Five Nigerian Most Popular Music Dances


Dance has been a central part of Nigerian music history. Esi-Kinni Olusanyin, an African-American ethno-musicologist, notes that the dancer’s body incorporates the sensibilities and direct dynamics of expression, translating them into movements that correspond to the music. In Nigeria, dancers such as Dodo Mayana, Tessy Yembra, Kaffy Shafau, and Soliat Bada have added color to performances by musicians, gaining fame and acclaim with their dance moves. Some dances have even outlasted the popularity of the songs they were named after, becoming waves of their own.

One of the most popular Nigerian dances is the Alanta, which originated from a song by an obscure Ajegunle musician, Peter Alanta. However, it was the Artquake version that gave the song and dance massive popularity in 2008 and 2009. The song become one of the biggest hits of 2013 and popularized the accompanying dance. Notably, famous figures like Emmanuel Adebayor and Samuel Eto’o even shared videos of themselves performing the dance. Skelewu’s widespread popularity ultimately led to a nomination for Most Gifted Dance Video at the 2014 Channel O Music Video Awards.

Another popular dance is the Skelewu, which was a hit song by Afrobeats artist Davido. As a promotional gimmick, Davido uploaded an instructional dance video to YouTube, launching the Skelewu Dance Competition and promoting the song and dance. Shakiti Bobo was one of the standout tracks on Olamide’s 2015 album, Eyan Mayweather. The song’s unique beat and Olamide’s catchy lyrics led to the creation of a dance that went viral.

In the mid to late 2000s one of the most popular songs was Yahoozee, released in 2007. The song, which became a massive hit, was performed by Olu Maintain, who had previously been part of the group Maintain. The yahoozee dance was also featured in the gospel music of Yinka Ayefele. Despite its origins in criminality, the dance became a major part of Nigeria’s party culture.

In the mid to late 2000s one of the most popular songs was Yahoozee, released in 2007. The song, which became a massive hit, was performed by Olu Maintain, who had previously been part of the group Maintain. The yahoozee dance was also featured in the gospel music of Yinka Ayefele. Despite its origins in criminality, the dance became a major part of Nigeria’s party culture.

Zanku, another popular dance, first appeared in the music videos of Zlatan’s Jogor and Able God in 2018. Zanku, both the song and the dance, quickly gained popularity in clubs and on radio stations. The dance involves moving the legs in a rapid, rhythmic manner.

In 2014, Lil Kesh, signed to Olamide’s YBNL Nation label, released the song Shoki, which became a national sensation. The accompanying dance features martial arts-like moves, with the dancer stretching out their hand with palm facing up and turning the palm down while covering one eye with the other palm, moving from the shoulders and waist. The song became so popular that a remix featuring Davido and Olamide was made, and even fuji artist Pasuma appeared in the music video.

These dances show how important dance is in Nigerian music, and how it can become a cultural phenomenon on its own, outlasting the songs they were named after.

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