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All You Need To Know About Adowa Dance

Adowa Dance is one of the most popular styles practiced in Ghana. It apparently belongs to a tribal community in the country known as ‘Ashanti‘ or ‘Asante‘ who are a part of the Akan ethnic group. Now, the obvious question that needs to be asked is, what exactly is this dance form? Here is then presenting an analysis highlighting the facts that you need to know about this unique West African dance style.

What is the meaning behind Adowa dance?

The Adowa dance is a traditional dance style from Ghana that is often performed at funerals and other cultural events. The dance has deep cultural significance and carries important symbolic meaning for the people who perform it. In traditional Ghanaian culture, the Adowa dance is seen as a way of honoring ancestors and celebrating their memory. The dance is believed to have originated from the Ashanti people, who saw it as a way of communicating with their ancestors and invoking their blessings.The movements and gestures of the Adowa dance are steeped in symbolism, with each movement representing a particular aspect of life or culture.

Adowa Dancers
An Adowa performance

a. Where is Adowa dance originated from?

The Adowa dance is a traditional dance style that originated from the Ashanti people of Ghana. The Ashanti people are one of the major ethnic groups in Ghana, and their cultural traditions have had a significant impact on the country’s music, dance, and arts. The Adowa dance has evolved and become a popular form of cultural expression throughout Ghana and the wider West African region. Its movements, music, and symbolism continue to be celebrated and preserved by people of all ages and backgrounds, and it remains an important part of Ghana’s cultural heritage.

b. Adowa Dance Music, What does it entail?

‘Polyrhythmic Accents’ is what the music accompanying Adowa comprises of. The instruments used includes mainly drums and bell. In addition, the lyrics written generally express the social and moral values of the Ghanaian society. Some of the drums used are atumpan, apentemma, petia, brenko, and donno. While bells used include: dawuru and atoke. Additionally, this dance is performed in ‘compound triple time’ with the beat of the drums comprising of an interesting mix ‘syncopation and cross-rhythms’.

c. Adowa Dance costume, What do they include?

The costume worn by the dancer while performing Adowa includes, a piece of cloth wrapped around the body from the chest right up to the knees. In the case of women, a red or black cloth is tied around the head. Furthermore, jewelry is mainly worn around head, shoulders, upper arms, wrists, knees, and ankles. In addition, performers also carry an handkerchief either coloured or dark depending on the occasion. For example, a dark coloured handkerchief is generally carried only during funerals.

d. How is the Adowa dance done?

The movements and gestures of the Adowa dance are steeped in symbolism and carry deep cultural meaning. They may include footwork, body movements, hand gestures, and clapping, all performed in time with the beat of the music.

‘Hands and feet’ are mainly used by the dancer while performing Adowa. The basic steps of this unique dance style are as follows:

  1. Firstly, the performer needs to apply pressure and move his/her right foot forward.
  2. Secondly, these movements made by the dancer must be exaggerated and not just simple.
  3. Finally, the performer during the performance must ensure that there is an interaction with the drummer that is not obvious.In addition, a sad facial expression generally needs to be exhibited by the dancer.

e.  Adowa Dance YouTube Video:

If, you intend to now watch the Adowa Dance after having read a few facts about it, here is then presenting a YouTube Video illustrating how it is done.

Thus, Adowa is essentially a typical West African dance which involves the use of feet, hands, and lots of drum play to accompany it.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons and Wikimedia Commons

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