African dance embodies athleticism and a graceful beauty flowing with rhythm.  In Africa, dance is a means of marking the experiences of life, encouraging abundant crops, and healing the sick soul and body.  It is also done purely for enjoyment.  All ceremonial African Dances have purpose.  They tell stories and relate history.  The distinctive beat of powerful African drums, energetic African dance – warriors, gumboot dancers, pantsula and township jive.  A real slice of vibrant AFRICA!!!

  • Candidates must ensure that the particular style is maintained throughout and the music and dress/costume is appropriate to the dance subject.
  • Candidates/Groups that entered for one style may also enter for the other styles. Separate entry forms together with the appropriate fee must be submitted.
  • This explosive and vibrant category ONLY FOCUS ON GROUPS OF 2 and more BUT NOT EXCEEDING 20.
  • Teachers must ensure that the names and surnames of candidates are legible on entry forms.  Each candidate receives a Diploma.
  • If pre-recorded music is used, it must be saved in mp3-format on CD / DVD OR MEMORY STICK and handed to the sound engineer before performing.
  • Groups that make use of African Drums etc. must bring their own.
  • Participants are free to compile their own groups.  Groups may consist of any age and any grade.

Types of African dances

1.  Warrior dances

2.  Dances of love are performed for special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries.

3.  Rites of passage and coming of age dances

4.  Dances of welcome

5.  Dances of possession and summoning. 

Dances of possession and summoning are common themes in African dance and very important in many Traditional African Religions.  Their purpose is to call a spirit and these can be spirits of Plants or Forests, Ancestors or Deities.  The dances are used to honour the spirits, ask for guidance or to appease the spirits if they are angry


There are some basic characteristics that are common to most African dance forms:

The relationship to the earth – working together with gravity as opposing to trying to defy it as is such with some Western dance forms.

The spiritual representation – dance in African within the traditional context, was used as a way of elevating oneself from the human realm to that of the spiritual universe. A dance form that engages the mind, body and spirit in order to truly release the conscious, allowing the individual to experience the power of self-expression.

Importance of the Community. Africans danced mainly with and for the community. Solo performers were supported and affirmed by the group through song, hand clapping, and shouted encouragement. The circle is a common structure in African dance representing unity and completeness

The relationship to rhythm – rhythm is fundamental to the existence of African culture. It acts as a thread, binding the very fabric of African culture together through its expression. An attribute of African culture that has successfully influenced and continues to influence the world over.

The whole theatre structure – the practice of dance is one in which the union of movement, song and drama come together, crystallising expression through the medium of communication.

The connection to culture – African dance forms are direct expressions of culture through the medium of dance. Culture a stimulus to the development of movement and artistic expression


The African concept of music is totally different to the Western one. Traditional African musicians do not seek to combine sounds in a manner pleasing to the ear. Their aim is simply to express life in all of its aspects through the medium of sound. The African musician does not merely attempt to imitate nature by music, but reverses the procedure by taking natural sounds, including spoken language, and incorporate them into the music. To the uninitiated this may result in cacophony, but in fact each sound has a particular meaning. To be meaningful, African music must be studied within the context of African life.

Music has an important role in African society. Music is an integral part of the life of every African individual from birth. At a very early stage in life the African child takes an active role in music, making musical instruments by the age of three or four.  Musical games played by African children prepare them to participate in all areas of adult activity - including fishing, hunting, farming, grinding maize, attending weddings and funerals and dances.

An intimate union forms between man and art in Africa. It amounts to a total communion that is shared by the whole community. This may help explain why some languages in black Africa has precise noun to define music.

The art of music is so inherent in man that it is superfluous to have a particular name for it. The drum is so important in African society that it is sometimes equated with a man. Women must consequently treat it with the same respect that they would show towards their men folk. In some African countries women are not even allowed to touch a drum under any circumstance, though Islam and European colonial influence have softened some of these traditions.

African music is nearly always coupled with some other art such as poetry or dance and is one of the most revealing forms of expression.


K1.1                       Indlamu Dance (Zulu War Dance)

A traditional Zulu war dance where the dancer lifts one foot over his head and brings it down hard, landing squarely on the downbeat. Normally, two dancers in warrior’s pelts perform indlamu routines together shadowing each other’s moves.   This war dance is often performed at weddings.  It is performed with drums and full traditional attire and derive from the war dances of the warriors.  It is danced by men of any age wearing skins (amabeshu), headrings ceremonial belts, shields, rattles and weapons like spears and knobkierries.  This dance shows off muscular strength and control of the weapons with mock stabs at imaginaru enemies. 

K1.2                       Isicathamiya

This is performed by men or boys standing in a straight line or arc.  The music balladic and the lyrics pertain to modern issues but use ancient melodies.  Issues like aids, crime and migrant labour.  The lead singer provides the counterpoint or thythm.  The music form symbolises life in rural Zululand and the townships.


K1.3                       Gumboots

Gumboot dance developed from traditional African roots, to become a part of urban South African working-class culture. The practice began with rural laborers who came to work at the gold mines of Witwatersrand in South Africa. They brought with them strong traditions of rhythm, song, and dance. Facing oppression and hardship at the mines, including punishment if they talked to each other while working, they were forced to adapt and create new forms of communication and entertainment.   Inside the mines, the workers used the gumboots to communicate with each other, by slapping their boots, stamping their feet, and rattling their ankle chains. As the form also developed into a popular social activity, songs dealing with working-class life, drinking, love, family, low wages and mean bosses were sung to accompany the movements.

K1.4                       Pantsula

This is a highly energetic dance form that originated in the balck townships of South Africa during the Apartheid era.  It is a syncopated, quick-stepping, low to the ground form of dance which evokes the urban street culture of which it is a part.  It provides a powerful, stylized form of expression.  Kwaito music is used for this dance as it projects a streetwise, gangster image as strong and sharp like pantsula.

K1.4                       Umteyo Dance (Xhosa shaking dance)

Involves the rapid undulation or shaking of the thorax so that the whole length of the spine appears to be reppling.  Older men, Amadoda, do a similar dance, Xhensa accompanies by singing and clapping. 

K1.6                       AGBEKOR (ancient dance known as the Atamga)

This is a warrior dance depicting men who fought in the battle, which is why the dance involves warfare movements.  It is supposedly an aggressive style of dancing and is characterized by a complex drum rhythm.  The dancers stage mock fights using horsetail as spears to stab the opponent.  It is performed specifically at cultural events and at funerals.  Agbekor is a style of this particular dance type.

K1.7                       DANCE OF POSSESSION AND SUMMONING

This dance type is used to summon the spirits of the world, namely than of ancestors, trees, forests and even deities. 

It is performed to honour the spirits and as a means to ask for guidance. 

K1.8                       Open session (this session includes any other African Dance and it is also open for any age)

Domba/ Ingoma/ Isishameni/  San Trance Dance, etc.