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   Arts - Traditional Dance
Dance In Ghana - By F. Nii-Yarteypdf print preview send to friend
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The dance, a 'contemporary' dance form, originated in the 1960's. Kpanlogo is a fusion of movements of the Kolomashie and the popular High life dance, Oge, kru music and dance form introduced to Accra by Liberian immigrants in the 1950's. It also contains movements from indigenous dance forms like Kolomashie, recreational street dance. Kple, Me and kpaa religious dances of Ga people; with their characteristic emphasis on hand and feet movements; stamping, thrusting and rotation of body and limbs, serve as examples. Kpanlogo is rich in mimetic and theatrical expressions and provides a lot of freedom for comic or playful and flirtatious and even some sexual undertones. 
 
The dance gradually gained national popularity among the youth who gave different regional interpretations to it. In fact, so popular was the dance that the sexual elements in it became apparent. Some sections of the population called on the authorities to ban it. The matter went as far as to the President of the Republic, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. He called for a demonstration by the Ghana Dance Ensemble at his residency to ascertain the claim. At the end of the performance, Nkrumah could not find anything wrong with the dance, so the Kpanlogo dance survived to this day. What the President did not know was that Mawere-Opoku, the Artistic Director of the Dance Ensemble had carefully taken out those movements considered profane when the dance became part of the repertoire of the Dance Ensemble.
 
The inspiration for the Kpanlogo dance came about because of an Ananse story told to its originator, Otoo Lincoln, by his grand father. Ananse (the spider) stories originated from West Africa as an educational tool and a form of entertainment. Here is the story, “There once was an old rich man, and he was a chief and had a big land. He was married and had three daughters, Kpanlogo, Nmaa Nmaa and Alogodzan. The names of the girls were withheld from the public. Besides, they spent their entire lives within the confines of their father’s palace. Finally, when the chief realized that he was getting old with no son to inherit him, he summoned the community to his palace. The desperate old man put before his subjects, his intention to marry off his daughters to any man who could mention the names of his daughters.
 
However, previously, a man had sneaked into the palace. The girls were playing when he suddenly appeared behaving like a mad man. The girls began to laugh at him. The mother not too far away, heard the commotion. In her attempt to find out what was happening from her daughters, she innocently called out to her first daughter, Kpanlogo! When she did not hear from her, the mother shouted out the names of the other two daughters, it Nmaa Nmaa! Alogodzan! What is going on?” By the time, the girls started   explaining, the man had vanished from the palace. They looked for him everywhere but to no avail. On his way home, the man kept murmuring the names until they stuck in his memory.
 
On the day of the contest, many of the men in the village as well as the surrounding villages gathered in front of the palace. One man after the other tried fruitlessly to mention the names of the girls. When it came to the turn of the man who visited the palace, he took a few steps closer to where the chief and his family were sitting. He suddenly burst into a melodious song he had composed around the names of the beautiful girls, Kpanlogo – Alogodzan nn – Kpanlogo – Nmaa oo Nmaa oo !!. Everybody was amazed. The chief demanded to know how he found out the names of his daughters. He narrated the whole process to the gathering. The chief who was highly impressed gave his daughters to this clever man”.   (5)
 
The story itself does not contribute significantly to the actual movements of the dance, except perhaps those movements with flirtatious connotations. Some believe those movements came in because of the eventual marriage of the young man to the three daughters in the story. The movements of the dance are characterized by feet thrusting and hand gestures pointed downwards towards the feet.  The right hand points to the right foot and the left hand points to the left alternately. This action is accompanied by a constant twisting and rotation of the hips, enabling an outward turn out of the foot - stepping on the heel; the upper torso leans forward with the supporting leg slightly bent – knee facing forward diagonal. With these basic movements, individual dancers may improvise adding different movements, hand and leg gestures within the basic 1-2-3 - - four, five bell pattern of the music.
These days, the performance of kpanlogo takes place on almost every occasion; be it a Kpodziemo (baby naming ceremony), funeral or ordinary social gatherings. There are no special costumes or make-up for this dance.
 
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