Course Profile

Potential Appropriation Issues: Dances from Countries/Regions in the Continent of Africa

The use of individual lessons in this resource is not recommended for teachers without the cultural background of and experience with this dance focus. Always invite cultural knowledge keepers to support cultural learning.

CODE recommends that a full dance credit in these forms of dance only be offered by teachers from these cultures with extensive experience and expertise. In order to avoid cultural appropriation, you must have a personal connection to the material.  

This course emphasizes the development of students’ artistry, improvisational and compositional skills, and technical proficiency in global dance genres. Students will apply the elements of dance, techniques, and tools in a variety of ways, including performance situations; describe and model responsible practices related to the dance environment; and reflect on how the study of dance affects personal and artistic development. This course will focus on the dance practices of various African countries. Teachers are encouraged to bring in a dance artist to teach a class in a specific form from a specific African tradition.


Course Overview 

With the number of countries in Africa (54 countries) and the several different cultural practices, languages, religions and people within each country this course provides only an introduction into the various African Dance forms. Students will learn about different social dance forms from the various parts of Africa-north, south, east and west. Students will learn the historical and cultural significance and reasons why dances are performed; and understand the connections between dance and everyday life. Students will come to realize that the language of dance comes out of life situations and events in parts of Africa (social dances about birth, crops, funerals, celebrations, weddings, initiation into womanhood or manhood). The course will address the differences between tradition and heritage. This course will provide an introduction to the authenticity of traditional dance forms, through performance videos, musical/movement connections and guest artists. Students will come to appreciate and understand that traditional West Africa dance technique is embedded in the life, culture and heritage of the people. Students will embark on the choreographic process and create their own traditional dances.

Scope & Sequence

Unit Descriptions

UNIT 1: Introduction to Style A (20 hours)

Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the history, technique, cultural and social significance of the dance form.

UNIT 2: Kinesiology and Body Awareness (10 hours)

Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of alternative physical practices that enhance and supplement dance training and physical well-being (Yoga and Pilates) with an emphasis on correct terminology and the physiology of movement as they relate to the dance genre.

UNIT 3: Introduction to Style B (20 hours)

Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the history, technique, cultural and social significance of the dance form. 

UNIT 4: Introduction to Style C (20 hours)

Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the history, technique, cultural and social significance of the dance form.

UNIT 5: Composition and Choreography (20 hours)

Students will use the creative process to explore the elements of dance and compositional forms to compose individual and ensemble dance creations applying and building on the students' knowledge from Units 1, 3, and 4.

Culminating Activity

Fusion Dance (20 hours)

Students will create a final dance composition by fusing the techniques of styles A, B, and C. They will apply composition and presentation skills; as well as employing the tools of stagecraft. Through this culminating activity, students will demonstrate an understanding of all of the overall expectations learned throughout the course.



Dagan, Esther A. The Spirit's Dance in Africa: Evolution, Transformation, and Continuity in Sub-Sahara. Montreal: Galerie Amrad African, 1997. ISBN 978-1-896371-01-6

Kalani; Ryan M. Camara. West African Drum & Dance (A Yankadi-Macrou Celebration). Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Publishing Co. 2006. Print, CD & DVD. ISBN-10: 0739038699 ISBN-13: 978-0739038697 0736000259 
Dance Companies/Artists in Ontario:
COBA (Collective Of Black Artists) Inc. Website:
2444 Bloor St. W., 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario M6S 1R3 TEL: (416) 638-3111

For other companies:

Instructional Strategies

Direct Instruction, KWL charts, Venn diagrams, Expert Groups, Flocking, Group work, Improvisation, Discussion, Reflection, Summarizing

Glossary of Terms Specific to Course

African dance - African dance comprises many traditional and modern dances, with great variation in style and form across the continent. In Africa, dance is closely related to music, mime, storytelling, costume and ritual. African children, who traditionally learn to drum and dance as early as they learn to walk, participate in public ceremonies alongside the adults. Often, a "call and response" dialogue occurs between dancer, drummer and spectators, which makes all parties integral to the event. Source:
Celebration - A joyful occasion for special festivities to mark some happy event. (Source:
Djembe Drum - A large goblet shaped drum, traditionally carved out of one log. Like an ashiko, yields a resonant bass tone when struck in the middle, and a high ringing tone when struck on the rim. The djembe is perhaps the most well-known West African instrument throughout the world. Source:
Flocking - A type of improvisation in which students move in groups, with no set pattern or in a diamond formation, following a leader and all doing the same movements simultaneously. This is an extended version of mirroring for three or more people. Participants do not necessarily need to be able to watch each other, as long as they can see the leader. Source: The Arts 9-12 curriculum document glossary, revised 2010.
Harvest - crop: the yield from plants in a single growing season; reap: gather, as of natural products; "harvest the grapes; the gathering of a ripened crop; the season for gathering crop
Kpanlog - A fairly recent dance form that means turning dance. The dance features wildly swinging arms, gyrating torsos, and fancy footwork. Dancing is high-spirited and the songs are fresh and lively. The drums are conga-like and played with hands. Source: Alokli African Dance
Sabar Drum - By far the most common instrument in Senegal. Most all sabar drumming is accompanied by dancing and usually takes place for special occasions and festivals including births, baby naming ceremonies, weddings, holidays and other special celebrations. Source:
Senegalese Harvest Dance - A celebratory harvest dance that transitions into a celebratory thanksgiving for the reaping of the crop 
Refer to curriculum document glossary for all other terms.

Examples of Activities

Lesson 1: Exploring a West African Harvest Dance (from Unit #1, 3 or 4)

Students will explore traditional West African dance, specifically, Senegalese Harvest Dance. Students will create a celebratory West African dance and demonstrate how it serves as a vehicle for communicating specific purposes, such as cultural practices, social events and environmental themes.

Overview of BLMs 

Assessment and Evaluation Strategies

Rubric evaluation, checklist, self evaluation, self reflection, discussion, observation.