In cultures all over the world, you are sure to witness the art of dancing expressed in varied actions. All dance forms involve a lot of bodily gestures that communicate the message of strength, admiration, joy, humor, luck, love or even sorrow.
In Ghana, there are many exclusive traditional dances like Adowa, Kpalogo, Apatampa, Damba, Agbaza, Borborbor etc. These dances are exhibited on occasions like festivals, durbars, naming ceremonies, puberty rites and funerals.
However, today we will learn about Adowa, the traditional dance of the Ashanti people. The Adowa dance form serves as a means of communication and entertainment. Adowa is characterized by graceful walking movements, intricate footworks and hand gestures coupled with subtle bowing and twisting of the body. The gestures that are made while dancing Adowa have specific meanings. Below are five of the most used gestures and their meanings.
- Dancer flexes left hand to the left and right hand to the right and brings both arms to the chest crossed. This gesture is interpreted as The whole land is under my control (symbol of authority- danced by Chiefs unless dance by a dance group)
- Dancer wails and flexes both hands up and forward slightly apart. This gesture means I am pitifully left alone.
- Dancer forms a closed ring with the middle finger and thumb. This means Are you married?
- Dancer puts index finger in mouth. This gesture means Admiration of the beauty of female dance partner.
- Dancer brings one hand into an upward facing palm in an up and down consistent movement. This is interpreted as Please forgive me.
Watch a video of Adowa and see how it is danced.
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