5 Evergreen Street Dance Styles From Across The Continent

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For the African, music and dance are synonymous. Across the continent, amazing music is produced which is hugely influenced by our diverse cultural heritage and, of course, most of this music goes hand in hand with a variety of different dance styles and trends that further push the popularity of the songs to massive heights — particularly on social media. Vibrant, elaborate, unique and always infectious, many of these dance styles do a great job of capturing the African spirit and energy, often transcending or even outliving the songs that inspired them.

From the Southern parts of Africa, all the way back to the East and West, several dance styles have taken the continent (and the world) by storm for several years now. But as music genres like Afrobeats, and Amapiano continue to take up space, our African street dance styles continue to evolve and thrive. We take a look at 5 of our favorite street dance styles from across the continent in recent years.

 

Leg Work/ Zanku (Nigeria)

It is almost impossible to discuss the history and influence of contemporary Nigerian pop music without reference to the dances that have lined its path, and we doubt that anyone will forget the Leg work/Zanku era anytime soon. The dance style originated in Nigeria and was popularized by street hop artists like Zlatan and Naira Marley. In fact, the Zanku dance style is said to be an acronym for “Zlatan Abeg No Kill Us”, which went viral following the release of the star’s hit singles Killin Dem and Zanku (Leg Work). The dance involves fast-paced, rhythmic movements of just about every part of the body, including the legs, hands and chest. Although the dance style has given way to more recent dances, it remains a trusted go-to move for many on the dance floor.

 

 

Kupe/Pilolo (Ghana)

While Kupe Dance is a song by Ghanaian-UK-based artist A-Star, it’s popular Ghanaian dancer, Incredible Zigi, who is said to have created the kupe dance steps around 2018. Within a week, the dance went viral on social media, as dancers flooded the internet to partake in online challenges. Not long after that, the dynamic dancer came up with the Pilolo — a name borrowed from a hide and seek game popular among Ghanaian children. Like it’s predecessor, the pilolo also became an instant hit, reaching its global peak when Janet Jackson performed the dance at the end of her “Made for Now” performance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon in 2018.

 

Amapiano Dance (South Africa)

Originating from the Rainbow Nation, who can forget the Gwara Gwara dance which reigned mightily a few years ago? The dance was made popular by South African artist, DJ Bongz, with the introduction of his hit single Ofana Nawe, and was distinguished by the continuous winding of one leg. Since then, we’ve gotten a constant supply of invigorating dance moves from the country, with the Amapiano dance style (which went viral in 2019 and throughout the 2020 pandemic) soon taking center stage.

Amapiano has created trending dance moves such as “the pouncing cat”, the “Zekethe”, the “Dakiwe challenge” and the famous “Mlando” dance move, to mention but a few. The dance style is a rave of the moment and one of the most popular afro dance steps in 2022.

 

Odi Dance (Kenya)

Odi dance is a Kenyan style that is commonly associated with the youth. Started by a gospel professional dancer and artist, Timeless Noel, Hype Ochi and gospel dancehall artist, Jabiddi, Odi dance was started to attract more youth (primarily those in low income neighborhoods) to the gospel of Christ. The dance has not only become a national sensation but has gained popularity across the entire African continent.

 

Ndombolo (Congo)

Ndombolo is a popular afro dance style that originated from Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is common in Central and East Africa. The Ndombolo dance involves movements of the waist, hips and legs, and was popularized by artists like Koffi Olomide and Awilo Longomba. Although the dance style has been around for a long time (as far back as the 90’s), it is still very much alive and evolving with the times. 

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