New Ghanaian dance craze hits the world stage like hurricane

by Kofi Ayim

Boys doing the Azonto

A new dance craze from Ghana has caught up in the dancing and music world with a big bang. For the past several months “Azonto” has hit the world stage, courtesy of the information superhighway – with the same alacrity and “fever” that it hit Ghana about a year ago. The dance was purportedly conceived by Ghana’s international soccer star and budding musician Asamoah Gyan. Together with Castro the Destroyer, the Al Ain FC soccer sensation released a Hiplife song and video under the name Baby Jet where he did the “Asamoah Gyan dance.” That dance later metamorphosed into the “Azonto” craze by Ghana’s international hiplife rapper Sarkodie, who refined and popularized it. The indigenes of Bukom, a suburb of Accra and fishing communities along the Accra coastal area then added a traditional touch.

Azonto thus assumed a traditional touch. Like traditional Ghanaian dances like Adowa and Kete, Azonto conveys simple messages but unlike the former, messages conveyed by Azonto are easier to understand. It is also fast-paced, unstructured and open to improvisation. The dance is gesticulative, teasing, and even provocative. The fast-pace of Azonto has left older people who simply cannot twist and turn behind. The good old highlife of yesteryears still holds true for Ghana’s baby boomers.

The origin of the name “Azonto” is shrouded in mystery. According to a school of thought, Azonto is the name of a god. This speculative thought is shared by those that have perceived Sarkodie as active member of a cult. The famed rapper has, however, denied affiliation with any secret society. Azonto is creative and versatile. These unique qualities make the dance adaptable to diverse environments. Used mostly in celebratory mood, Azonto has penetrated and permeated the spectrum of society in Ghana. It has been used at political rallies, sporting events and, private/public events. It is also gaining grounds in the so-called charismatic churches, where it is christened “Chriszonto.”

The popularity of Azonto among second/third generation Ghanaians in the diaspora is phenomenal, especially at college campuses. But the dance form’s flow and flair can mesmerize an observer. Azonto is now found in the dance halls of East Africa, after its successful debut in the ECOWAS. Ghanaian youth, indubitably has embraced Azonto, perhaps because it is non-ethnic and non-religious.

Only time will tell if Azonto can influence the world and establish itself as a dance that originated in Ghana.



Posted by on Sep 14 2012. Filed under Artcultainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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