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Go-Go, Azonto, Funk...Just keep on dancin'


D.C. residents dance outside the memorial service for 
go-go musician, Chuck Brown, who died in May this year.


Since I am 'under the weather' it's easy to see how useful the dancing habit is in my life. 

I can dance when I cannot do much else. 

That has to be good, right? 

Strange. But good.

Having negotiated a recent plateau in my steppin', I can now boast that the dancing and I are getting along famously.

I'm learning new dances, tackling more complicated foot work and am now ... (wait for it) ... I'm choreographing. 

Who woulda thought?

I can now lay claim to have 'created' two dance routines. 

I  need to claim the  provisional clause   as new  steps in line dance are rare  indeed. It's always about combinations and how these settle together. 

It's about flow and comfortable fit, that if put together just so, will look and feel good.

My habit has been to learn a dance off YouTube and dance it for a time to get the feel for it. Then, in some instances, I start fiddling with and adapting the choro so that I bend it to my preferred dance style and teaching approach.

Of course, in the first instance, I'm attracted to particular dances and their music because I like them, so they are the ones I choose to learn. What happens thereafter is a personal engagement with and  exploration of the choreography. 

Sometimes I reject a dance out of hand and drop it from my repertoire.

I did not expect that fiddling with the choreography would come so easily to me: given how shallow has been my dancing background.

That doesn't make me a Bob Fosse or Twyla Tharpbut it does underscore the accessibility of  democratic dance, and the constant creative impetus driven by the music.

My latest choro was to my favorite James Brown song, Payback. It is an amazing Funk exercise -- even for James Brown -- a classic!

Since I used a  simple 4 beat move  I snaffled from a West African dance, I  explored Afrobeat some more -- the beat that always leads back to the funkiness of  the Nigerian, Fela Kuti  (who reminds me so much of Brown anyway).

...and by dint of neighborhood geography I came upon Azonto -- a dance that originated in the urban slums of Ghana. 

Some soul line dance clubs in the USA are now teaching Azonto -- as it is an easy dance to learn and doesn't require gymnastic skills to dance to. It isn't just one dance to one song -- Azonto is a total cultural dancing phenomenon.
Unlike standard soul/urban line dances, Azonto uses the upper body to communicate and tell stories, usually of work related tasks or comic twists on one's love life. It's very much in the tribal line dance mode but danced with the engagement usually reserved for Break Dancing or Hip Hop. Huge in Ghana from schools to churches to street corners; big in the Afrobeat scene in London...
But, you see, my funk routine can be danced to Azonto music wonderfully. It fits.

How about that!

Since my passion for Funk is getting obsessive I'm now on this thrilling musical journey which is being fed by a keen interest in the Washington based sub genre of Funk, Go-Go.

And now I'm in West Africa too!

Funk can really take you places. 

Many places as you chase da moves for da grooves.

But hey! I love Go-Go, despite the fact that there is little familiarity with Go-Go music outside of the Washington.  Consequently, there are few records to be had, little commercial success  enjoyed by  go-go bands  and the genre survives primarily as live a dance hall music with an emphasis on  audience call and response.That and congas -- you gotta have ya congas in Go Go.

...and its a complicated dance rhythm imbued with Swing (a la  Duke Ellington) .

I tell ya, dance is a lot of fun. Best way to get into the music is via your feets.




 

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