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By Kariamu Welsh-Asante

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Sample text

Dances from Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal are the most numerous in this text because scholars have done more research and documentation in these countries. q 3/25/04 8:34 PM Page 39 been done on West African dance because of the region’s relatively close proximity to Europe and the United States. In addition, in recent years, many West Africans have come to study, work, and live in Europe and the United States, and have brought with them their cultural dances. These descriptions offer a glimpse into African culture and its dances.

RITES-OF-PASSAGE DANCES The rites-of-passage dances or initiation dances often represent a child or adolescent’s transition or even transformation into early man or womanhood. The dances range from detailed footwork all the way to a swing of the hips. The aesthetic qualities of the dances vary greatly from ethnic group and dances are often more than just figurative representations, often times they suggest an actual change in status or transformation from childhood to manhood or womanhood. N’Goron is an initiation dance from the Ivory Coast for young women who are about to enter adulthood.

The dance is usually performed as a communal event with everyone participating. There is no audience per se but rather an interchangeable arrangement that allows dancers to ebb and flow into the dance, and to change roles and play instruments. There is no fixed part of the event and the musicians can quickly change and play another role. In contemporary times, traditional dance has been used to entertain dignitaries and heads of states and celebrate national holidays, which has had a great impact on the dance.

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