Learn African Dance Moves

Dance is an important part of African culture that is often performed to drumming music at various social events. Specific dances vary by tribe, but they are all deeply rooted in tradition and easily identifiable by their isolated movements. African dances also tend to stay close to the earth, with many moves being grounded in nature. You can learn how to perform African dance moves by following the step-by-step instructions in Howcast’s free video tutorials!

History of African Dancing

African dance is extremely cultural, with several tribes creating their own style of unique dance. Individual dances are passed from generation to generation and typically have rigid rules regarding how they are performed, meaning that there are few, if any, changes across the years. This leads to distinct dances that have been performed identically for centuries.

Almost all African dances incorporate rhythmic drumming, feet stamping, and hand clapping. This creates a perfect rhythm that sets the tone for both the tribe and dance itself. African dance has persisted through centuries and is a major part of history. Its influences can be found today in hundreds of different dances from around the world.

Of course, there are many new dances originating from Africa as well. Here are some of the most popular:

Azonto

The Azonto first appeared in 2011, in response to the song “U Go Kill Me” by Sarkodie and E.L. It has roots linking back to the KpanIogo dance of Ghana with an added fusion of modern elements. This spicy dance can be performed with plenty of attitude.

Azonto dancing is extremely fresh with an abundance of popping movements. It requires a dancer to have a wide stance, feet outward, with bent knees. One leg will typically stay in place while the other is used to make twisting movements following a music beat. From here, a dancer can include hand movements that simulate activities like talking on the phone, taking a shower, and driving to give the dance extra flavor.

Etighi / Kukere

The Etighi is another exciting dance that originates from Nigeria. It became popular around 2012 thanks to the song “Kukere” by Iyanya, which slightly adapted the Etighi to create the Kukere. Etighi and Kukere are often used interchangeably, because the two dances are nearly identical. As a result, most people who are dancing the Kukere are also doing the Etighi!

Both the Etighi and Kukere feature a dancer in a bent-over, locked-knee position with a heavy focus on leg stamping movements. While doing this, someone performing Etighi will also pump their arms rhythmically, but this has room for interpretation and improvisation. Etighi/Kukere dancing is extremely sensual because of the bent-over position and fierce leg movements that cause a dancer to prominently shake their behind. The Etighi/Kukere is easy to learn for even new dancers!

Start African Dancing!

This guide should help give you a starting point to learning African dances. For even more free video tutorials and guides, head to our main How to Dance page