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1 July 2019 / leggypeggy

Dance of the Panther—an athletic extravaganza

Korhogo was one of those overland stops with a bit of everything. We saw cloth being woven and decorated, granite being chipped, bead making, wood being carved, a typical village, and some amazing traditional dancing.

We’d been told that the dances were quite athletic, but you can never be exactly sure what that means. Turns out the star attraction is the Boloye, or the Dance of the Panther. The name stems from the fact that dancers wear costumes that are reminiscent of panther fur. And the dance is definitely energetic.

Dance of the Panther, Ivory Coast

An airborne dancer

Dance of the Panther, Ivory Coast

Airborne again

Historically, the Boloye was a sacred dance of the Sénoufo (Senufo) community in the Ivory Coast. It used to be performed only at funerals and possibly at initiation rites, but now it’s more widely shown. It must be highly regarded because photos of this type of dance were featured on tourist posters throughout the region.

We saw the dance performed in the village of Waraniéné. 

The event started with an ad hoc dance by children. It went on for about 15 minutes with the assembled band providing music. Eventually, some of these kids will be part of the main attraction, but that day they were improvising. It was great fun to see their moves.

One thing you might notice from the pics of the kids dancing is that people carry babies on their backs. We saw that all over Africa—this time and 10 years ago. Women, children and sometimes men wrap a cloth around their waists to hold their babies securely on their backs. It’s a fantastic way to do hands-free carrying. I’m surprised it has never caught on in the West.

Kids dancing, Ivory CoastKids dancing, Ivory Coast

But back to the main performance. 

The all-male band had about 15 members. That said, a few other men wore the same blue and white shirts and black and white beanies as the band members, but seemed to have more of a managerial role.

I’m pretty sure the instruments were the shekere, a gourd covered in netting and wooden beads, and a larger drum, that looks a bit like a kora but doesn’t appear to have 21 strings. I haven’t been able to find a name for the latter instrument.

A shekere, African instrument

Our guide shows us a shekere up close

Musicians for the Dance of the Panther, Ivory Coast

The band plays and sings

I’m guessing that most of the costumes were made of cotton, and you can see that they were dyed in earthy colours, as well as black. Their ankles were decorated with grass or wool (not sure which) and they had twigs for hands.

There were nine masked dancers, presumably all male. I believe the small one was a child. They entered single file and did an introductory routine (shown in the first video). You can see how they greet/acknowledge each of the band members, as well as the audience in general. You’ll see one dancer shoo a couple of children away from the ‘dance floor’.

Dance of the Panther, Ivory Coast

The youngest performer

Dance of the Panther, Ivory Coast

The most elaborate costume

All the dancers then sat on the ground off to the left and performed one by one. In the last video, you can see how they greet/acknowledge their fellow dancers before each performance. You’ll also see just how athletic these guys are.

Each dancer did at least three routines and while some were more complicated and athletic than others, they were all excellent and well timed. I was especially impressed by how well the dances and music complemented one another. Clearly these are routines that are well rehearsed.

 

 

44 Comments

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  1. Vicki / Jul 1 2019 2:23 pm

    Super photos and the costumes were fabulous.

    The Dancers timing was amazing too. Thanks for sharing, Peggy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 1 2019 5:22 pm

      We’ve seen three special dance performances and I look forward to sharing the other two.

      Like

  2. klmalcolm2014 / Jul 1 2019 3:13 pm

    WAY COOL

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Alison and Don / Jul 1 2019 3:40 pm

    Fabulous photos. This must have been amazing to see!
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

  4. thewonderer86 / Jul 1 2019 4:55 pm

    My goodness! Quite incredible.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. fragglerocking / Jul 1 2019 4:59 pm

    Amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. paolsoren / Jul 1 2019 5:03 pm

    That was fantastic Peggy. Is this usually only performed for visitors or does it happen even if you are not there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 1 2019 5:31 pm

      I’ve read that it was traditionally performed at funerals but now has much wider exposure.

      Like

  7. beetleypete / Jul 1 2019 6:02 pm

    Those dancers in the full costumes must get very hot, I suspect. And the last guy seemed to have inspired both Michael Jackson, and break-dancing too. 🙂
    I am sure that women in Europe carried babies in cloths too. At least until they could afford to buy baby slings and backpacks. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 1 2019 9:49 pm

      I agree that those costumes must be hot, especially with all the exercise. I wonder about the baby slings. I’ve only ever seen them in Africa.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. derrickjknight / Jul 1 2019 6:26 pm

    Wonderful post. Marvellous rhythm in the music

    Liked by 2 people

  9. gigglingfattie / Jul 1 2019 8:55 pm

    WOW! Those were fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing with us, Peggy! Was this something that was just happening and you stumbled upon it or was it special for your group?

    Babywearing is becoming more popular here in Canada! Almost all my friends who have had babies have used slings to carry. I think it’s a great addition to our parenting skills – it creates a bond with the baby and, as you said, it offers hands-free options for the adult.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 1 2019 9:50 pm

      The performance we saw was put on just for us (and all the hangers-on from nearby villages). But I think the dance is performed quite widely.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. dreamweaver333 / Jul 2 2019 2:15 am

    Reblogged this on dreamweaver333.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Phil Huston / Jul 2 2019 7:25 am

    I wanted more from the big tubby string bass gourds. But I grew up in Oklahoma and spent my summers in New Mexico so I’m a long time fan of crazy dancing in big fuzzy anklets. So some tourists are trying to sleep in Africa, and the drums are going non stop. For a couple of days. They ask the tour guide, “Will they ever stop with the drums?” And the tour guide’s eyes got really big and he shook his head “No, No bwana. When drums stop means time for bass solo.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 2 2019 8:10 am

      Okay, I’ll confess. One of my favourite things is listening to the drums in Africa. Sadly not nearly as many as when I first travelled the continent in 1977.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sartenada / Jul 2 2019 6:59 pm

    Amazing acrobatics! Thank You.

    Have a good day!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. chattykerry / Jul 3 2019 6:05 am

    Those photographs are amazing – you captured the excitement and vibrancy.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jeanleesworld / Jul 3 2019 8:43 pm

    What a cool moment to capture! Those costumes look like they’d hinder the dancing, but clearly that’s not the case 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 3 2019 9:05 pm

      Great point Jean. The costumes were no hindrance at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld / Jul 3 2019 11:20 pm

        Especially considering how they cover the entire body. Their ability to move in these is really impressive.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Chris Riley / Jul 4 2019 7:48 am

    Some amazing memories there Peggy. I tried a soft back carrrier for my daughter. Not so safe in houses full of doorways! Only once did I change direction in a doorway. – the back carrier came off and never went back on again. no damage was done, but that was good luck, not good management. Your photo of the band had me guessing on the third drum along, until I realised what I was looking at was not only a drum, but a leg the same colour as well. Time to get an eye check perhaps….

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 4 2019 8:34 am

      I’m glad your daughter didn’t suffer any damage. Luckily there aren’t many doorways in the villages of West Africa. Let us know how the eye check goes! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. pvcann / Jul 4 2019 4:03 pm

    Fabulous Peggy

    Liked by 1 person

  17. susan@onesmallwalk / Jul 5 2019 1:31 am

    Such an amazing couple of shots of the air-born dancer 🙂 – Cheers – Susan

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 5 2019 2:37 pm

      We were told the dance was athletic and we were pleased that it really was.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. joannereedauthor / Jul 6 2019 12:10 am

    Really different! You captured the energy there, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2019 9:29 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting.

      Like

  19. Sy S. / Jul 6 2019 3:07 am

    I loved the videos you posted (viewed them several times already)… one of the best blogs in years. And the performers able to move around in costumes, flipping (air born), feet and arms all moving to the beat of the musicians drums… !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2019 9:26 am

      So glad you love the videos. I do too. I have two more different dance performances to share.

      Like

  20. barkinginthedark / Jul 10 2019 10:40 am

    WOW! and you were there? Wow again. continue…

    Liked by 1 person

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