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Seven Dances From Around The World

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Dance is so many things. To some it is passion, to some it is an art pursued with discipline and to some it is sheer joy with reckless abandon. Without a worry in the world, dancing your heart out can release a lot of endorphins or cause a dangerously big smile to break on your face! ? And along with all this is the fact that dance is an intrinsic part to witnessing cultures as well. Some dances narrate a history, some reflect on local practices and some just leave you a piece of a puzzle that makes a place. Here’s looking at some amazing dances from around the world.

(Note: Indian dance forms have not been mentioned because they are so many and so beautiful that they deserve a piece of their own!)

Zaouli Mask Dance, Ivory Coast

The richly vibrant dance is said to pay a tribute to feminine beauty. It originated in Ivory Coast, more particularly amongst the Guro people. The Guro were traditional hunters and agriculturists residing near the Bandama River. Even today, each Guro village has a prized Zaouli dancer amongst all the festivals and competitions organized around it. The fast and furious dance involves the torso being relatively still while the legs move extremely vigorously. The dance’s beauty doesn’t rely on the movement alone but also on the elaborate costume, the band beating the drums in pace with the dancer and more. There are 7 masks for different legends. But they are said to represent Djela Lon Zaouli which translates to mean the Lion’s daughter.

Zaouli Mask Dance, Ivory Coast
Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/421016265141664962/

Tinikling, Philippines

Tinikling is the most popular dance form hailing from Philippines. It involves bamboos and can be typically broken into singles, doubles and then hopping. When performed as a group you can usually witness them forming a circle, a flower and even a butterfly! The upbeat folk dance is performed in nooks and corners, casual markets to elaborate stages globally, such is its popularity. Curiously, the dance traces its roots to a bird named tinikling after which the dance has been named. The bird belongs to the rail species and is seen walking on grass or hopping to avoid traps set by farmers. It is these moves that the performers seek to replicate in their elaborate rendition.

Tinikling, Philippines
Source: https://www.facebook.com/626243827887882/photos/a.626243867887878/626248421220756/?type=1&theater

Dragon Dance, China

The dragon dance is key to the culture of China. It is performed not just on new year’s but across festivals and momentous occasions of all kinds. Dragons in itself are held very highly in the Chinese culture that deems them to be symbols of good luck. The dance stems from a period between 206BC – 220AD when the Han dynasty reigned. It began then as an act of worship, praying to the ancestors as well as praying for rain. Overtime it became an act of entertainment to even a ceremonial activity. The dance cannot just be carried out on any day but only on specified days. The dancers holding the dragon as shown above are seen moving it up and down, left and right as if the revered creature is moving in waves suggesting it to be actively dancing. The head and the tail of the dragon are even burnt under some ceremonies while the body is returned to the local Dragon Temple for use the next year.

dragon dance china
Source: https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-01-09/Dragon-dance-launches-Chinese-New-Year-celebrations-at-Edinburgh-UK-N6w5EqZOKs/index.html

Haka, New Zealand

Haka is a dance incepted by the Maori community of Polynesian roots. The Maoris are said to have arrived in New Zealand by around 1300 CE where they invented this dance form. Haka involves active movement of the entire body. It isn’t just movement. There’s stamping, thumping, beating of the chest and thighs! There are fierce facial expressions, widened bulging eyes and also an aggravated show of tongues. The reason for such stylised violence within this dance form is that it was originally practiced by Maori men as they would prepare for a battle. Presently, it is performed by all genders world over. The New Zealand rugby team even performed it at a match, getting them all charged up! The chants accompanying the dance are said to narrate the ancient tribal history. Protected within the cultural heritage, this dance is said to be a representation of “pride, strength and unity”.

Haka, New Zealand
Source: https://sites.google.com/site/placesinnewzealand/maori-culture

Hopak, Kiev, Ukraine

Sometime in the 16th century the hopak started as a folk dance by men. The modernised version involves women as well. The name has been derived from the word “hopaty” which means “to leap and stamp one’s feet” and I guess that is the most accurate description of the dance as well! There are stretches, squats and full-blown leaps during the performance. Involving a lot of acrobatic movements and their colourful attires makes it a visual delight in every way! As the folk tunes are belted out, the dancers at first perform as a big group and then one by one the dancers come in the centre to showcase their individual talents too. So, who’s in the mood to hop around and do some hopak?!

Hopak, Kiev, Ukraine
Source: https://pam.byu.edu/news/international-folk-dance-ensemble-new-video-hopak/

Raqs Sharki, Egypt

Raqs Sharqi literally translates into “Dance of the Orient” as a mark of its roots. The ancient 19th century dance was discovered by travelling artists and writers. Today the global belly dance which has stirred so many audiences and actually goes back to Raqs Sharqi. The dancers were in their era of origin referred to as the “Ghawazi”. While the dance has staunch supporters and audiences today, back then the dancers were unfortunately ostracised. They were even prohibited from wearing their attires also! The dance came to be looked down upon even as a form of prostitution. Fortunately, the dance form survived and went onto gain ground throughout the world. The performers put in training and exercise to showcase their moves with great stamina and precision.

Raqs Sharki, Egypt
Source: http://arabesquelex.com/aevent/raqs-sharqi-dance-lessons-with-safiya-nawaar-picadome-elementary

Now, while you and I are busy dancing away on Bollywood music and what not, if you were to try out one of these dances which one would it be?!

Click here to read about Seven Weird Marriage Traditions From Around The World!

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