The Atilogwu Dance
The Igbos, also known as the Ndi’ Igbo are united by their shared history, culture, and traditions, which include clothing, beliefs, religion, dancing, and other cultural phenomena.
The Atilogwu dance is a traditional dance performed by the Igbo ethnic group of Nigeria. Dancing takes precedence over other forms of entertainment in Igbo culture, as expressed by its involvement in many of the local festivals that take place in the region. Among all the traditional dances in Igbo land, Atilogwu is the most popular, widely performed and one of the oldest.
The dancers perform vigorous body movements, an array of energy sapping moves, several rigorous training protocols, displays of acrobatic prowess and stunts. This dance is usually performed by agile youths who have been trained for years.
Originally, the name ‘Atilogwu’ can be traced back to the time the dance was introduced. Spectators and onlookers were astonished at the skills and techniques showcased by the vibrant Atilogwu dancers which prompted them to ask themselves “is this magic? In the Igbo language, the word itself "Atilogwu" translates into "has magic, as in sorcery/witchcraft".
The performance is enhanced and accompanied by traditional musical instruments like drums, opi (a flute-like instrument), ogene (a metal gong) and ichaka (a beaded gourd), which add a score to the intricate dance. The beat of the drum and “ogene”, dictates the tempo of the dance, and sets a rhythm to the music as well. The dancers’ steps correspond to the drums’ and opi’s rhythms, which also influence the dancers’ dancing steps or motions.
The dance is characterized by nimble, acrobatic movements. The Atilogwu dance is usually performed on important occasions like marriages, festivals, coronations and other important celebrations that involve the participation of the community. The dance has gained both local and international recognition and has been performed all over the world.
Have you ever seen a live or video performance of the Atilogwu dance? How was the experience?
Check out a performance of this iconic dance below and let us know what you think.