African dance has a rich and dynamic history. Evolving over time from a channel of generational and ritualistic storytelling, to an outlet of creative and social expression, the influence of African dance is unmistakable in other genres, with moves often materializing in Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, Breakdance and Dance Hall.
The traditional movements are infused with a playful, lively energy that's quite infectious, it’s almost impossible to resist the allure of Afro dance and its accompanying music. While the moves are steeped in fun and exuberance, learning the specifics of each move takes some skillful coordination. Just as a percussionist must master the ability to simultaneously keep the beat of distinct rhythms, those learning Afro dance must be able to isolate motion in different parts of their bodies at the same time. This concept is called polycentric movement (i.e. having more than one centre), and is at the core of most Afro-inspired dance moves.
Some people have a natural flair for moving polycentrically, but for others this concept is frustratingly difficult and may even feel unattainable at times. But, just like everything in life, it takes repetition and practice! We’ve all heard people say, “I can’t dance.” But the truth is, those people are often lacking the instinctive ability to move their bodies polycentrically, so are more likely to find dancing embarrassing or strenuous - thus the “I can’t” attitude. Born dancers are usually the ones who have this skill as soon as they can walk, but those who don’t can always learn to condition their bodies, as long as they’re willing to put in some hard work.
An effective teaching tool is the tutorial video: a video that slows down each dance move step by step and can turn even the least coordinated, heavy-footed dancer into a graceful, flowing flamingo of a dancer. Thankfully, YouTube is bursting at the seams with tutorials made by highly skilled dancers, promoting accessible dance education for all. So if you’re one of those people that avoids the dancefloor out of fear of utter humiliation, maybe give some tutorials a try and see if learning some new moves gives your confidence a boost. After all, dance is supposed to be celebratory and expressive, which means there really aren’t any rules. As long you’re having fun, working up a sweat, and respecting your fellow dancers, you really can’t go wrong.
If you are interested in learning an African dance move, why not go to the Dancelogue Afro Tag (https://dancelogue.com/dance/afro) find a move that you fancy and click through to the YouTube link to view the tutorial.