West African dance forms or styles are strong, virile and vital with the feeling of dynamic thrust and resistance. They are exceeding controlled, having the power to project the gentle wind or the raging storm. Ranging from the walk and all variations, the techniques of the West African dance embrace the leap, the hop, the skip, the jumps, falls of all descriptions and turns which balance the dancer at the most precarious angles with the ground. But more than any combination of steps, West African dance movements have urgency. The dancer has direction and purpose. The purpose is to communicate. This is why he can assume the proportion of an ant or giant. For the dancer and his people, celebrating the life of the community more than that of the individuals or couples, the dance is life! The course will analyze how these many genres hybridized when crossing geographical, social and cultural boundaries within the context of West African dance forms/styles. What is gained and lost learning West African Dance style? How do people from their ethnicity interpret music and dance they perform that are not ethnically their own? How are these dances used in constructing West African/Diaspora identities?

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