By Evang John Unogwu Oche
Across the globe, dance has been a central feature of human behaviour and culture for all religions, creeds, societies and ethnic groups. Websters Advance Learners Dictionary defined dance as “a sequence of rhythmic steps or movements usually performed to music, for pleasure or as a form of social interaction.” The origin of dance could be traced to the old French dancer about 12th to 14th century which became the modern French word known as ‘danser’ meaning to dance. The word came from Frankish dintjan which is of uncertain origin. The old English word for dance is Sealtian, related to Latin Saltare, which means dance came from Salire, to leap, and which is the same Latin root with that of the Saltarello, a Spanish/Italian dance for one couple characterized by leaps and skips (Cassells etymological Dictionary).
These expressions and descriptions of dance imagery are part of the cultural history of dance and life which illustrate the richly textured relationships between people and societies, with dance and dancing. The varied ways that dance features in metaphors and common expressions emphasise that dance has been a deeply symbolic concept for many years in the English language, and therefore life itself. Dance is as old as man himself. Everyone dance consciously or unconsciously. Dancing occupies a prominent position in African societies; it is an old practice in which all members of society; from the king to the hunter, soldier, women, children and everyone engages together. Dance circles may seem almost chaotic, yet there is a sense of organization. One of the most important features of African dancing is that it’s a group activity; you need a lot of dancers and therefore a nice bond is established between each member of the dancing circle. Dancing is thus a form of creative expression of love, courage and beauty. Recognizing its importance to the world, April 29 of every year was designated as a world International Dance Day, to mark the birth of the French dancer Jean-Georges Noverre who was born in 1727-1810. Noverre was a dancer and choreographer and he established some of the foundations of ballet. The importance of this day comes from the universal desire to forget and let go, even for a little while, the pressures of everyday life especially the political nuisances. The World Dance Council urges governments to establish places for dancing and teaching it at various educational levels.
Dance is as important as music, singing and poetry because it stimulates the full interaction between the music and the rhythm of the body, and that in turn helps to enhance memory and decrease depression as well as make the body more flexible. We can also describe dance as the ability to use the body to interact with music, cultural and aesthetic memories to create a combination of signs and signals that can bypass traditional narrative. Dancing can be used to tell stories of war, friendships and express the appreciation of cultural values. The great dancers in each tribe are considered brave warriors, because dancing for every tribe, especially in Nigeria is a space for freedom and interaction and it connects different generations and experiences. Dance and Peace-building could be seen from Okanga’s dancing steps. Okanga deliberately deployed various dancing steps knowing its role in peace-building and development; especially folk dance. Peace-building is known as “infrastructural and structural establishments that assist conflicted parties in crossing over from a state of conflict to a state of peace” (Erica Rose Jeffrey). The absence of war or conflict does not necessarily mean the presence of peace. The tolerance and acceptance of different communities and the absence of violence in all its forms and the abundance of respect means that there is peace, and it’s much needed at this time especially in this political campaign season in Nigeria as a whole and Enone in particular. Agila people are known with the performance of folkloric dancing in many events with the most important feature being the interaction between the past, present and future. Children, youth, and elderly people dance together in wonderful harmony and in the dancing circle one feels indescribable joy.
Okanga realizes the power and the solid presence of dance culture in our societies, which we must work to raise citizens’ awareness of the need for peaceful coexistence through the ability of dancing to promote freedom and cooperation between him and Enone people. He knows that this linkage can help people establish and strengthen bonds with each other. Okanga is leading the way for Dance for peace starting from Agila down to the whole of Enone. Okanga is not oblivious of the fact that dance and human civilization are bonded together since the beginning of the human race. With centuries passing by, dance has become one of the important tools for recreation, entertainment, health, preserving social interactions, religious ceremonies, and also in celebrating events etc. Dancing also served as a way of expressing human thoughts and emotions and also as a means of communication, initiation of peace and development. These days, people chose dancing for various purposes like continuing the family legacy, improving the physical and mental health, as an occupation etc. With the increasing demand in creativity, dance forms also emerged quickly, and now in the present day, we have different dance forms based on different regions, cultures, religions, etc. Dance has been a part of human culture since the very earliest communities and civilisations, with recorded evidence of dancing being found dating back to over 30,000 years ago. Since then, different dances have changed, merged and evolved into what we know today as the most well-known dance genres. Here in this article, we show you different types of popular dances present in the world. There are; ballet, ballroom, contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, tap dance, folk dance, Irish dance, modern dance, swing dance, tea dance, sword dance, disc dance, toe dance, country dance, belly dance, barn dance, saraband dance, pavane dance, schottische dance, polka dance, waltz dance, valeta dance, afro dance, tarantella dance, bolero dance, fandango dance, cotillion dance, galliard dance, ecossaise dance, gavotte dance, quadrille dance, charleston dance, two-step dance, pasa-doble dance, tango dance, rumba dance, samba dance, mambo dance, choreography dance, solo dance, pas de deux dance, chasse dance, glissade dance, arabesque dance, jitterbug dance, fouette dance, plie dance, pirouette dance, rotation dance, entrechat and several others too numerous to mention.
The potency of dance was undoubtedly seen in 2007 documentary of war/dance in Patongo, Uganda, where dance was used to quench the effect of the war in the minds of the people. Similarly, Brazil’s favelas 2005 dance was instrumental to the peace recorded after the war which started in the year 1987 to 2001. France Schott-Billmann, a scholar and dance therapist, advocates for rhythm dance therapy as a healing tool between individuals of opposing communities in Israel/Palestine crisis. Okanga believes that while time is the greatest healer, dance have the power to expose that ultimate feeling of peace and wellbeing in moments across the healing journey, injecting life force into hearts that have been tyrannized by pain. His recent rallies to officially declared his intention to run for the position of Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency witnessed Okanga’s dancing steps which was a new phenomenon in the political history solely introduced for the purpose of unity, peace and development of Enone. He had carefully and intentionally exploited this particular avenue starting from Ado Local Government to Okpokwu Local Government and down to Ogbadibo Local Government. His entrance into the Enone race had brought many new and good initiatives that were completely alien in our political evolution. He has set an example for others to copy without giving him a proper acknowledgment. The law guiding plagiarism holds that when you copy anything from anybody, deems it fit to give credit to that person but we had seen recently after Okanga’s outing, many aspirants are now forced to dance in a political rallies without thanking the great Okanga by giving him his due credit for the wonderful initiative. They forgot that there is no competition in life and destiny, although good thing needs to be copied but when doing that remember to always acknowledge the inventor if not you will be seen as an ingrate. One thing i know for sure is, whether you emulate Okanga’s dancing steps or not, the great Chief cannot be compared with any aspirants in the whole of Enone. Therefore, for him to continue the good dance there is no any other way for Enone people to reward this young talented dancer (Okanga), other than coming out in their numbers and vote for him come 2023.