What Is West African?
The character of dancing observed by travelers to West Africa in the 19th century depended on context, the people, and the gender of the dancers. In general men used large body movements, including jumping and leaping. Women danced smaller movements with much use of "shuffle steps", the body in a bent position with "crooked knees". The circle dance predominated everywhere, sometimes solo dancers or musicians in the middle, sometimes couples. The ecstatic seizure was an essential element of ceremonial dancing, both religious and secular. It is extremely important that the dancers maintain clarity. One does not dance to go into a trance but to come out of a trance, to join a diversified assembly with a separate contribution, for dancing is a reminder that one is only part of the whole.