By Kariamu Welsh-Asante
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Extra info for African dance
Before they did so, each of them showed her its special play, which she taught her people after returning home. When the people disobeyed the spirits’ rule of beating the drum every time a play was put on, Ekineba was finally abducted for good. Ever since, she has been the patron goddess of the Ekine masking society. Before the plays, members pray for a good performance as well as for health, wealth, plentiful offspring, and peace. Dance is at the core of the Ekine plays. Kakabotovi is a mask dance from Burkina Faso where the Kakabotovi figure comes out and mingles with the other performers.
Mendiane is a harvest dance that is sung in the Malinke language. The dancers perform intricate polyrhythmic footwork in which the legs stretch outwardly from the knee, as counterpoint to quick rotations of the wrist. The dance begins quietly in song and builds to a crescendo of exuberance. Tyi Wara is an ancient homage to farming. The purpose is to invoke the blessing of the mystical creature Tyi Wara on the daily contest between the Bambana people of Mali and the stubborn soil. The Bambana people believe that they were put in contact with all the elements of the universe through agriculture.
The art of text improvisation is important and text can be changed to fit the occasion. There is not one specific song that is used for Mandiani everywhere it is performed, but one such song is an agricultural song that is sung in the call-and-response mode, which is used after a day’s work in the fields or following the harvest. The basic posture for the Mandiani dance is with the knees bent and the upper body inclined forward at the waist (a forward pelvic tilt). The “triplet” is a rapid three-steps sequence seen in the Mandiani dance.
African dance by Kariamu Welsh-Asante