Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Video Resources on African Dance: Online (streaming) video

Traditional African dance: videos from streaming databases

Swahili Beat / Documentary Educational Resources, 2012 - once available via Kanopy, this film, "packed with music and dance," is now streaming from Culture Unplugged, featuring the Swahili people of Kenya and Tanzania's east African coast. Also available as a DVD, Music/Media Library,  DT 429.5 S94 S92 2012. (28 min.).

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  Healing Dances of the San in Bushmen of the Kalahari (Springbok Films & The Tribal Trust Foundation via Filmaker's Library, 2006; 56 min.).  A portion of the ...San / Bushmen of the Kalahari transcript follows (click to enlarge): Bushmen of the Kalahari transcript snippet 

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 (5:29) and Path of the Dervish (2:07) 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.)  Dance segments begin at 14:20 and 29:12.

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.

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.

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).  CLICK "DETAILS" to access segments. 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.)

JVC Smithsonian Folkways Video Anthology of World Music and Dance / Multicultural Media, 1989 - this 33-volume addresses Africa in volumes 16-19 [alternate link]. Countries represented: vol. 16: not Africa, despite the title; vol. 17: Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, Cameroon, Zaire, Tanzania; vol. 18: Chad, Cameroon; vol. 19: Ivory Coast, Botswana, South Africa. Contents

Dancing Through West Africa (Filmakers Library and Dance in Video databases) / Filmakers Library, 1987 - featuring Chuck Davis, exploring native dancing traditions of Senegal and Gambia.  Also on DVD, Music/Media Library GV1713 S46 D36 2004 [orig. 1987].  (29 min.)

Discovering the Music of Africa  / Barr Films, 1987 - while describing and demonstrating the music and rhythms of Africa (especially Ghana) using bells, rattles and drums, several traditional dances are depicted (22 min.); this film is streaming from The Internet Archive and also YouTube.

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. (Click on "Tracks," then "The Ostrich" to view the segment; the entire film is 87 minutes.)

Contemporary African dance & documentary

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.) 

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.)

Dance Librarian

Profile Photo
Laura Ruede
TCU Box 298400, Fort Worth, TX 76129

Videos from streaming databases, continued

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, filmed in 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.  (About 3 min.)