Selected Dances from Uganda

Makanda, Fred Wasma. Selected dances from Uganda. In: Dagan, Esther A. (Ed.). 1997. The spirit’s dance in Africa. Montreal: Galerie Amrad African Arts Publication.

Abstract by Anne-Kathrin Horstmann

In Uganda, where more than eight million people live and more than 30 languages are spoken, the cultural diversity and thriving traditions of music and dance are many. The 11 selected dances which are described below are only a small sample of the dance diversity in Uganda.

  1. Bwola Dance
    The Bwola Dance is a royal dance of the Acholi people in Northern Uganda which is danced by less than 50 people. It was performed to celebrate the installation of a new chief but today it is performed to entertain guests at important functions.
  2. Larakaraka Dance
    The Larakaraka Dance is a wooing dance performed by the youth of the Acholi and Gulu people in Northern Uganda. The boys provide the music while the girls dance in linear formations.
  3. Dingi-Dingi Dance
    The Dingi-Dingi Dance is also a dance of the Acholi people in Northern Uganda and is performed by an odd number of dancers and a captain. The boys provide the music while the girls dance linear and circular formations depending on the rhythm.
  4. Mwanga Dance
    The Mwanga Dance is performed by a tribe in Eastern Uganda (Mbale District) as a circumcision dance during the initiation ceremonies. It is danced by one experienced elder and young women. Today it is performed on other occasions.
  5. Tarrienha Ibuga Dance
    This dance is a dance of the Basoga people in Eastern Uganda which is performed for general entertainment by both men and women who dance with skilful waist movements to music of traditional instruments.
  6. Naleyo Dance
    Tha Naleyo Dance is a wooing dance of the youth of the Karimojong people in North Estern Uganda. It is performed in two linear lines. One for the men and one for the women facing each other and is characterised by high jumps.
  7. Bakisimba Dance
    This dance is performed by the Baganda in the Central Region and was a Baganda royal court dance in the oldern days. Today it is danced on several social occasions for general entertainment mainly by women concentrating on the waist movements and foot work.
  8. Embaga Dance and Nansaka
    This is a wedding dance of the Baganda people in the Central Region of Uganda which is performed at weddings and other social functions. The main emphasis is on the hip movements and purposeful gestures.
  9. Ekitaguriro Dance
    This dance of the Banyankole people in South Western Uganda is performed at all social occasions by men and women to show local wealth. The dancers move their feet to the rhythm of the music punctuated by singing and jumping.
  10. Runyege Dance
    This dance is a traditional dance of the Banyoro people from the Masindi Disrict which is danced by men wearing foot rattles and women wearing rings around their waists and is characterised by vigorous foot stamping.
  11. Agwara Dance
    The Agwara Dance is performed in North Western Uganda by the Alur people from both men and women at social occasions. The dancers follow the rhythm of the drums dancing linear and circular formations with characterised leg and waist movements while wearing ankle bells.


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