By Kariamu Welsh-Asante
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Extra resources for African dance
The confusion indicates the fine line between dance and rhythm, and between music and rhythm. Rhythm enhances the artistic consciousness of the artist and performer. It renders new and different meanings each time, thereby opening new dimensions in creativity. The fact is that rhythm is both a powerful and subtle aspect of the African arts. Although rhythm has been subjected to numerous interpretations and theories, none of them sufficiently explain the phenomena; the real understanding is to understand that each time a meaning is discovered, there remains another meaning to be uncovered.
Although perceived differently, they both emanate from the same foundation, namely rhythm. There are many distinctions and differences to be sure, but those distinctions are internal and interrelated within the African dance body. For instance, if one looks at the Soba dance, the approach can vary according to what is being observed. What is constant, however, is the idea that the Soba is the sum total of its movements and rhythms. Rhythm remains the central core to any expression of African culture.
Igunnu tilts, bends, widens, and contracts; twirls, swirls, bounces, stands upside down, and assumes numerous positions. Nigeria’s Nkwa Ese is a dance-play that takes place at an elder’s burial and is a reenactment of the heroic deeds of the deceased. It is a reminder that his heroism could invoke the wrath of old individuals attending from other villages whose relatives had been his victims. This could lead to a serious battle instead of a mock battle. Sons and other male kin of the deceased dance the Nkwa Ese.
African dance by Kariamu Welsh-Asante