A dance for every season in Mozambique

Koziorowska, Jotanta 1997. “A Dance for every season in Mozambique”. In: Dagan, Esther (ed.). The Spirit’s Dance in Afrika. Montreal: Galerie Amrad African Arts Publication.

Abstract by Andrea Wolvers

Dance is a very old concept in Mozambican life being performed at every important occasion as for example initiation ceremonies, weddings, harvesting, military activities or exorcism ceremonies. Movements with the torso and the pelvis are very common among different dances.

The Mapiko dance belonging to the Makonde sacred dance, is performed during initiation rites at the edge of the forests, from where the bad spirits come that shall be kept away. This dance is performed to celebrate military victories and was introduced to Mozambique by Nguni warriors. During the dance different phases of a battle are illustrated, accompanied by a rhythm played by drums.

The Nsope dance which is a manifestation of joy is a dance performed by women with a rope. The female dancers are dressed in traditional cloths called Capulanas. They dance in a line and skip the rope while one after another jumps the rope with rhythmical movements. They also sing songs at the same time. The Msaho dance is a very special one performed by Chopi warriors and accompanied by 18 to 23 Timbilas, a kind of xylophone. Each dance is divided into eleven different parts where there is singing, instrument playing and dancing in different combinations. The songs are poem-like and express important social and political problems and also deal with difficulties of daily life. The Makwayela dance is a miners’ dance which is very famous in Mozambique and has ancient roots. It was a protest form against exploitation, racism and apartheid; today it supports different political activities. The dance is performed by men and women wearing festive dresses. Symbolic gestures play an important role, for example when the dancers point at their heads it means “we think as one”.


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