Tag Archives: East Africa

Mask of the Spring Water: Dance as a Source of Culture in Africa

KALLVATTNETS MASK was first published in Swedish in 1983; and this is the first English translation, by Rachelle Puryear and Hakar Lovgren. The author, Birgit Akesson (1908-2001) was a legendary figure, an innovative modern dancer and choreographer, and a teacher and researcher. This is her very personal documentation of traditional African dance in a number of societies in East, West and Central Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. She travelled extensively in Africa, with stays in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and the Republic of Congo. She presents a unique body of material, analysed from her special vantage point. Her search for the essence of dance, the source beyond language or expression that was universal for true dance, had its point of departure in dance as an essential part of human existence. In opposition to many art historians, anthropologists and ethnologists, she experienced the dance, the masks, the music and the social interaction as intrinsic elements of a totality. In many instances, what she was allowed to see then may no longer exist, making her observations a valuable historical record of the state of traditional African dance in the mid-1900s.

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