Value Of Owigiri Dance

Project and Seminar Material for Theatre Arts

Value Of Owigiri Dance


Dance, as one of the performing arts is mostly used for entertainment. In this case, the art form is largely seen as an aesthetic enterprise with little or no utilitarian value. However, some dances, in spite of their being aesthetic are influenced by utilitarian components or movements. This is the situation with the owigiri dance which was initiated as an aesthetic work of art is driven by other traditional dances. These traditional dances such as penge, abo, agene, owu, konkonba, osundu and feletei have cultural annotations and interpretations. The appreciation of the owigiri performance therefore as an aesthetic art, especially at social gatherings should always be done with cultural interpretations of movements and materials used in the dance. This is the legitimate way the owigiri dance can be appreciated wholly as a means of communication.

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title Page
  • Declaration
  • Approval
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of Content
  • Table Of Content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background Of Study
  • 1.2 Objective Of The Study
  • 1.3 Rationale For The Study
  • 1.4 Significance Of The Study
  • 1.5 Research Methodology

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 Concept Of Culture
  • 2.2 Dance: Origin, Concept And Functions
  • 2.3 Dance: Nigerian Society And Theatre

Chapter Three

3.0 The Ijaw People And Owogori Dance

  • 3.1 A Brief Survey Of The Ijaw Ethnic Group
  • 3.2 Geography
  • 3.3 Traditions Of Origin, Migrations And Settlements
  • 3.4 Pre-Colonial Economic System
  • 3.5 Pre-Colonial Political System
  • 3.6 Pre-Colonial Social And Cultural Practices

Chapter Four

4.0 Aesthetics And Socio-Cultural Function Of Owigiri Dance

  • 4.1 Owigiri Dance And Its Expressive Modes
  • 4.2 Social Importance And Function Of Owigiri Dance

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary And Conclusion

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • References

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background Of  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.

Dance is usually seen as a medium through which information, messages and ideas are communicated by the dancer’s body to onlookers. The dancer engages in movement patterns which are often symbolic and sometimes reflect some true life situations. According to Bakare (1994: 2), dance “…is used to communicate; put across a message; express a thought”. This introduces us to the human factor of dance. It is in this vein that Hanna (1980: 3) sees dance as “human behaviour”.

Such behaviour mostly is reflective of the cultural norms of the dancer. Hanna explains further that “dance is cultural behaviour” of a people, it communicates their values, attitudes, and beliefs (Hanna 1980: 3). Such cultural behaviour of dance highlights different world views of the performer which Harper declares as religious, ritual or ceremonial; social organisation; political organisation; economic or occupational; history or mythology; educational; recreational and entertainment (Harper 1968: 6). All these factors inhabit the body of the dancer; they determine the manner of his or her movement. Any traditional Nigerian dance may exhibit some or all of these mannerism; these mannerism are always communicated as the dance is performed.

The cultural behaviour of Nigerian dance does not rely on the movement of the body alone. There is display of various expressive modes of culture; these are usually incorporated into the dance. As a matter of fact, most Nigerian dances cannot survive on the dancers’ movement alone. These cultural modes are appurtenances to dance movement, and together, dance is able to communicate ideas to the comprehension of the audience. These expressive modes are captured by different scholars, for instance, Monyeh (2007:111) observe them as of mime, costume, makeup, music and song. For Ogene (2007: 196) they are sculpturing, painting, ceramics, graphics, and textiles. Anigala (2005: 29) sees Nigerian dance as expressing characters, mime, mask and music. Graft (1976: 9) mentions mime and music in dance while Osanyin (1988: 154) observes the incorporation of music, dance, poetry, masking and topicality. Adedeji (2000: 139) notes the inclusion of mimetic masks, chants, song, gesture, costume, myths, legends, folktales, sculptures and other artistic manifestations. Nzewi (1981: 433) also observe the expression of mime, gymnastics and acrobatics and Monyeh (2007: 111) notices the expression of movement, mime, costume, makeup, music and song in Nigerian dance performance. All these modes are subsumed into Nigerian traditional dance performance where they become living arts (Osanyin: 1988: 155).

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 these situations.

1.3 Rationale For The Study

This study is centered 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 does one show the value of the Owigiri dance to the public and to 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 literary 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.

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary And Conclusion

5.1 Summary

The owigiri dance of Bayelsa State as a social performance is mainly used for entertainment. It is composed of other Izon dance patterns such as abo, agene, penge, owu, konkonba, osundu and feletei. These dances are full-fledged dance forms in their own rights and are laden with symbolic gestures. These symbolic gestures with the accompaniment of costume, makeup, props and other expressive modes are used to communicate ideas, messages and philosophies of the dances to spectators. The study examined the expressive modes of owigiri dance as a unit as well as the expressive patterns of the dance styles that make-up the owigiri dance form; and in essence explain the value of the owigiri dance

5.2 Conclusion

In conclusion, the creation of the owigiri dance was inspired by the music of I. K. Belemu. Originally the dance was conceived as a social dance mainly for partygoers. The penge movement was solely adopted to demonstrate the dance at the initial stage of its conception. However, with time, other existing dances such as agene, abo, penge, owu, konkonba and osundu were later embraced and influenced the performance of the dance as a form. The success or performance of owigiri dance is entirely dependent on these component dance patterns; these dances makeup the structures of the owigiri dance form.

Incidentally, owing to the popularity of the dance, a number of Izon musicians like King Robert Ebizimor, Grand Master Pereama Freetown, Barrister S. Smooth, Alfred Ezonebi, Abraham Young, Intelligence Emeka Odogu and a host of other emerging musicians have been composing and producing their music under the influence of the owigiri concept.It is interesting to note that the several traditional dances which could be experienced mostly at festivals are now freely done in the owigiri dance. All ritual and cultural connotations embedded or associated with these dances can now be communicated through the owigiri dance.

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