The Natural Bends in "African Dance"

The essential body position dominating most African dances is based on one key principle, rather than well-defined positions. The principle is: The Natural Bends of all body joints. The degree of each joints bends depends on the natural physical ability of each individual dancer. Thus the essential body position in African dance emerges in endless variations, but the common principle is: The Natural Bends.

Characteristics: loose, flexed, bent joints on solidly grounded, naturally parallel feet often spread apart.

Wakamba Boys from Kenya,  dancing... in demonstration of some of the "Natural Bends"

Movement emphasis: combination of angular, linear and rounded, mainly horizontal, tending to aim downward and inward. In natural harmony with each dancer's physical ability, with freedom of mobility except for dancers carrying masks.

The advantages of this genial principle is that the natural bends provide the dancer with the freedom in their choice of movement, drawn from a large repertoire of natural movement vocabulary unlimited options for variation, combination and improvisation. Moreover, the natural bends allow each individual in the community to perform the dance up to their ability. Therefore, dance is Africa is accessible to everyone.

(excerpt from the book "The Spirit's Dance in Africa" by Esther A. Dagan)

© BaKari Ifasegun Lindsay 2013