Welcome to “Black Friday” where we highlight the beauty, strength and athleticism of black dancers, choreographers, and dance companies. We hope that this effort will shine a light on the beauty and diversity of dance.
“Black Dance is Beautiful”
Black dance, and specifically African Dance, has been around for many years. Although it is not common knowledge, many people understand that black dance was used for liberation, communication and enjoyment.
“Slave dance to banjo, 1780s” by Anonymous – http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume3/images/OldPlantLg.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
“Based upon the spoken language, African dance is a source of communication through which it is possible to demonstrate emotions, beliefs, everyday life activities and other reactions through movement. Love, hatred, joy, sorrow, courage, fear, and all other emotions are expressed through rhythmic movements. ” All About African Dance
When different groups of slaves were brought to this country, they would use song and dance as a way to communicate to each other, share stories and their histories, enact a form of resistance and to enjoy their limited freedom. It should be noted that slave-masters would often force the slaves to perform these songs and dances aboard slave ships in order for exercise (source).
“Africans were forced to dance on deck for exercise. Many took advantage of this to bond and communicate with their shipmates by dancing steps remembered from their past in Africa. This was to continue in the Americas in dances, religious ceremonies and other musical forms that used cultural traditions from Africa. One such dance was the limbo in the Caribbean.” Legacies of Slavery: Dance by Dr. Alan Rice
Dances like the limbo, cakewalk, and the ring shout are just a few of the dances that were directly brought from African across the Atlantic. This historical, cultural aspect of the black arts has been passed down through generations culminating in the black dance we have today.
It is important to remember that black dance is not only a contemporary aspect of the black arts, but a historical one also.
For more information on the History of Black Dance, check out these resources:
African Dance (New World Encyclopedia): http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/African_dance