Dance refers to a styled and patterned body movement that is usually performed to music. Dance should serve the purpose of communication or living expression. Dance as an art medium has been as perennial as the cedar. In various parts of the world, dance means different things to people. In recent decades, inexhaustible dance styles have spread across continents like wildfire.
The African continent has enjoyed its own fair share of dance fashion. Since it has become imperative that dance goes along with music, dance fairs have been organized in all corners of Africa.
In West Africa, Nigeria has proven to be the center of the dance revolution. In recent times, every crack in Nigeria has created a new style of dance. The intrusion of a challenging dance culture in Nigeria is not a coincidence. Nigeria, as a geographical entity, is surrounded by French-speaking West African neighbors on its borders. These francophone nations have previously enjoyed a very stable dance culture. In the late 1990s, the governments of several West African countries banned a dance called mapouka for its excessive sexual content. It is pertinent to note that the Mapouka dance originated in the Ivory Coast, another French-speaking West African country.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the makossa dance’s dizzying visitation swept across the African continent like a volcano. The makossa dance step conquered virtually all African nations, including Nigeria. The makossa dance, which originated in a certain French-speaking West African country, was Nigeria’s most imported product at the time (late 1990s and early 2000s). Makossa dance involved all Nigerian children, youth and adults in various ways. It became so fashionable that it eliminated the galala dance step, which was the choice of the masses whenever a party was thrown.
Before the advent of the makossa dance, the galala dance was the official dance in all Nigerian ghetto communities. This dance style was heavily promoted by prominent Nigerian acts who happen to be descendants of the ghetto community. Some notable acts who rose to prominence for the galala cause include Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo, and African China.
When the makossa dance gained impressive recognition and loud acclaim in the country, the suo dance began to take its toll. Suo dance gradually replaced makossa dance, paving the way for its entry into the Nigerian entertainment scene. I thought suo dance would enjoy a long reign as the official ghetto dance style of Nigeria. The suo dance that was showcased and promoted by artists such as Danfo Drivers (crazy melon and black mountain), Marvelous Benjy et al. it involved lowering from the waist and swaying movements of the hands like someone about to start up a generator set.
Before I could say ‘Jack’, my thoughts were shown to be mere carelessness. The yahoozee era had dawned in every city in Nigeria. The yahoozee dance style had some negative intonations; It was alleged that it was a dance style founded by internet swindlers and swindlers popularly known in the suburbs of Nigeria as Yahoo Boys. The reign of dance poured over all Nigerians like a torrential downpour. From kindergartens to colleges, the Nigerian people did the yahoozee dance with a sense of vigor. Nigerian singer, Olu Keep, adopted this dance style as a trademark and repackaged yahoozee into a brand. The very goofy-looking dance contains a lot of hand movements while the feet remain fairly still.
Once again I thought that the Nigerian population would run out of ideas, but I was proven wrong. The Atalanta breeze has slowly but surely infiltrated every social function in Nigeria. Churches, entertainment venues, workplaces and dance shows have caught Atalanta fever. From rural to urban areas, they have all towed the Atalanta line. The movement of hands and legs produces a spectacle of madness. In the last African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2010) organized by Angola, Nigerian football masters such as Peter Osaze Odemwingie and Obafemi Akinwunmi Martins danced the Atalanta at various times in celebration of their goals. Nigerian musicians such as Artquake, Terry G, Timaya, TuFace Idibia and Ruggedman have also been proud exports of Alanta culture.
As I write, many dance steps are emerging in various parts of Nigeria. I would suggest that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism investigate the dance market and try to design strategies to exploit this market. If the dance industry is properly exploited, then Nigeria could start to enjoy the influx of tourists to the country.
Indeed, Nigerian dance culture has proven to be an intricate part of the Nigerian entertainment industry. It has come to stay and probably grow.