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Zaouli de Manfla: The Zaouli dance of the Ivory Coast, West Africa

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Zaouli de Manfla, a mask dance from the Gouro or Kweni culture, filmed by African dance teacher Konan Kouakou David in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. Of the tradition, he writes:

Zaouli is a popular mask dance created by Gouros in the fifties. Legends at the origin of the Zaouli mask and dance are diverse, but all say that they were inspired by a very beautiful girl named “Djela Lou Zaouli”, daugther of Zaouli…

Each Gouro village has its local Zaouli dancer, who performs during funerals or parties. A musicians and singers orchestra first call the Zaouli dancer by its music. The dancer wearing the mask covered by a cloth then arrives after a predecessor who unveils the mask. After the beauty of the mask has been shown to the audience, the dancer performs extremely quick and rhythmical steps according to the flutes of the orchestra. Hands and feet follow a common choreography improvised by the dancer according to the music.

Watch more examples of Zaouli dancing in this short by The Mask Collective:

Watch more videos about costumes and dance traditions, including Māori dancers of New Zealand performing a Haka dance and San Francisco’s Kei Lun Lion Dancers.

h/t Boing Boing.

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