Stories of dance around the world
“Dance is meditation in motion.”
The more you move around the world, you will see that people differ in many ways, especially in the way they move and dance. Humans across the world share the same body of two hands and two legs, The huge spectrum of dance forms created by movements of the same body, always leaves us awestruck. Every dance tells us a story about its people, what they believed in and what expression meant for them.
Today, we look at the stories of few dance forms, some famous, some not so famous, and peek into what it tells us about the history of the local cultures where these forms were born.
We start with Hip Hop because of its universality. Hip Hop in itself is a culture with 5 parts – MCing, DJing, Breakdance, Graffiti, and Knowledge. The essence of Hip Hop is in rebel and how it stems from the oppressed or the poor communities of a culture, who channel their raw energy and anger, to revolutionize societies. Though hip-hop style for each country or even city is unique, the spirit of Hip Hop is something every hip hop artist around the world shares. If you find Hip Hop artists in a city, their language will tell you a different story of the brotherhood. Hip hop artists from Mumbai, India, the city to host the largest slum in Asia, speak a lot about hunger, poverty, friendship, the feeling of community, anger towards political figures and love towards parents. These values are also an important part of the Indian culture. Their dance is assertive and aggressive. It speaks for rights and revolutions. If you move towards African hip hop, they speak a lot about their status, their history, love within the blacks, the solidarity they share, and their individual pride. Their dance is a level of sass, most of us will never be able to achieve. Their art and this medium is so significant and important to them that it is not wrong to say that they are “twerking their problems away”. Each city speaks a different vocabulary, a different expression and yet the same spirit of the oppressed rising up and quitting to be quiet across the world.
This magnificent art form is considered to be a combination of music, dance and martial arts. It holds with it the values of interdependence and non-violence. Originally, it was simply a form of acrobatics or martial arts. However, it’s routines and movements were never used as a medium to hurt or attack anyone, but simply to express one’s freedom and at the same time their interdependence with the group. You need a minimum of 2 people and maximum to perform Capoeira. It is a complicated blend of sharp hand movements, inverted kicks and a constant flow of movements in relation to the ground or your co-dancers. Touching the ground is a common and frequent part of the routine, showing how close it is to nature and its roots. It was created by enslaved Africans in Brazil in the beginning of the 16th century. The performers sing, play instruments , move and dance to express and share their tales. Today, you are likely to find Capoeira groups and artists in countries all across the world.
Most dance forms have footwork unique to their style, but whacking is all about the hands. If you spend even two hours working on waacking dance movements, you won’t be able to hold a pen the next day. With sharp and perpendicular hand movements, the dance form will surprise you with how much you can do with your hands. It was born during the disco era of 1970s in the LGBT clubs of Los Angeles. The term ‘whack’ refers to striking something with a sharp blow and the essence of the dance form is to keep a sharp and strong stance, while being graceful and elegant at the same time. It was everything the community believed in – expressing, staying true to your identity and striking or attacking with strength and grace. The dance form blends its hand movements with elements of pose work, flaunting and basic footwork.
Kecak Trance Dance
Kerak, like many others, is a story-telling dance form. It incorporates multiple elements of drama to narrate stories without the use of any words. Originated in Indonesia , it is a Balinese Hindu dance and music drama The dance form was born in the 1930s when it was performed only by men. But the dance form evolved with the world around it, with a women Kecak group springing up in 2006. When performed, it can have more than 150 dancers on stage. It is often used to depict the stories of the Hindu Epic ‘Ramayana’ and can be broken into performances that last for weeks of evening entertainment. The roots of this dance form are sanghyang, which used to be a trance inducing or exorcism based dance form. The music of Kecak is a soft soothing and lyrics-less tune that pushes you into a meditative state of worship and devotion.
Hopak is a Ukrainian dance form that originated as a male dance form. It soon evolved for couples, mixed dance groups but yet with an essence of masculinity defining it. It is used in larger performance forms such as theatre, opera or ballet. The energetic, cheerful dance is characterized with a lot of playful jumping and hoping. It is an expression of amazement, surprise and fascination. Being a festive form of dance, it is performed in groups by amateur dancers who can move to any kind of tempo and music and are not limited by the kind of music playing. It celebrates a sense of heroism and spontaneity.
No matter where you go, you will find dance. It is as if the human body knew it was simply supposed to move, to express and to celebrate it’s existence in a community through dancing. We all chose to dance, but in ways so different, we could talk about it all day. An enriching travel experience will include food, sightseeing and dancing to the beats of the cultures you are visiting. To look at how people dance, is to truly understand them at their most raw, beautiful and expressive form.
Thanks for reading.
Have a good day!
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