Top Dance Styles in Africa

When to comes to dance, dance styles in Africa always top the charts. Africa is a continent that is rich with different cultures, dance styles and traditions, and one of the more fun and vibrant traditions is dance.

Dance has been one of many forms of expression, storytelling and enjoyment across the continent, and alongside traditional dances, here are some of the popular dance styles in Africa. 

Gwara Gwara Dance – South Africa

The Gwara Gwara Dance was made popular by South African dance music artist, DJ Bongz, with the introduction of his hit single “Ofana Nawe,” featuring Sobz.

The dance went viral after DJ Bongz posted tutorials of how to do the dance on his social media streams, and has been featured in the videos of some of the country’s biggest hits, including “Wololo” by Babes Wodumo and “Gobisiqolo” by Bhizer. Gwara Gwara dance has become one of the most popular dance styles in Africa. 

Borrowdale Dance – Zimbabwe

The Borrowdale Dance is a high-energy dance from Zimbabwe that is considered a national rather than ethnic dance alongside the another popular dance called Chibhasikoro. The moves of the Borrowdale Dance imitate the moves of a galloping horse, where the dancer gallops with their legs while keeping the torso still.

The dance gets its name from the popular Borrowdale Racecourse in the affluent suburb of Borrowdale in Harare, and was initially started in the early 1980s as entertainment for betting spectators at the racecourse.

Etighi and Shoki Dances – Nigeria/West Africa

The Etighi and Shoki dances are the most popular in Nigeria and West Africa, having been featured in prominent music videos such as Yemi Alade’s smash hit “Johnny,” and even catching the attention of American singer, Ciara, when she visited Lagos in 2016.

Etighi is a dance from the Calabar/Akwa Ibom part of Nigeria, and consists of alternating hip and leg movements that are done to the beat. The Shoki Dance is said to have been originated by artists Lil Kesh and Orezi, and consists of dipping low with your body and rising up while doing hand movements to the beat.

Azonto Dance – Ghana/Nigeria

The Azonto Dance is still a popular dance that is done across the continent. It burst into mainstream pop culture in 2011 in Ghana by musician, Fuse ODG, and popularized in Nigeria by Wizkid. Like most African dance styles, the Azonto involves knee-bending and hip movements, and while dancing, one can add expressive movements for extra entertainment such as mimicking ironing, swimming or driving movements.

Ndombolo Dance – Congo

The Ndombolo Dance is a popular Central African dance that originates from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The movements of the dance are reliant on the waist and legs as one moves to the beat of the music.

The dance has been performed by notable artists such as Koffi Olomide and Awilo Longomba, and has come under criticism from authorities who attempted to ban public and media performances of the dance, calling it indecent because of its hip-swinging movements. An attempt to ban the dance from mainstream media in 2000 in Congo only made the dance more popular.

Séga Dance – Mauritius

Séga Dance is the main dance style found on the island nation of Mauritius as well as throughout the islands in the Indian Ocean. The dance is passed down from generation to generation, and because of its popularity, classes to learn the dance are offered to tourists visiting the island at many hotels.

The main movements are in the hips while your feet never leave the ground, and extra movements are created through swaying hands and swinging the brightly decorated island-style skirt.

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