Monday, June 24, 2013

In many traditional cultures music and dance is as much a part of everyday life as eating and breathing. In Africa, as with other parts of the world ceremonial dance tells a story. More than mere entertainment, it recounts history, conveys emotion, celebrates rites of passage, and helps to unify communities.

Defining African Dance

“African dance” is usually associated with sub-Saharan and Western Africa. By contrast, most of the music and dance of Northern Africa and the Sahara is often more closely connected with the Middle East. One of the key differences between African dance and all other types of dance is its polycentric nature.

What “polycentric” means and why it’s unique to African dance

Polycentric dance means that various regions of the dancer’s body move to different rhythms within the music. These segmented movements are often referred to as “isolations” and can be quite difficult to master. While there are similarities of polycentric movement between the various ethnic groups within and between African countries there are also distinct differences.

Cultural identity through dance

For instance, each ethnic group has a different language or dialect of a language, its own norms, history and traditions. A community’s unique identity is reflected through their particular musical interpretation and dance style. In a traditional African village everybody dances. The drumbeat provides a pulsating rhythm. In response to the beating of the drums, the entire community connects, spontaneously singing and interacting with the dancers.

The impact of slavery on African dance

Dance helps to strengthen bonds and preserve cultural heritage. Nowhere was this more evident arguably than at the onset of the slave trade in the 16th century. Africans were forcibly taken to the Caribbean, North and South America, and Portugal. In some regions slave owners either banned or restricted traditional dance by prohibiting slaves from lifting their feet. So the African slaves adapted accordingly. They danced in secret or changed dances slightly by shuffling their feet and adjusting the movement of the hips and body. In this way the spirit and importance of music and dance endured.

Reflections of traditional African culture at Gold Restaurant

A dining experience at Gold Restaurant is rooted in the vibrant spirit of Africa. From our food, d├ęcor, interactive drumming and live entertainment to our friendly staff, we do our best to give you a genuine taste of the heartbeat of Africa. While we’ve adapted our offering to suit Western palates everything we do takes inspiration from all over the African continent.

You might also be interested in:
Fun With Djembe Drumming at GOLD
Take Note: 3 Unusual African Instruments

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