The History Of African Dance

African dance styles vary across tribes and nations, but all are deeply steeped in ritual and history. For most tribes, dance is used for more than simple entertainment. Dance can represent prayer, emotional communication, rites of passage, and much more.

History of African Dance


Many tribes have a dedicated authority whose sole purpose is to pass along the tribes traditional dances. There may be myriad dances special to each tribe, and it is the purpose of the "dance master" to ensure that everyone knows the proper movements without question.

Dances are often passed down through the ages, and many African dances have been danced for centuries without alteration. It is important that many of these dances be performed in a particular way with no room for improvisation.

Characteristics of African Dance


Most African dances are characterized by isolated movements that can be quite difficult to master. These are known as polycentric movements, meaning that the dancer's body is broken up and various parts of the body are moving independently of one another. Although the dances of varying tribes can differ drastically, many of them have been danced the same way for centuries and have polycentric aspects to them.

The drum is a crucial component of African tradition. It could be considered the heartbeat of the tribe, setting the mood of the community and serving as a communal point of energy connecting tribal members together. Apart from the drum, African dance is also characterized by the clapping of hands and stomping of feet, maintaining a steady rhythm that is almost always accentuated by the singing voices of the tribe, all the while dancing.


Evolution of African Dance Through Slavery


Slave labor out of Africa became a worldwide commodity in the 1500s. As Africans were stolen from their homes to be sold as slaves, they were dispersed across the world from South and North America to Europe and the Caribbean.

Africans brought dance with them to these new lands, and in places such as Europe and South America, where slaves were given more freedom to practice their traditions, their dances merged with the preexisting dance styles to form new dances. However, in North America, slaves were grievously repressed and subjugated to cruel laws that inhibited them from being able to dance. But the Africans found ways to adapt their dancing and continue their traditions despite their circumstances.

These dances stayed with their people throughout the centuries even as they were sent to new lands and have since evolved into some of the world's most popular dance styles, including:

  • The Charleston
  • Tap Dancing
  • The Lindy Hop
  • The Jitterbug
  • The Twist
  • Jazz Dance
  • Hip hop
  • Crunking
  • Twerking
  • Zouk
  • Capoeira
And more...

Check out the is fantastic Ted Ed video of African American Social Dance


New Level, New Devil: Unexpected Challenges We Face As We Advance

After winning a World title at the Closed Silver level in American Smooth last year, my teacher and I decided to skip Gold and move straight up to the Open division. A whole new world of possibilities opened up as the syllabus became just a starting point for our dancing, instead of the structure that our dancing had to fit into. Open presented the opportunity to be more creative and build routines that were more uniquely me.

New Year, Another Chance

The New Year has rolled in, bringing with it not only new dreams, goals, and expectations, but also a breath of fresh air for all those who aim to take great strides in the coming months, particularly the athletes of the DanceSport industry. Let’s take a closer look at what the New Year has in store for the dancers, audience members, and World DanceSport Federation as a whole.

Finding Love on the Dance Floor

Happy Candy Hearts and Chocolate Month! Just in time for us to waver on our New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, right? 

On A Break from Dance Competitions? How To Stay Motivated

Goals are essential for any journey. They keep you motivated and accountable at the same time. Dancesport is no different, and competitions are great goals to work toward.  

What's In a Championship Title?

Championship competitions are when dancers have the chance to claim a World or National Championship title. But is it really that big of a deal? These competitions will happen again in 2019 and 2020 and someone else could be awarded the World Champion title. Does that mean the previous winner is dethroned? Or once a champion, always a champion? There is a title for each of the multiple skill and age categories. Is one more of a world champion than another? 

Recap | UCWDC World Championships

What a week! The UCWDC World Championships wrapped up about half past midnight local time on Saturday night (or Sunday morning, technically). In addition to crowning a new Classic Masters World Champion, Saturday night brought repeat performances by many of the new World Champions from the entire week, a showdance by Marc Davidson and Sylvie Raymond (winners of five consecutive UCWDC Showcase Masters World Championships and two consecutive UCWDC Classic Masters World Championships) and a live performance by country music artist, Eric Heatherly.

Midway Updates of the UCWDC World Champs

Let’s dance, y’all! The 2019 Country Dance World Championships are well underway at the Grand Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Don’t forget, if you’re not able to be there physically, you can be a virtual spectator via live stream on FloDance.

What to Expect at the 27th Annual Country Dance World Championships

What better way to ring in the New Year than with dancing? If it’s country dancing that makes your heart sing and your feet move, then the Country Dance World Championships is the New Year’s party for you! 

Recap | 2018 WDSF World Open Standard Riga

Last but not least, we conclude the final WDSF World Open of the year. This weekend was full of excitement not only due to the Youth Latin World Championship but also with the inclusion of the Standard World Open and the World Championship of the Professional Standard Show Dance division. 

Recap | 2018 World Championship Youth Latin Riga

It has truly been a stellar year for the Russian Federation as athletes of various divisions took numerous WDSF World Titles. Here is a quick overview of a few of the Champion couples of 2018: