Monday, 26 November 2012

Adowa - Dance Gestures; to support African Dance Workshops for Schools

I have done quite a few dance workshops in schools lately and as always it’s great to share. However, I am aware that within a short timespan it can be difficult to explain the intricacies of the dance. So I thought I would try to put something down on paper, to support my African workshops for schools and for a wider audience who may be interested. In Ghana, we are blessed with many traditional dances and their accompanying rhythms like Adowa, Kpalogo, Apatampa, Damba, Agbaza, Borborbor. Performances are a conversation between the musicians and the dancers with teasing and humour being part of the process. The dances are traditional and as such as often performed at events such as festivals, durbars, naming ceremonies, puberty rites and funerals. Perhaps one of the most famous dances is Adowa, from the Ashanti region. The Adowa dance is full of intricate graceful walking movements and hand gestures coupled with subtle bowing and twisting of the body. The gestures that are made while dancing Adowa have specific meanings. Many of them relate to sorrow as the dance is common at funerals but also statements of power, as it is common at Durbars. A fist pounding action that stays constant with the drums and then a finger slap means that you are one and loved. The motion of clenching your fists over your stomach with your arms crossed says, “I am an orphan” because no one is there to provide for you anymore. Putting your arms out and then pointing to yourself means that everything is yours, possibility is still there, and that you will get through this time. A handclasp behind the back says, “I am lonely,” or “I have lost a loved one.” Tapping and swinging your hands also signifies the pain the dancer is expressing. Dancer flexes left hand to the left and right hand to the right and brings both arms to the chest crossed. This gesture is interpreted as The whole land is under my control (symbol of authority- danced by Chiefs unless dance by a dance group) Dancer wails and flexes both hands up and forward slightly apart. This gesture means I am pitifully left alone. Dancer forms a closed ring with the middle finger and thumb. This means Are you married? Dancer puts index finger in mouth. This gesture means Admiration of the beauty of female dance partner. Dancer brings one hand into an upward facing palm in an up and down consistent movement. This is interpreted as Please forgive me. Please follow these links to find out more about African Dance workshops or African Drumming workshops for groups. We can also provide an African Street Band Keya Bobo to perform music for all of the above dances.