West African Dance I

Learn the fundamental movements of Ekonkon Dance from the Jola people of Casamance West African.
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  • Lectures 18
  • Length 41 mins
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 4/2016 English

Course Description

In this course students will learn Ekonkon dance and the Kutiro drum rhythm as rendered by the Jola people of Senegal (Casamnce) West Africa. Students will begin with a slide presentation discussing the history of the Ekonkon dance, the region and people who perform the dance, when and for what occasion the dance is rendered. Next is a series of demonstration videos of the natural dance movements of the Ekonkon dance technique, followed by the solo Ekonkon movements and lastly a video with live drummers playing the Ekonkon rhythm on Kutiro drum. Further, an example of the call by the drummer to begin and/or change movement, known as a “break” will be demonstrated. As a bonus  there is a video that demonstrations the formation of a Bantaban (circle), which is where dancers gather together and demonstration their knowledge of the technique and movements in a compilation of movements put together in improvisation, beginning with the Ekonkon song and accompanied by the drummers.

By the end of this lecture students will know the history behind the movements in the Ekonkon dance, understand the purpose of the movements, can sing the Ekonkon song, have experience in how to execute the movements, understand the rhythm and recognize the 'break" in the rhythm, and have the ability and skill to attend and participate in a West African dance class with confidence.

What are the requirements?

  • Students should be mobile and flexible, ability to move freely.
  • Students should have an eagerness to learn.
  • Students should posses a sense of rhythm and timing.
  • Students should have the ability to keep the torso titled slightly forward and the knees slightly bent.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Make a connection with the Jola history to the Ekonkon dance movements.
  • Sing the lyrics of the Ekonkon song with the melody.
  • Gain experience in how to execute Ekonkon movements.
  • Know the names of the Kutiro drums that accompany the Ekonkon dance.
  • Recognize the Kutiro rhythm and “breaks”.
  • Perform up to 8 Ekonkon dance movements with the Kutiro Drum rhythm.
  • Build stamina and endurance.
  • Participate in a West African dance class dancing Ekonkon with confidence.

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is for anyone who wants to learn West African dance.
  • This course is for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in Senegalese culture and dance.
  • This course is for anyone who wants to learn Ekonkon dance movements.
  • Ekonkon is a very approachable dance. It is for all ages, body types and sizes, and requires no previous dance experience.
  • This course is a great way to build stamina, energize and burn calories having fun.
  • This course will benefit all dancers and dance enthusiast.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: History, Agriculture, Ekonkon Dance of the Jola People

Students will learn the history and technique of rice cultivation as rendered by the Jola people of Casamance, who live in the southern region of Sengal, West African, and how some of their cultivation techniques are mimicked in Ekonkon dance movements. 


In this lecture students will learn about Kutiro drums, understanding the Ekonkon rhythm and learn to hear the break in the rhythm.


In West African dance the movements are seldom what they seem. Most movements are done with the torso tilted slightly forward, knees slightly bent and the feet shoulder width apart to support the hips. These are just of few of the many intricacies, technique and nuances that assist dancers in interpreting the Ekonkon movements.

Section 2: Ekonkon Natural Dance Movements

Students will learn how to render the first movement in a series of natural movements distinctive to Ekonkon dance. In this movement the foot technique is reminiscent of the Jola people pressing the rice seeds into the earth after they have been spread on the ground. 


Students will learn how to mimic pulling a rice plant and placing it in a basket while maintaining the foot technique and rhythm of Ekonkon dance.  


Students will lean how to continue to maintain the Ekonkon foot technique while shifting hand movements to mimic holding a basket filled with rice and shifting (shaking) the basket to separate the rice from dirt and rocks.


Students will learn a new Ekonkon technique that requires the feet to step then push up into a reive', while arms and hands are moving in a scooping motion. 


Students will learn how to use the small movement that is a step then hop, to mimic the ridging of the rice fields with a kajandu or kadiandou (unique shovel).


Students will learn an Ekonkon solo (celebration) movement, utilizing the hips and a popping motion on both sides of the body, usually rendered at a faster tempo.


Students will learn to utilizing a new foot technique and arm motion that replicates the cutting of rice plants with a knife or sickle (farming tool) to harvest the rice crop.

Section 3: Ekonkon Solo Movements

Students will learn the movement that sets up the transition into the main Ekonkon movement.


Students will learn a solo movement which lifts the leg from the thigh, bending at the knee in front of the body, popping the hips, and putting the leg back down. The arms swing from the elbows to the front of the body then to the back. The nuance in this movement is the small pop of the hip as the leg is being lifted.


Students will learn the technique of a popular solo movement, rendered at a faster tempo.


Students will learn a popular movement that requires the hips to twist from right to left while take small steps forward, and is rendered at a faster tempo.


Students will learn the technique to the main Ekonkon movement, which rendered at a faster tempo.

Section 4: Ekonkon Rhythm As Played on Kutiro Drums

Students will learn to listen for the "break" in the rhythm--a signal to dancers when to start or stop a movement, and when to change movements.


Students will use the Kutiro Drum rhythm to practice the Ekonkon dance technique, to formalize themselves with the "break" and to understand the polyrhythms played.

Section 5: Bantaba or Circle

Students gather in a circle at the end of a dance class and demonstrate the technique they learned, and to have fun.

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Instructor Biography

Bakara Johnson, Entrepreneur, Writer, Editor, Dancer, Vocalist, Photographer, Udemy Instructor

Raised and educated in both the Baltimore/DC Metropolitan Area and the San Francisco Bay Area, Bakara Johnson became a student of dance after participating in a modern dance class in high school. She later received aggressive training in Haitian dance and Dunham Technique with Lynn Wethers-Coles and Blanche Brown, Congolese dance with Malonga Casquelourd, and the traditional dances of Guinea, Ghana and Mali, but it was in the traditional dances of Senegalese West African that she found special personal and artistic resonance.

As a performing member of Harambee Dance Ensemble, Ballet Saungamar and CEEDO West African Drum and Dance Company, she worked to articulate movements through her dance technique, choreographed pieces and her costume designs. She became fascinated with West African dance as a lexicon of movement around the world, and the interface between preservation and dissemination, which makes West African dance an interregnal part of her life.

Aside from her professional dance career, Bakara works as a Staff Coordinator and Editor. She holds an A.A.S. in Business Technology, a B.A. in English and a MPS in Publishing, and devotes her editing career to working with writers in a way that helps to facilitate better communication between readers and writers.

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