What Is The History And Costumes Of Atilogwu Dance In Nigeria?

joybaby Monday, December 6, 2021 Basis



In this post we will be discussing the history of Atilogwu dance in eastern Nigeria with a focus on Anambra.

What Is Atilogwu

Atilogwu is a kind of dance known among the Igbo ethnic group particularly the people from Anambra. Atilogwu took several dancing styles from popular Igbo dances like Anam, Anaku, Ochanja, Ogwulogwu, and Adunjanja. It is different from all other dances in that it require acrobatics and body movements to perform it, hence making it a very difficult dance to learn.

History Of Atilogwu Dance

Atilogwu is one of the oldest dances in Igbo land. It has been practiced by these people in their town. However Atilogwu would reach national fame in the early 1940’s when a member of the Aguobu Iwollo travelled to Ebeneba in Awka to learn about the dance. Before the Atilogwu became popular, dances such as the Ogwulogwu and Ubo Uya Kanga were the rave of the moment. The origin of the name ‘Atilogwu’ is traced back to the time when the dance was initiated. Spectators were amazed at the skills showcased by the vibrant Atilogwu dancers which prompted them to ask themselves “is this magic?” and thus the dance got its name, Atilogwu which literally means “is this magic?”. It is worthy of note that Atilogwu dance was derived from the conglomeration of five traditional Igbo dances named: Anam, Ogwulogwu, Anaku, Ochanja and Adunjanja. The exact period when Atilogwu dance came into existence remains unknown but the dance has evolved over the years. New steps and stunts have been added to make it more lively and enticing. Atilogwu has earned both local and international recognition and has been performed all over the world. The Igbo people are one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. They inhabit the eastern region of the country and are over 32 million in population. The Igbos (Ndi’ Igbo) are bound together by their history, cultures and traditions which include dressing, beliefs, religion, dance, et cetera. Dancing takes higher percentage of the entertainment and spiritual (religion) aspects of the Igbo culture. The Igbos believe that dancing performs more functions other than entertainment in the society, such as spiritual cleansing of the land, training of teenagers to keep fit, preserving history and so on. Of all the traditional dances in Igbo land, Atilogwu is the most popular, widely performed and one of the oldest.

Special Features of the Atilogwu Dance

  • It is performed only by youth due to the high amount of energy required to perform it
  • It can take a considerable amount of time to perfect the dance; hence it is often taught to children who then grow to master it
  • It involves a lot of body movements and the dancers are expected to be skilled in acrobatics
  • It is performed by five to six people
  • The dance movement involves high jumps, flips, twisting, climbing and falling down from a human tree
  • The rate of the dance is usually dictated by the flute player
  • The dance is usually accompanied by music which is played with the same tempo as the dance; when the dancers are in high spirit the tempo of the music also increases and vice-versa
  • Dancers usually put on brightly coloured dress
  • equires a lot of foot-stomping which is usually done to create a special kind of rhythm that is unique to the Atilogwu
  • It is usually performed with the aid of drums and a metal gong instrument known as ‘ogene’
  • Atilogwu is not just a dance, it is seen as an art form that can be expressed to create happiness and well being among the people

Atilogwu dancers

The Atilogwu dance is accompanied with fast and rich music produced by different traditional musical instruments such as: drums, a flute-like instrument known as opi, a metal gong called ogene and Ichaka, a beaded gourd. The steps of the dancers tally with the rhythm of the drums and the opi which also dictate the dance steps or moves to the dancers. Atilogwu is an amazing youth dance which involves vigorous body movements and a lot of acrobatics. Only agile youths can perform the Atilogwu dance because of its energy sapping moves, stunts and several rigorous training. Other dances in Igbo land (ala Igbo) include: Egwu Ogene, Ode, Odebara, Nkwa, Mkpokiti, Akwunechenyi, Nkwa Umuagbogho, Nkwa Nwite and so on.Atilogwu dance of eastern Nigeria

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