By Kariamu Welsh-Asante
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Both dancing and drumming require accompaniment. Dancing demands physical involvement, while drumming demands human participation. q 3/25/04 8:27 PM Page 32 32 AFRICAN DANCE other words, the use of the human body is required in both dancing and drumming. Rather than the material separation of the arts from each other and the physical distinctions between the played and the player, African culture relies upon a holistic integration that encourages the collective and the communal. As a real and rational entity, rhythm is permanently ensconced in a tradition that is dynamic and vital.
In dance, the circle may be large and open or small and tightly closed, with the dancers holding hands or linking arms. Large or small, the circle represents eternity and continuity. It is integrally connected to the idea of the perpetuation of generations and their progeny. All living creatures tend to move in nonlinear ways and everywhere in the world people have traditional dances that are circular. Snakes are generally perceived to represent the circle because of their ability to coil and connect their heads with their tails.
The dancers flick their wrists so the scarves move in accordance with the flicking action. The scarves are used throughout the dance; they are waved, furled, and unfurled. The significance is not the design in space or the color but the signal—which can be seen in the waving of the scarves—that alerts the community that the girl has come of age. The passing of the scarf through the palm shows that the scarf is being presented as proof of the coming of age. MASK AND MASQUERADE DANCES Mask dances are dances that utilize a mask and/or a full-body covering that conceals and hides the identity of the dancers so that the focus is on the figure.
African dance by Kariamu Welsh-Asante