By Kariamu Welsh-Asante
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Extra resources for African dance
It jumps and swirls around the dance floor and is exciting to watch. The figure can grow and diminish during performance. The Takai dancers of Ghana carry an iron rod, and wear leather boots and a betekele ensemble (flowing robe and trousers with an elongated seat). The dancers perform a group dance in circles and strike their iron rods to create music. The dancers pivot and the robe and pants flow creating a design in space, similar to an umbrella that is opened and then twirled. The dance is percussively pulsated by the stamping of the feet and the striking together of the iron rods.
MASK AND MASQUERADE DANCES Mask dances are dances that utilize a mask and/or a full-body covering that conceals and hides the identity of the dancers so that the focus is on the figure. Mask dances can represent a figure or force from a secret society and secrecy becomes even more important on those occasions. q 3/25/04 8:34 PM Page 46 46 AFRICAN DANCE mask dancers often perform on stilts. The dancer performing the mask dance can wear a helmet-type headdress that also covers the face and these helmets can extend a couple of feet into the air.
An intriguing aspect of the dance is the rapid change of rhythmic and step patterns from phrase to phrase, sometimes marked by punctuating pauses in the movement flow. Ibo women perform Itu nkwe as a coquettish walk-dance, which is a solo superimposition of impromptu, rhythmically free dance maneuvers over strict tempo rendition and group choreography. There are certain conventions that determine how far the soloist can go. The solo performer only interacts with those with whom she is closely acquainted.