by Omotunde Kasali
The resonance reels into a rhythm and the rhythm syncs the limbs; it captures the body, and frees the soul. And the body is abandoned to that rhythm: Azonto is in Nigeria!
The body is erected, the legs are kept at ease, the waist is locked, then the upper body is slightly angled forward, the shoulders are slightly raised, as if to shrug, the elbows are slightly opened and locked by the sides, one heel taps the dance floor and the parallel shoulder rises with it, and that heel and that shoulder are brought to rest; the other heel taps the dance floor and the parallel shoulder rises with it and that heel and that shoulder are brought to rest; the shoulder-heel resonance is maintained and is transferred from side to side. The resonance reels into a rhythm and the rhythm syncs the limbs; it captures the body, and frees the soul. And the body is abandoned to that rhythm: Azonto is in Nigeria!
Azonto, a new dance, is happening: in music scenes, in cities, in towns, in villages, on the streets, in schools, in parties, in nightclubs, in private spaces, in all little pockets of the world. A gift from the Gold Coast, Azonto has made Nigeria. Ghana made it. But here it is refined, to a preference. Additions are introduced, subtractions are made; touches are added, twists are dropped, much as a master learns from a master. The art is lent, learnt, appreciated, and adapted to a Nigerian taste. Thank you Ghana.
The country is rocked by a new dance – you do not fail to notice. A boy of 7, waiting to cross the road, pleased by the Gbedu drifting from a nearby barbershop, takes it in, and dances Azonto, while he waits. A girl of 11, during break at school, dances Azonto, to no music, to poke fun at her peers watching on, laughing and enjoying the spectacle. A nightclub-goer, waiting to be served drinks, breaks into Azonto, to set off the night’s dance. A lively septuagenarian, amusing his watching grandchildren, dances Azonto much to the delight of his audience. The country is amazingly agog with it.
A dance is happening. But here, dances happen all the time. A new dance is in vogue from time to time. A dance is the new thing and often times, the dance is given the power to take on even newer identities. It does not stop at being a dance. It becomes the new embodiment of staying alive in a country where life is constantly intimidated. It becomes the art of those of little art. And in foreign spaces, on foreign dance floors, when done in groups, it becomes an interesting symbol of brethrenship. It is a show of ‘we are of same place.’ The art bursts with all life. An art polished in places like James Town, now taught in classes, danced in opens, shown in slick music videos—to the world. And the world claims it. The art of little lives of James Town belongs to the world. And the art becomes a triumph, for places like little James Town, with little more than an aesthetic significance. It is amazing how art is mined in these little places.
They give a new dance to dance to, a new dance to liven minds, a new dance to be rendered in music. Fela Kuti’s rendering of Open and Close, Awilo Longomba’s of Makossa, Daddy Showkey’s of Galala, Olu Maintain’s of Yahooze, Artquake‘s of Alanta, Fusion’s of Azonto: they tell us we are sure to have a new dance, soon.
About the author: Omotunde Kasali is a writer and photographer.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.