Dance in Africa forms an integral part of everyday life. It is not detached from people's lives. It is a spontaneous release from the people and translates everyday life experiences into movement.
African dance is a form of communication - it demonstrates emotions, beliefs, everyday life activities etc through movement. For example love, hatred, joy, sorrow, courage and fear.
Some dances have particular meanings or stories behind them. For example the harvest dance, courtship dance, marriage dance, dances for puberty, warfare, hunting, birth, death, the rain dance, dance of the sun, etc. Others are named after the drumming rhythm or the instrument (eg. kpanlogo is usually danced to the kpanlogo drum whilst fume fume denotes the sound of the rhythm).
Within the African community everybody dances. Some specific moves or choreographies are for certain members of the clan, for women only or men only or the elderly or the young. Dances often have a particular costume that enhances the movements.
Each country of Africa has many ethnic groups, each of which has a different language, history and tradition. Music and dance reflect these identities so that every tribe in Africa has its own style and interpretations of dances and rhythms.
In recent years, West African dance has begun to be performed out of its original context e.g. in hotels, theatres and national ceremonies. Since then, some West African groups have been influenced by ballet, and many West African countries now have their own national dance ensemble.