People in West African cultures dance under many circumstances. There are everyday dance, such as at marriages or to celebrate births or the naming of a child. There are also dances performed as rites of passage or at various stages of a person’s life. Dances express the activities of every day life, and often the work itself can be seen as a dance. For example, when women wash clothes at the riverbank they make music by slapping the clothes against calabashes.
Yaya Diallo, a drummer and native of Mali, says that to become a proficient dancer in his culture, you must follow six basic requirements:
1. Dance steps must be synchronized with the music.
2. Each dancer must be able to perform each dance in all directions (forwards, backwards, left, and right).
3. Dancers must combine the dance steps together to form one single African dance.
4. All dancers must dance to the level of their ability and not be in competition with other dances.
5. All dancers must perform the single African dance piece as a group.
6. Dancers must smile, make it look easy, and have fun!