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VALUE OF OWIGIRI DANCE

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1  Background to the Study

Dance is a means of entertainment and communication. It is referred to as a type of art or series of steps and movements that match the speed and rhythm of music. It may be regarded as an expression of human feelings, as a spectacle, an art form, recreation, fitness, drive or social representation of culture.

The famous French critic and choreographer, Jean-George Novere says:

Dancing according to the acceptable definition of the word, is the art of composing steps with grace, precious and facility to the time and bars given in the music. Just as music itself is simply the art of combining sounds and modulation so that they can afford pleasure to the ears [25].

A contemporary definition of dance is one by a dance historian Richard Kraus. He says that:

Dance is an art performed by individuals or groups of human beings in which the human body is the instrument and movement is the medium. The movement is stylised and the entire work is characterised by form and structure [2-3].

Rasaki Ojo Bakare, on his part, sees dance as “the rhythmic movement of the human body in time and space to make statement” [22].  

The above definitions indicate that dance recaptures living experiences. It is a language which exposes the geographical locations, biological temperament, religious beliefs, political and historical experiences, social practices and economic peculiarities of the people that own it.

Dance has gone beyond just the movement of the legs and hands. It generally involves one moving or shaking the body especially when following the rhythm of music. Dance is the transformation of ordinary functional and expressive movement into extraordinary movement form extraordinary purposes. Even a common movement such as walking, when performed in a patterned way. Perhaps in circler or to a special rhythm in a special context becomes dance.

In contemporary society, dance is being studied as an academic work most especially in the university. This is because, apart from the fact that dance is entertaining, there are other factors that lie underneath it and so, many people want to know why it is so important and being treated as an academic discipline. It is for this reason that this study will help us to understand the value of Owigiri dance, Robert Ebizmo’s dances would be used as case study.  

1.2  Objective of the Study

A major objective of this work is to position Owigiri dance in such a way that it competes with modern dances such as hip-hop dance, ballet dance, salsa dance, etc. that are now in vogue. Because of the popularity of these dances, many people have totally forgotten about our African traditional dances. They see traditional dance as waste of time because in their estimation, it is not fun again. They see it as mere entertainment and something to laugh at or ridicule.

This is affecting our society negatively. Although our fore fathers are gone, their memories can live on through special arts like dance. It is worthy to note that in many parts of Ijaw land today, various indigenous dance forms and music are fast disappearing. For instance, the common form of music and dance today is Owigiri. Other forms such as Owusei, kb, Ngusei, Odumu and others are disappearing or have gone into extinction. This means that future generations of Ijaws would not have much musical and dance traditions to lay claim to because our traditional dancers are dying rapidly. This work aims to help correct this situations.

1.3  Rationale for the Study

This study is centred on the benefit of dancing. A major rationale for the research work has to do with some questions that have been agitating the minds of so many people, some of the questions are:

  1. What is the Owigiri dance?
  2. What is the value of it?
  3. How do I show the value of the Owigiri dance to the public and theatre arts students?

Of the different dances the researcher has seen in the theatre, it is noticed that the value of Owigiri dance has not been shown to the public. This will be shown in this research work.

Concerning the first question, what is Owigiri dance? So many people think dance is just having the dancers show their body but this is not the case.

Rasaki Ojo Bakare says:

One discovers that essentials of dance are rhythm, human body, space, time and communication (2).

The greatest tool of dance is the human body. Every body movement is however, not qualified to be called dance. It must have rhythm. Rhythm, is the underlying beat that animates movements.

This is where the time comes in. rhythm is created when the movement happen at specific times. Without timing, there can be no rhythm and without rhythm dance cannot occur. Owigiri is a dance that has to do with rhythm, time, space movement.

On the second question, what is the value of Owigiri dance?

According to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, value is the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged [1648] values also means importance or relative worth.     

Secondly, what is owigiri? It is the traditional trail dance of the Ijaw people used for entertainment, play, display and celebration. The value of Owigiri dance is tied to other important aspects of Ijaw tradition that makes the Ikaw who they are. This work, hopes, therefore, to convey a proper understanding of what the Owigiri dance is all about.

On the third question, how do I show the value of Owigiri dance to the public and theatre arts students? It is observed that there seems to be a lack of understanding of the different steps of the Ijaw dance that can be used to enlighten the public and theatre arts students. These are the things that stimulated the interest to investigate this subject.

1.4  Significance of the Study

The importance of carrying out this research work is to provide an understanding of the value of Owigiri dance to the public and theatre arts students. It hopes to open the eyes of theatre arts students and the public to the various dance steps that can impact on a production of particulars importance, students offering dance classes would find this work very useful. The work would also be useful to the general reader who may want more knowledge on this subject.

1.5  Research Methodology

This study will make use of the literary methodology. According to Sam Ukala in Manual of Research and of Thesis Writing in Theatre Arts,

This is also called the analytical methodology. It focuses on written and printed library and archival sources, especially books, journals, reports, literary works, such as plays, novels. [13]    

The literarily methodology would be used in this work to investigate the value of Owigiri dance and how it can be used in the theatre.

Also, the artistic methodology would be used as the researcher will carry out a practical component to this work. 

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