Dance is a from of self expression.  It’s when you hear a beat, and the rhythm flows through your body.  It’s an art that allows us to visually see the feelings from sound. It’s beautiful and a powerful sense of community.  There are many dance styles that we know and love today which originated from Black Culture and Africa.  Let’s take a moment to highlight of few dance genres and their roots in honour and celebration of Black History Month.

African (Afro) Dance

Afro dance, also known as African dance, derives from many different tribes and nations across Africa. For most tribes, dance was more than a form of entertainment, it was apart of many rituals, a form of prayer, and a right of passage. Many African tribes would have someone who’s dedicated role was to pass down the tribe’s traditional dances. Through the slave trade, Africans brought their traditional dances to America, Europe and parts of South America where they inspired and influenced other dance moves and even entire genres like the Charleston, tap dancing, the twist and many more!


Kizomba is a genre of dance and music that was born in Angola.  Kizomba was derived from the word Kimbundu meaning “party”.  Kimbundu is a language spoken in Angola by the ethnic group called Bandu, and influenced by Portuguese.  This dance style comes from semba, which is a combination of Angolan Merengue and the tribal Kilapanda Dance.  The difference between Kilapanda and Kizomba is although Kizomba can be performed as a solo dance, it is most commonly performed as a partner dance, where both dancers do a two step movement in halftime to music that resembles Latin Merengue.


Stepping is a dance style that started in South Africa.  When Europeans discovered the gold and diamonds mines they forced African men to work in the mines.  When miners began to get ulcers and skin infections on their feet, the mine owners gave the miners rubber gumboots to wear.  The miners were not allowed to speak to each other in the dark mines, so they began to communicate by stomping their feet and slapping the rubber gumboots with their hands.  This gumboot dance eventually became a form of entertainment, as the Africans would make drum like beats.  Even when times were hard, these resilient African men kept their sprits up with this form of dance.  Today, this dance team is done by many Black Greek organizations in American colleges, drill teams and church youth groups.

Hip Hop Dance

Hip Hop dance originally was inspired by African dancing and performed in the streets on New York in the 1960s and 1970s. The west coast also adapted and inspired their own style of Hip Hop dancing around the same time.  In New York, Kool DJ Herc started mixing songs and extending dance sections within the songs to allow the display of break dancing. The West Coast, took these moves and made it their own by making the dances even more robotic, like popping and locking.

Jazz Dance

You may be used to seeing jazz danced on the stages of Broadway, but it’s roots lay deep within Africa.  The rhythms and movements of jazz dance was brought to America by African slaves.  Similar to it African dance roots, the style of jazz dance is low, knees bent, pulsating body movements, emphasized by body isolations and hand clapping. Jazz dance gained more popularity as big bands started playing the music during the swing era during of the 1930s & 40s. This style of dance developed in both the 19th and 20th centuries on stage and in traditional Black social dances.



Filed under: black-history-month