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    African and Carribean Dance Essay

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    Within African and Caribbean dance there are many similar stylistic features stemming from various places either being the background from where the dance evolved from or cultural significances. Within the essay there will be discussions about the movement language of the two styles. Cultural significance and the stylistic features of the dance will also be discussed. The two styles of dance from African that will be discussed are Muchongoyo and Kinka.

    Caribbean will be focussing on the Kumina and Dinkie-Minie. Originating from Congo in West Africa is the traditional ritual, Kumina. According to Carty, Kumina practitioners believe there are three ranks of spirits, this dance calls to the the Ancestral rank. The dance calls on the spirits to fulfil their wishes of good and evil, and is performed at different events including marriages, engagement, births, deaths and for political or social success. Also as stated by Carty it can be used to perform evil tasks such as making someone ill or wishing bad luck on their family. This is possible because the ancestors they call upon were also alive at one point so share their feelings on justice and revenge.

    (Carty, 1988. Pg 20-21) The ritual commonly begins at sundown and ends at sunrise and different colours are worn for different ceremonies. They dance round a central pole, also dressed in particular colours for the ritual. Within the group of dancers is also a King or Queen dancer who is the leader, this person will normally either be the best dancer in the group or will be the most knowledgable in the rituals and customs. Cary, 1988. Pg 21) The Kumina has two main drums that are used, namely the Kbandu and the Playing Cast.

    The Kbandu is the male drum which is made from the skin of a ewe, stretched and sprayed with White Rum until the required pitch is acquired. The leading drum is the Playing cast, the female drum which speaks throughout the dance and leads the dancers through their breaks and motions. One of the main movements within the Kumina use footwork and the pelvis. The feet move across the floor in a movement known as Inching.

    Carty, 1988. Pg 22) The body is grounded with the knees bent and the ribcage rotates. Dinkie-Minie is a dance originating from Jamaica. The ritual that takes place during this dance is called ‘The Set Up and the Ninth-Nights’. The Dinkie-Minie is performed to celebrate the death of someone, it is a ritual where a community will come together and support the persons family whilst helping them to celebrate that their deceased love one has moved to a better place. (Carty, 1988.

    Pg32) The spirits journey begins on the Ninth Night where it leaves for the better place, however in the days leading up to that, after the sadness at the beginning, the relatives then sing and dance to rejoice about the deceased being in a better place. The drums and instruments used in the Dinkie-Minie are the Katta sticks milk tins, graters and shakes but the instrument necessary for the dance is the Tamboo a drum which is cylindrical. Again like the Kumina the Dinkie-Minie is based on strong pelvic rotations, and knees that almost knock together. Dinkie has a very spiritual side and having a wake of this style is crucial the the african culture within it. With both these dances being rituals they are very similar. They both have an ancestral side whether it be sending the loved ones up to the ancestors or calling upon the ancestors to grant their wishes.

    One of West Africa’s traditional dance and music forms is the Kinka. The style is of recent origins in the 1940s and gives a youthful inclination of dance throughout the song. The dance is not so much a spiritual piece like the Dinkie-Minie and the Kumina, it is more of a social and entertaining style. (Gbolonyo, K. 2012) As Gbolonya says “Short repetitive metaphoric phrases are the norms of this communal entertainment. ” This explains about how the piece really follows a structure of repetition as the dancer initiates different movements.

    The drummer is in direct control of how to piece moves forward as they give the call on the drum so the dancer can change to a different movement, of come back to the original movement to join the rest of the dancers. The drum signals also help dancers keep the time and rhythm as the dance progresses. Gbolonyo also states that the Kinka is used more for a political statement and is well crafted to do so. The Muchongoyo is a dance that originates from Zimbabwe and the Nguni-speaking groups of South Africa. As a dance, Muchongoyo falls into the category of Indlamu, a military drill exercise created to install discipline into the men of the zulu nation and mental prepare them for war.

    (Asante, KW. 2000 Pg 68 ) The drum which is now used for Muchongoyo is a modern variation on the traditional drums. Women are mainly the musicians in this dance playing the hashes and sing alongside the men, the drum accompany the dance and whistles are used to accent the stomps in the piece. (Welsh, K. 2004 Pg109) Muchongoyo is a powerful dance and produces that much force and energy that the performer really starts to mix and make one with the powerful dance and music. “A.

    M Opokuexpressed the idea: dance and music should be so closely connected that ‘one can see the music and hear the dance. ” (Sieber. 1986 Pg 234) In the performance of Muchongoyo, the dance itself must work to personify the sound and really make it come as a whole together for the audience to feel that powerful involvement. ( Asante, KW. 2000 Pg 65) The costumes also play a part in the making of such a strong dance. They are neo- traditional and try to imitate as closely to their forefathers costume choices as they can.

    The men have short skirts with shorts and wear ostrich feathers in their hair. Caribbean and African dance clearly have strong roots and a shared cultural history. The powerful music styles make them stand out from other traditional styles in the world and they share the same instrument, the percussion. The main thing that keeps them so traditional and exciting to watch is that even as time moves forward and they develop the styles always stick to their traditional roots which you can follow all the back to their African descent. Making them very entertaining and educational almost to watch.


    Carty, H.

    (1988. ) Folk dances of Jamaica: An Insight, United Kingdom: Distributed in the U. S. A. by Princeton Book Co.

    Gbolonyo , K. , Music and Dance. Adams Habobo. Available at: http://www.

    adanuhabobo. com/music–dance. html [Accessed December 20, 2014]. Jopling, C. & Sieber, R. , 1971.

    Art and Aesthetics in Primitive Societies: A Critical Anthology, United States: New York : Dutton, c1971. Welsh Asante, M. (2000. ) Zimbabwe Dance 1st ed.

    , Trenton: Africa World Press, Inc. Welsh-Asante, K. (2004. ) African Dance (World of Dance), United States: Chelsea House Publications.

    Citations(Carty, 1988 Pg 20-21)(Carty, 1988 Pg 21)(Carty, 1988 Pg 22)(Carty, 1988 Pg 32(Gbolongo, K. 2012)(Asante, KW. 2000 Pg 68)(Welsh, K. 2004 ph 109)(Sieber. 1986 pg 234)(Asante, KW.

    2000 Pg 65)

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