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Native American dance

One cannot imagine Native Americans without some sort of rousing dance springing into mind. Whilst a lot of it was created through rather unflattering media stereotyping, the fact remains that there are a myriad of Native American dances accompanied by basic instruments, all denoting some different aspect, or telling a story.

There are so many different dances that it is hard to know which to choose, so we will just outline a few of the more famous or important ones. For example, there is the Buffalo or Bison dance. Performed regularly at many of the Plains Indians’ festivals, it was done to coincide with the return of the herds to the grasslands. This was of particular importance as the return of the herds meant food for the people. The Buffalo dance was one of the first to be recorded back in 1894 and is, in fact, some of the first recordings ever made of Native Americans.

The Rain Dance, or rainmaking ritual, is another popular and well-known tradition. Performed by tribes throughout the Americas, the aim was to invoke rain. The entire performance is done to emulate rain with feathers and headdresses covered in blue, the colour of water. The performance of this dance has simply been handed down verbally through the generations and remains relatively unchanged.

The Native American Hoop dance is one of the few dances performed solo. The solo dancer will move holding and wearing at least a dozen hoops, using them to create a variety of shapes and movements. Other dances such as the deer dance or turkey dance both revolve around food. Still more dances such as the Great Race dance simply tells old tales and legends as a way to pass a story on.

There are numerous Native American dances and no matter what their meaning, they are always accompanied by a strong percussive beat and tend to involve additional beats and rhythms created through the use of foot stamping. All dances and performances have a strong meaning behind them, all of which can be understood through the way the performers move. From religious to healing, storytelling to courting, these dances contain it all.

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Rhythm culture in South America

Much of South America’s music has been heavily influenced by the strong beats popular in music from African tribes. This music was brought over when the African slaves arrived on American shores. However, there was also a strong Hispanic presence, which also had huge influences resulting in the music created becoming rather diverse and somewhat unique.

Afro-Brazilian Music

Maracatu is a style of music played primarily during Carnival time but also only in certain regions such as Recife. The music is there as a backdrop to the parades that are taking place and evolved from being played at ceremonies such as the tribal kings in regions of Africa. The music is played on large drums, shakers and also huge bells to create the sounds. During the performances, females play a predominant role and even dress as men for parts of it. As a whole, the image created is harking back to their African ancestors and as such all participants perform wearing blackface makeup.

Afro-Cuban music

Like Brazil, Cuba’s music is wide and varied. Similarly, a large part of the process is in the performance and dance that surrounds it. A large part of Cuban music is made up of their African heritage. In fact, a lot of African music is considered to be sacred and follow a number of traditions. Much of this is evident in the chants and dances that are still used to this day. Clave is a common rhythm pattern often used in this type of music. In fact, it is a basis for many other Cuban styles such as rumba, mambo, and salsa. It’s a five-stroke pattern that is the main heart of most Afro-Cuban music. Believed to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa, it has the same function here as it did there, to keep the music together.

Haiti too has seen a lot of influence from this type of music. A lot of the Haitian Voodoo drumming takes strong influences from this style, harking back to the emotive and complex relationships that music had on African tribes prior to their upheaval.

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