Thursday 16 February 2017

Swange Dance from Benue State

Nigeria is a country with so many different cultures and diverse languages. One of them is the Tiv people from Benue state (the food basket of the Nation) located in the middle belt area of Nigeria. Benue state is named after the River Benue. The Tiv people are from the middle-belt region of Nigeria. They constitute approximately 2.5% of Nigeria's total population, and over 6 million individuals throughout Nigeria and Cameroon. The Tiv are one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria and they are the dominant ethnic group in Benue state. Tiv language is spoken by about 6 million people in Nigeria, and a few speakers in Cameroon. The Tiv people are very friendly, cheerful and hospitable. They are famous for their rich cultural heritage, one of which is the Swange dance.

Swange is the name given to the traditional dance of the Tiv-speaking people of Benue state. It originated from Benue state, among the Tiv, Igala and Idoma people, an area located around the River Niger. The dance is characterized by rhythmic contortion in slow mode & vibrant display, typical of African dance forms. It has wonderful beat and beautiful rhythm. It is heavily percussion- based, aided by a traditional horn (Al-Gaita), which blows in an unbroken succession for as long as the drumming, singing and dancing continue.

Swange is a very popular Tiv music/dance which is played all over Tiv land and wherever they reside in large numbers. It is a contemporary, popular and urban recreational social dance that exhibits bodily movement akin to oriental dances. It is a dance with fast, slow, rhythmic and undulating movements, expressing youth and vigor which makes some refer to it as the 'boneless dance'. It is danced in unison by both men and women. The dance uses the circle formation familiar in village dances and adapts traditional musical themes to highlife rhythms played on a combination of Tiv and Hausa instruments. The climax of an evening of Swange dance is provided by a solo dancer who improvises freely, using movements from many Tiv dance styles.

Swange dance is performed at various types of social and religious functions for the enjoyment of the old and the young. The dance is very popular and it is done in most festivals and other social events around the country. The dance particularly exhibits fluidity in body movement, a mimicry of the flow of the River Niger. The dance has been made more popular with the emergence of the musical duo, Zulezoo whose popular debut song 'Kerewa" featured Swange in its musical video. Zulezoo warmed the dance style into the hearts of many. The swange dance has brought fame to both the state and the nation.

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