West African Dance

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West African Dance
West African Dance originated in the region known as West Africa which consists of 18 countries; including Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Stereotypes of African dancing were created in Europe and the Americas that even most westernized Africans began to accept, but the history of African dance dates back more than 3,000 years ago. Scholars have found drawings of people dancing on the walls of rocks in countries like Algeria and Egypt. This shows how important dancing was to the early humans. The earliest official records of African Dancing go back to fifteenth century when France and Britain controlled most of Western Africa. Europeans landed on the Guinea coast in the mid fifteenth century when trade flourished in gold, pepper, ivory and slaves.

Dancing in West Africa communicate many different things such as feelings, attitudes, concepts and stories. The people of West Africa dance for anything and everything. Dance has always played a very important role in the lives of West Africans. Throughout history, West African dances have been influenced by and performed for everything including celebrating a birth, harvest or death. Communities relied on dance to ward off evil spirits, to ask the gods for prosperity, or to resolve conflict. Also, dance in this region provides educational information about beliefs, morals and their heritage. It is a unique way of preserving history and passing down values to the younger generations. The history of the people’s ancestry declares what type of dance they will perform in West Africa. Unlike America, people in Africa usually do not have the chance to better their lives; if they are born into an aristocrat family, then they will stay that way until death. An uncommon item about West African dancing is that even though they technically all do the same dances, such as the Bamana, each tribe has its own dance patterns. One tribe might move with more emphasis on the arms, and the other with...
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