What I remember from National Geographic videos or from what I have seen of the “african style” numbers performed by dance companies – African dancing seems to involve moving whole bodies, especially the mid-section, to drum-heavy music. I am no dumby – I know that I can’t generalize all of the African cultures’ dance styles into one category or image. But I was definitely not expecting to find the kind of dance that is prevalent in this culture. The first cultural celebration I attended a year and a half ago surprised me when I saw how this African culture moves their bodies – by popping their shoulders and necks in and out. Way, way more intense then the chicken-style dance you are probably thinking about. For the most part, people never move their lower bodies at all, except to maybe “sway” around with the music. All the energy is focused in the chest and upper back. People will face each other and try and match the others movements. A very intense back and forth of varying pulses and patterns – all within the beat of the music.
Now, if you go to a special performance with dancers and music, you will see more full-body movement. Last year, we went to see a showcase of the different regions’ take on the dance. Every few songs, the dancers would change clothes into the appropriate attire for that specific region. It was a load of fun. The dancers would come into the audience and get the crowd dancing too. Even with my many years of dance training, I cannot manage to get the hang of it. I may fair better than some foreigners, but man I sure do look silly. The nationals enjoy it though.