Dance has been one of the many forms of expression, storytelling and enjoyment on the continent. The different styles in Africa always top the charts, because of its rich cultures and traditions.
In celebration of Africa Month, choreographer, director and writer Lwandile Athandwa Jentile said his favourite African dance-style was the kizomba (party), which he does and teaches in his classes.
“Many critics tell us we should be using more of the hands and feet when we dance the kizomba. I believe the dance is a mixture of all of that,” he said.
The kizomba is one of Africa’s favourite exports. Originating in Angola, the dance is a mix of samba, merengue and traditional Angolan music.
Jentile added that he has heard of the Borrowdale dance - a quick-foot-action dance from Zimbabwe that can be compared to the kasi-style isipantsula.
With 11 years’ experience in the industry, Jentile performed in The Lion King as young Simba in 2007, and was lead dancer and singer in the production Africa uMoja from 2012-2015.
“It shows that the world appreciates creativity and our differences. Dances that originated from here include Afro-fusion isipantsula.
“Recent music videos show Beyoncé showcasing isipantsula, which is part of the township dance.
“We took it overseas and they appreciated those dances,” said Jentile.
“When you want to teach something to someone you must target a child, because children and the youth take our stuff and make it trend.”
Dance styles across Africa have crossed borders and are among a number of moves trending on social media platforms.
Jentile used an example of the gwara gwara, which became popular because children made it trend.
The dance was made popular by South African dance-music artist DJ Bongz with the introduction of his 2015 hit single Ofana Nawe.
The moves caught on like wildfire on social media, with local artists such as Durban’s queen of gqom Babes Wodumo and the Distruction Boyz making the freestyle popular.
Since then, US artists such as pop singer Rihanna and rapper Childish Gambino made commendable attempts of getting the gwara gwara dance right.
Jentile said African dance had always been a unique form of power.
“It’s the powerful energy our dances are fast, which sends people into a frenzy overseas. We dance like people who are possessed, and we are fast and technical.”
In Nigeria, dance has become one of that country’s staple entertainment commodities.
Popular moves such as the etighi and shoki dances were made famous by Nigerian superstars Yemi Alade’s smash hit Johnny, and Teknomiles with Duro. The moves caught the attention of US singer Ciara when she visited Lagos in 2016.
Shaku shaku, which originated in the vibrant streets of Agege in Nigeria, is another dance style to look out for.
The azonto dance style from Ghana went mainstream back in 2011, thanks to Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG.
“I’m looking forward to people engaging and respecting our craft as they would their corporate careers,” Jentile said.
Jentile is working on his own production The Zulu Queen Mkabayi KaJama Musical, which will be staged at the Joburg Theatre from June 21-24.