu 275). One often compares this type of dancing to the one, which is performed in the sport games. Thus, one can conclude that Igbo cultural dances have a long history of existence and serve as the complicated semiotic system of language or emotion expression.
The Concept of Gender in Igbo Dancing
The culture of Igbo rituals is rooted not only in the connection with the traditions of the nation but is tightly aligned with the roles of the dancers. Thus, a specific positioning, in Igbo dances, belongs to a woman. In the Nigerian culture, one differentiates the type of dance, which was designed specifically for married women and is, consequently, performed only by this social group. It is claimed, that, in this way, the African culture, which views a female as a housewife, offered a method of entertaining exhausted Nigerian women. Thus, the rhythm of this Igbo dance presupposes the use of multiple hips movements and is quite relaxing. Therefore, it provides the opportunity for women to recompose their strengths after cooking or babysitting.
Moreover, the Igbo culture popularizes one more popular female dance, which is named Nkwa. The dance targets the group of maidens, who remain unmarried for the long time, and want to attract the attention of men to their beauty. Therefore, the dance implies making a lot of seductive and energetic moves. The dances, which focus males, are not brightly represented in the Igbo culture. However, the experts note that Mgba, which is performed during the struggles, as well as Ikpirikpi-ogu dance, which is characteristic for war activities, are rather performed by men than women (Ekwueme, 15). Finally, one distinguishes the so-called funeral Igbo dance, which is called Ese. The tradition of paying the last respect to the deceased, in Nigeria, presupposes that females are ushering a dead female in the after-life world by performing a specific dance while males do the same for deceased men. Furthermore, Igbo culture specifies dances for children, which differs from adult dancing and, typically, refers to the representation of animals, sun salutation, etc. (Aderinto 221).
The Role of Attire in Igbo Dances
Igbo culture introduces its peculiar attire fashion, which may be well-traced in the traditional citizens’ dances. The characteristics of Igbo clothing refer to the color variety and district differentiation. Moreover, it may be noticed that every type of Igbo dance concerns a ritual, which is celebrated by the dance. For instance, the attire, which is worn, in war dances, is characterized by the use of military attributes and dark colors.
If one discusses Igbo dances attire, the experts notice that it usually embraces national clothing, which demonstrates the sense of respect to the culture of a dance. Moreover, due to the idea that ritual dances signify the spirit of Nigerian culture, the attire is matched to the traditional clothing (Okeke 125). Since Igbo population functions in several district regions, every group has some peculiarities, which embody regional differentiations. Nevertheless, the historians do not specify any symbolic tendencies in Igbo clothing creation. This idea is connected with the fact that poverty and lack of resources hampered the process of developing ethnic clothes. However, there are some accessible materials, in Nigeria, which are mostly used for the creation of dance attire. For instance, one of the most typical materials for Igbo clothing is brocade, which is used for suing flowing dresses and skirts. Moreover, female attire for Igbo dances, often, incorporates akwete, lace, and jacguard. In the process of Nigerian national clothing evolution, the costume under the name Isi agu was created. The attire combines multiethnic peculiarities and is, traditionally, worn by men from different ethnic groups, in dances (Jekayinfa 24).
The Significance of Igbo Dancing for Nigerians
The combination of Nigerian dance and music is considered to represent the core of African culture. The citizens of Igbo region pay exceptional attention to learning to play different musical instruments. For instance, drum playing is one of the most typical activities, which is practiced by Nigerian youth. Since Nigerians prefer energetic and lively music, playing is always accompanied by performing national dances, which concern Igbo rituals. The positioning of Igbo dancing reveals that it does not only refer to the category of mass entertainments but is a part of any traditional ritual. Indeed, the culture of Igbo population assigns critical roles to such procedures as funeral or wedding. Igbo citizens are deeply persuaded that performing an appropriate type of dance, in the funeral, improves the chances for a deceased to have a happy afterlife. War dances are aimed at the attraction of Godly assistance, in the course of fights. The dances, which are performed by Nigerians in weddings, define whether the couple is going to lead a happy life. The importance of Igbo dancing is rooted in religious persuasions of the population, which believes in personal power. Specifically, the citizens claim that everyone has the so-called internal Chi, which may realize its divine powers, in the process of dancing (Chukwukere 520). Conclusively, the role of Igbo dances, in the life of Nigerian population, concerns the spiritual life, religious fundament, and entertaining activities, which function in Africa.
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Egudu, Romanus. “The Art of Igbo Dance-Poems.” African Studies 29.4 (2007): 271-278. Print.
Ekwueme, Leanis. Nigerian Performing Arts: Past, Present and Future with Particular Reference to the Igbo Practice, Paris: Vous Consultez, 2007. Print.
Jekayinfa, Annabel. “Effects of Culture-Contact on the Contemporary Nigerian Life.” Humanities & Social Sciences 12.1 (2001): 21-27. Print.
Okeke, Cleave. “Factors which Influenced Igbo Traditional Woven Designs for Apparel Fabrics.” Textile History 8.1 (1977): 116-130. Print.