By Elizabeth A. Hanley
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Additional resources for African Dance, 2nd Edition (World of Dance)
The song either serves as accompaniment to the story and myth dances or is performed as an actual part of the story. Storytelling is a powerful element that combines historical, educational, political, and social understandings. Malissadio is based on a Guinean myth in which a beautiful village girl falls in love with Mali, the river god to whom she was promised at birth, and kills herself when the young hunter who desires her kills the hippopotamus-headed god. The Bell of Hamana is a story-dance from the Hamana area of Guinea.
The dances that are described in this text are a small fraction of the dances that exist in the region. Documentation of the dances of Africa remains a challenge. While it is a given that dance is pervasive and integral to African cultures, it is seldom a priority to document because of more pressing issues such as poverty, health, and education. Consequently, the dances continue to be passed on traditionally until more documentation in the forms of videos, DVDs, and written text is available. Stilt Dances Stilt dances are dances that are performed on wooden stumps that elevate the dancer high into the air.
The role of dance in African culture is central to any study, understanding, and appreciation of Africa. Dances in African cultures are multifunctional and serve as a window into the ways in which many societies conduct and live their lives. West African dances run the gamut from stilt dances to funeral dances. Many of these dances pay homage to ancestors in some way. The dances that are described in this text are a small fraction of the dances that exist in the region. Documentation of the dances of Africa remains a challenge.