Monday, March 19, 2012


I came across a video the other day that made me get up out my chair and slow clap.

Here she is. Elvyna. (Mokobe Dance)

In all her glory, this little blonde French girl is busting a move. I admire her audacity.
After watching, I shared the video, and to my surprise, there was feedback like "Umm, don't you think that's a bit too sexual for a child?" and "Eww, she's grinding."

Huh? Did I miss something? I mean, girly was shaking her bum and all, but I didn't see this as sexual at all! This lead me to wonder how ethnocentric we've truly become. Despite our multiculturalism, we seem to still carry the views of our whiter, more sexually shamed forefathers. Don't get me wrong, if I saw two kids grinding on a dance floor, I'd put a halt to it, but this little girl dancing is nothing like that. This is just African Dance. So why does it freak us out?

There is a reason I love dance. It is freeing. It is an expression of the soul (yes, even the Running Man). It is something so tied to our humanity. Every time we dance, we honour various parts and needs of ourselves. That's why I love African Dance specifically. Where the sexually repressed see this piece as imitating a sexual act, African dancers believe in using the whole body. The arms, the legs, the feet, the pelvis, and the bum, all have equal purpose. The hands and feet cannot move without the midsection. Simple stuff. It is as if they see sexuality as innate, born unto all of us, but more as a life force, an energy. One that needs to come out. IT IS IN US TO MOVE.

We Euro/White-dominant cultures don't boogie like we used to. We have been taught through the centuries to hide away certain regions of our body out of shame. To move less. To cover up and pray for forgiveness. To step away from what has been ignorantly labeled as "primitive". Before colonization, rape, mass murder and so much cultural destruction, African people expressed a spirituality and understanding of the body that was untainted by outside influence. There was a lot less shame attached to certain body parts.

But after thousands of years of brainwashing, what was natural, became perverse. Early colonizers did everything to remove our associations from our African roots. The mind became more worthy than the body. To them, the mind showed us we were greater than the other animals. The body reminded us that we were not. We had felt so powerless to nature for so long. We didn't want to any more. We wanted to WIN. The mind was seen as our way out. So, we disconnected the body from the mind, valuing one and condemning the other. Dance used the body. Therefore, dance was evil. Expression, sinful. And in that moment, our self-hatred snowballed.

But people like Elvyna give me hope; hope that we will come back to what is in our soul. Using the mind and body together is the only way we can allow the soul to speak.

So, to me, Elvyna is honouring humanity before humanity became less human. She moves as freely as our early ancestors did, pre-shaming. Doing what her body wants to, without restriction. Elvyna is not held down by the issues we adults are riddled with. She is just having fun. Something we have forgotten to do.

That deserves another slow clap.