Traditional African dance: videos from streaming databases
Keep the Dance Alive (Dance in Video database) / Documentary Educational Resources, 2007 - music, dance and spirit possession practices of the southern African Ovahimba people of northwestern Namibia and southwestern Angola. (75 min.)
Bushmen (three films) / Films on Demand and Filmaker's Library databases, 2002-2006 - dance-related scenes depicting Bushmen of southern Africa appear in the Healing Dance (Namibia) segment (8:46 min.) of Spirits of the Rocks: the Culture of the San Bushpeople of South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia (Triluna Films; Films for the Humanities & Sciences via Films on Demand, 2002; 79 min.), the Hadzabe Traditional Dance (Tanzania) segment (1:12 min.) in Last of the Bushmen of the Kalahari and Tanzania (Anako Productions; Films for the Humanities & Sciences via Films on Demand, 2004; 52 min.), and at timepoint 20:20 in Bushmen of the Kalahari (Springbok Films & The Tribal Trust Foundation via Filmaker's Library, 2006; 56 min.). A portion of the Bushmen of the Kalahari transcript follows (click to enlarge):
Sufi dance (three films, Films on Demand database) / 2004 and 2010 - Sufis, members of a branch of Islam, are shown in the Sudan (east Africa), Cairo, Egypt and elsewhere. Featured in part are the legendary whirling dervishes. Segments include Islamic Sufism (2:35), Sufism and Dervishes (2:59) and Celebration of the Prophet's Grandson (3:42) from Paper Gods: Aspects of Religion in Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mali (2004, 51 min.); Sufis Spiritual Music and Dancing (3:32) from Music Moves the World: the Power and Passion of Rhythm, Melody, and Dance (2004, 53 min.); and Whirling Dervish Experience and Path of the Dervish from Generation Exile (2010, 70 min.).
Listening to the Silence: African Cross Rhythms (Films on Demand database) / Loke Film, 1996 - musical examples from the Ewe, Ashanti, Ga, and Frafra peoples of Ghana, West Africa, including dances. (33 min.)
The Ocre People: Nomads of Namibia (Filmakers Library database) / Tracer Films, 1995 - this film follows a family of Ova Himba, cattle herders in the harsh desert of Namibia. (35 min.) View dance segment #1; dance segment #2
Dance on the Wind: Memoirs of a Mississippi Shaman (Dance in Video database) / Cinema Guild, 1994 - Eno Washington, an African American street and stage dancer, discusses the West African roots of African American dance. The film includes copious performance and archival footage. Also available on VHS video, Music/Media Library GV 1624.7 A34 D37 1990z. (30 min.)
A Celebration of Life: Dances of the African-Guyanese (Dance in Video database) / Kean Gibson, Cinema Guild, 1993 - an analysis of the cultural roots and the social and spiritual meaning of African-Guyanese dance. Also available on VHS, Music/Media Library GV1641 G89 C44 1993. (42 min.)
Dancing series (Dance in Video database) / Thirteen/WNET with RM Arts and BBC TV, 1993 - from this series, produced by Rhoda Grauer, the program entitled Lord of the Dance offers segments Dance of the Nigerian Christian Church (ca. 11 min.) and Dance of the Nigerian Osun Worship (ca. min.); the program entitled Dance at the Court presents Ashanti Court Dance, Ghana, West Africa (ca. 15 minutes, divided into two parts). Also available on VHS video, GV1601 D36 1993, vol.s 2 and 4. A book, Dancing: the Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement, by Gerald Jonas in association with Thirteen/WNET et al., accompanies this series.
Dance, Voodoo, Dance (Films on Demand database) / Films for the Humanities, 1992 - featuring voodoo practitioners of Benin, West Africa, the mythical origins of the cult and its music and dance are shown and discussed. (15 min.)
Moko Jumbie: Traditional Stilt Walkers (Filmakers Library database) / Filmakers LIbrary, 1992) - traditional "dancing spirits," of Jakaba, of Mali, Senegal and Guinea, West Africa - costumed, masked stilt walkers - are shown in New York City, the Caribbean, and West Africa. The art, craft, dance and history of these mokio jumbie are documented in this award-winning film. (ca. 16 min.)
Dancing Through West Africa (Filmakers Library database, with transcript; Dance in Video database) / Filmakers Library, 1987 - featuring Chuck Davis, exploring native dancing traditions of Senegal and Gambia. Also on DVD, Music/Media Library GV1713 S46 D36 2004. (29 min.)
Drums of Dagbon (Films on Demand database) / Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 1984 - this film, featuring people from Dagbon in northern Ghana, West Africa, is full of dance content that can be accessed easily in segments. (58 min.)
Lenjen-Go/Mandiani (Dance in Video database) / Pennebaker Hegedus Films, 1984 - this segment from the Dance Black America Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1983, features Chuck Davis, choreographer, with his dance company performing Lenjen-Go and Mandiani, two dance styles from the Senegambia area of West Africa, between Senegal and Gambia. (6 min.)
The Ostrich (Dance in Video database) / Pennebaker Hegedus Films, 1984 - the source video, featuring the Dance Black America Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1983, shows various companies, including the Alvin Ailey, learning African traditional dance; the video culminates in a performance of the Ostrich, choreographed in 1932 by Asadata Dafora, performed by Charles Moore. Moore's performance of the Ostrich can be clicked on directly. (The entire film is 87 minutes.)
Some Women of Marrakech: Disappearing World (Films on Demand database) / ITV Global Entertainment, 1977 - this film explores life for Muslim women in Marrakech, Morocco, through the perspectives of Aisha bint Muhammad and her friend Hajiba. Hajiba works as a dancer, or shaykha, to support herself and her son. According to Muslim standards, she has dishonored herself and her family. (53 min.)
Maasai Celebrations and Dance (1:50 segment from film, Man of the Serengeti, Films on Demand database) / National Geographic, 1972 - the Maasai from east Africa's Serengeti plains are shown dancing in this brief excerpt.
Search for Ecstasy: Moroccan Dance (Dance in Video database) / Aviva Films Ltd., 1971 - the National Dance Company of Morocco performs dances and costumes, showing both Arabic and African influences. Faubion Bowers comments about the dance forms and their meanings. (29 min.)
History Shorts: Dances of the World: Zulu dance (Films on Demand database) / British Pathe - Looks, c2012, 1933 - this short, silent film segment, which segues into a clip on Greek dance, shows an energetic Zulu warrior dance in AbaQulusi, South Africa, in native costume. (ca. 3 min.)
Contemporary African dance
Movement Revolution Africa: a Story of an Art Form in Four Acts (Dance in Video database) / Documentary Educational Resources, 2008 - this film, directed by Alla Kovgan, features contemporary African choreographers. (65 min.) Film information Film website
A Griot's Story (Filmakers Library database) / Ozumi Films, 2008 - griots are wandering African musicians, considered to be repositories of the oral tradition; this film focuses on master drummer Adame Drama, a contemporary griot of 40 years' experience. Dance is present in the discussion and film footage. (55 min.) View a dance-related segment.
African Dance: Sand, Drum and Shostakovich (Dance in Video database) / Documentary Educational Resources, 2007 - this film by Ken Glazebrook and Alla Kovgan explores African contemporary dance via eight modern dance companies from Africa, Europe and Canada, plus interviews with dance historians. Also available on DVD, Music/Media Library GV1705 A37 2007. (70 min.) Film information Catalog record
Dance On: Germaine Acogny (Dance in Video database) / Insight Media, 1992 - this film by Billie Mahoney and Germaine Acogny talk about African roots and dance influences, the first dance school in Senegal (Acogny's), and Acogny technique. (30 min.)