Dance has been a big part of African culture for centuries.
It has served as a form of artistic expression, entertainment, and preservation of culture for future generations. It is an emblem of hope that keeps the African people going even in the toughest times. Today, we discuss African dance in its modern form as we analyze some of the most popular African dance moves in recent times.
Azonto is a bubbly dance move that has roots in Ghana. There are a few twists to the way people dance Azonto, but primarily, the dance itself is composed of simultaneous hip and knee bending moves. At the same time, the arms are flung up and down to move in sync with the rest of the body. The dance was made popular by the viral music video ‘Azonto’ by Fuse ODG FT. Itz Tiffany which racked up 3 million views on YouTube. Closely followed after this was the song ‘Azonto’ which was released by Wizkid and further served to cement the already brewing popularity of the dance step.
This dance move is almost synonymous with Amapiano. This is understandable since the inception of the dance is attributed to Amapiano sounds. The playful dance move can be traced to South Africa where the Amapiano sound was invented. When grooving to Amapiano music, fans prefer to do the pouncing cat dance. In fact, the two (Amapiano and cat dance) go together like bread and butter and the combination often makes the crowd go wild in a frenzy of excitement. The pouncing cat move involves rotating hand movements while simultaneously touching the heel of your foot on the ground. While that is going on, the head typically moves whichever way the rest of your body is going even though some prefer to keep their head on just one side.
This street-style dance move was introduced in Nigeria and was popularized by music artists like Olamide who displayed it in his music video. Other superstars such as Davido, Tiwa Savage, and Wizkid quickly followed suit. Its complex, intricate steps are always a hit in African parties and events. Funny enough the dance move looks like that of a drunk person. It starts with the arms being crossed at the level of the wrist. Next the legs are opened up slightly. In a smooth transition move that involved partly jumping, the arms are extended opposite to each other and it continues that way as the song goes on. Just like most African modern dance moves, some parts are free styled depending on the move and discretion of the dancer.
On the East African side of the dance world, we have Yope. Yope is a dance move which was invented by Innoss’B and Diamond Platnumz in 2019. In their music video titled ‘Yope’, we are presented with a wide array of dance moves which includes raising both hands in the air and thrusting the hips forward while the legs slightly edge forward as well. Another dance step included is a sliding move where both hands are placed on the thigh and the body is made to move in one direction while the head and neck gracefully slides in the opposite direction while the dancer alternates to move up and down.
This dance move with Ghanaian origins is one of the easiest Modern Africa dance steps. The style was introduced by Guilty Beatz and Mr. Eazi. The dance move which went global was even called Mr. Eazi’s dance for a long time because of his monumental influence in the popularity of the song. It primarily involves a lot of hand movement. The dance typically starts from the side profile of the dancer. The dancer leans on one knee, preferably the right knee. The dancer alternates the knees, starting to lean on the right, then left. At the same time, the dancer makes a chopping motion with his/her hands as if trying to split a block, after a few counts the dancer then smartly raises a full arm straight up in the air.
Gwara Gwara is a very popular dance move from South Africa. It is believed to be created by DJ Bongz and it is one African modern dance move that went viral even internationally. Gwara Gwara exploded in popularity around to the extent that it was included in Rihanna’s performance in the 2018 Grammy Awards. Dancers trying out this move typically lift one foot off the ground to enable them lean in and swing it. While the leg is swinging, the arm also swings inwardly especially when the foot of the dancer strikes the ground. To continue the movement, the dancer lifts an elbow as the whole swinging motion repeats itself.
The South Africans are at it again with this agile Vosho dance. Many people believe that Zodwa Wabantu (A dancer from South Africa) influenced the popularity of the dance through the viral video of her performance. The dance step entails squatting and kicking moves that require a lot of energy to execute. It looks very similar to the Slavic squat and kick dance. There is another newer version of the dance that requires more head movement. In this version, the head of the dancer has to lean in harmony with the rhythm of the song. Vosho might look very easy on the surface when done by a professional dancer, but we challenge you to try it out sometime and see for yourself.
Dance is one element that cannot be separated from the African people. Over time, dance in Africa has evolved into more advanced and complex steps. The contribution of a variety of dance moves from all parts of the continent has led to Africans having more ways to express ourselves through the enjoyable art form. Especially with the emergence of music videos, creating a new African dance move has now become as easy as ABC. With the influx of several creative songs from our beloved music artists, we can only get excited as we expect the creation of even more innovative dance moves.