• Posted on 2023-07-12
  • Culture
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  • Written by Jennymira


This dance has been performed by various artists of different ethnic groups and religions, thereby, breaking ethnic boundaries and uniting the nation for the benefit of all.
It is a vibrant and energetic dance form that holds deep cultural and spiritual significance within the Yoruba community and has been an integral part of their rituals and ceremonies for centuries.

The dance is traditionally performed alongside the ‘Bata’ drums, which are believed to have supernatural powers and serve as a medium of communication with the Yoruba deities or orishas.

Over time, the dance has transcended its traditional roots and found its way into the realm of modern dance artistry, influencing and inspiring numerous Yoruba artists to incorporate this captivating dance form into their performances. These artists have recreated and modernised this dance to reflect their stories, struggles and their hopes.

Origin and Cultural Significance: ‘Bata’ has its roots in the Southwestern region of Nigeria, particularly, among the Yoruba people. The dance is closely associated with the worship of the orishas, the deities of the Yoruba pantheon.

According to Yoruba mythology, the ‘Bata’ drums were given to the Yoruba people by the orisha, Oba, who is believed to be the custodian of the drums. The drums are considered sacred, and their rhythms are believed to possess spiritual powers, capable of summoning and appeasing the orishas. Hence, worshippers in this regard have a special value for this dance.

In traditional Yoruba society, it is performed on various occasions such as festivals, coronations, weddings, funerals, and other significant cultural events. The dance serves as a medium of communication between the human and spiritual realms, allowing individuals to connect with the orishas and seek their blessings, guidance, and protection.

The rhythmic movements, intricate footwork, and expressive gestures of it convey stories, emotions, and spiritual messages, making it a unique and captivating art form.

Incorporation Into Modern Dance Artistry: In recent times, ‘Bata’ has evolved beyond its traditional boundaries and has found its place in the realm of modern dance artistry. Yoruba artists have embraced the fusion of tradition and modernity, incorporating ‘Bata’ into their performances, thereby, enriching the contemporary dance landscape and elevating their culture.

One notable Yoruba artist who has played a significant role in incorporating ‘this modern dance artistry is Segun Adefila. Adefila is a renowned Nigerian choreographer and founder of the Crown Troupe of Africa, a contemporary dance theatre company based in Lagos.

He has skillfully integrated ‘Bata’ into his choreographic works, blending traditional African dance forms with contemporary movements and themes. Adefila’s choreographies often explore social, political and cultural issues, utilising ‘Bata’ as a powerful medium of expression and storytelling.

Another influential Yoruba artist, who has incorporated dance into modern art form is Qudus Onikeku. Onikeku is an internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and founder of the QDanceCentre in Lagos.

His works often fuse various styles, including ‘Bata’, with elements of contemporary dance, hip-hop, and other forms of movement. Onikeku’s choreographic language bridges the gap between tradition and modernity, creating captivating performances that resonate with audiences worldwide.

The incorporation of ‘Bata’ into modern dance artistry goes beyond the work of individual artists. Dance companies and groups in Nigeria and beyond have also embraced this dynamic dance form.

These artists and organisations have recognised the power of ‘Bata’ as a cultural heritage and have taken it upon themselves to preserve and promote it through contemporary interpretations. By incorporating this art form into their performances, these artists and groups ensure that this rich tradition continues to thrive and evolve in the modern world.

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