Africa, Ethiopia

ESKISTA DANCE, ETHIOPIA: ‘Dancing Shoulders’ imitating a Snake

Eskista is an African dance renowned for using ‘intense shoulder movements’”’ is an African dance form known as.

This rather “complex” dance is said to have originated from Ethiopia, a country located in Northeast Africa in a region called the “Horn of Africa”.

The Eskista Dance going viral

This dance is essentially known for body movements that include rolling of the shoulder blade and jilting of the chest. Furthermore, this dance is considered to be more “technical” than most of the African dances. 

In addition, this dance is generally performed to traditional “Ethiopian music”.

What is the meaning of Eskista?

Eskista is a traditional Ethiopian dance that originated in the Amhara and Tigrai regions. The word “Eskista” means “shaking the shoulders” in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.

This dance is characterized by rapid shoulder movements and jerky, rhythmic motions of the head, neck, and upper body. It is typically performed to traditional Ethiopian music and is an integral part of the country’s culture and heritage.

Eskista is often performed at weddings, religious festivals, and other celebratory events, and it has gained popularity outside of Ethiopia in recent years as a unique and captivating dance style.

Where did the Eskista dance originate?

History and origin of Eskista dance:

A common Ethiopian legend states that this dance was created by observing and then imitating the movements made by a snake. Apparently, it is said that Ethiopians very acutely observed that a snake always shook the neck area in a specific manner while dancing to the tune of music.

It was this neck movement observed in a snake that was then used as a template to create this dance which was eventually named “Eskita” which means “dancing shoulders”.

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What is the purpose of the Eskista dance?

Eskista is a traditional Ethiopian dance that has been passed down through generations and continues to be an important cultural tradition in Ethiopia today.

It is often performed at weddings, religious festivals, and other festive occasions to bring people together in a spirit of joy and celebration.

The dance also helps preserve Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage and is seen as a way to honor and celebrate the country’s traditions.

Aside from its entertainment value and cultural significance, Eskista is a powerful form of expression and communication. The dance movements and gestures often convey emotions and tell stories, allowing performers to connect with their audience on a deeper level.

Through Eskista, dancers can express their feelings of joy, love, or sorrow, and convey messages of hope and unity, making it a dynamic and multifaceted cultural tradition.

Costumes used in the Eskista dance:

The costume worn by the performers (both male and female) is a traditional Ethiopian dress made from wool called “Gabbi or netella”. Furthermore, this traditional dress is painted using different colours depending on the gender of the performer.

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Music involved in the Eskista dance:

The music involved in this dance form is mainly traditionally “Ethiopian” in its essence. So the musical instruments essentially used include chordophones, aerophones, idiophones and membranophones.

How is Eskista performed?

Training availability and technique involved in the Eskista dance:

In terms of technique, this dance requires the performers (both males and females) to move their head, neck, chest, and shoulders in a particular manner in tune with the traditional Ethiopian music that is played. As for training centers and schools, there are none available around the world since this “complicated” dance is mainly performed exclusively in Ethiopia.

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