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  • Chapter 1 to 5
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The purpose of this project work is to examine the essence of dance in the life of the African using the Esan’s as a case study. Dance is valued highly because it is useful in the life circle of human beings, i.e. right from birth to death. The researcher also went ahead and investigated on how plays an important role in the life of the Africans particularly the Esan people.

This study is so enormous, covering the whole of dance activities and celebration of all African societal. The use of musical instruments makes African dance look real. The more the musical instruments are played the better and more interesting African dance will be, thought the participants should be prayerful and be serious with their researchers.

Dance should be performed in ceremonies like marriages, burials, birthdays, naming ceremonies, entertainment etc.


Chapter One


1.1         Background of the study

1.2         Statement of the problem

1.3         Purpose of the study

1.4         Significance of the study

1.5         Scope of the study

1.6         Methodology

Chapter Two

Literature Review

Chapter Three

The history of okpebho community

3.1.       The history of Igbabonelimin dance

3.2.       The role of Igbabonelimin dance

3.3.       The role of instruments in the dance

3.4.       Costumes and symbolism

Chapter Four

4.1         The age limit of the dancers

4.2         The mode of recruitment

4.3         Some of the songs used in the dance and their meanings

Chapter Five



Definition of terms





According to Innocent Akioya (2006) he stressed that, to a typical African child, music is life. There is music in almost everything that happens around him. His mother sings when washing cloths. The sister sings while sweeping. The father whistles to tune while on the farm. When the family gathers together for a ceremony, singing is done, singing being an important part of music; music is therefore that thing that makes activities around him come alive.

According to Innocent Akinoya (2006) he defined music as sound that please the ears.  According to Abolagba J. A. (2003) he sees music as the combination of organized sounds that is pleasant to the ears. Sound, therefore, is the main source of music. It must be pleasing to the ear, if it is organized, if not it will be regarded as noise.


Abolagba J. A. (2003) defines dance, as an act in its form, is a rhythmic movement to music either along or with a partner or in a group. Dance is also use of the body to communicate a message. However, while drama is rooted in words, music in songs, dance is rooted in body movement. There is this saying that Africans are dancers. This is because Africans dance to any music they listen to:

Dance as an art plays various roles in an individual or group of individuals. This includes:

1.           People dance to glorify God.

2.           People dance to express their feelings

3.           Dance is used for entertainment

4.           People also dance to exercise their bodies.

5.           It is used to appease the gods.


A dancer must master the techniques for his profession, since dance has its own methodology. Also, dance differs from one culture to another. This is why Europeans dance Ballat, while Nigerians have either the Bata dance of the Yoruba, Antilogous of the Igbo or the dance of the Hausa. Each of these different dances have their own peculiarities, hence their techniques must be mastered before they can be performed.

There are some basic denominators that are found in basically all dances. They are the factors that underline techniques. Once they are mastered, the dancer has no problem in dancing. They are the dancers tool, the “body”, the place he occupies during performance either on stage, or on an open area called the “space” the way he responds to rhythm either slowly or very fast called the “time”.


Dance in Nigeria is of two main types, these are: free dance and stylized dance. In the free dancing, there are no specifications as to how each dancers move in terms of space, relationship to other dancers and body movement. Rather, each dancer expresses his inner feeling independent of what other dancers or other parts of the body do.

Stylized dance on the other hand, is concerned with purposeful and uniformity in movements. The movements are planned in such a way that body relationship and individual relationship are all meaningful examples is the atilogwu dance.


Dances can also be categorized along functional line.

1.           Occupational dances

2.           Social dances

3.           Ritual dances


They are associated with or staged or reflect different aspects of Nigerian professions, such as hunting, divination, fishing, farming etc.


This include those staged for social occasions such as wedding, title taking, etc.


This include sango dances, new yam dances, masquerade dances, etc.


Dance has three (3) basic structures. The beginning, the middle and the end.


There are different mathematical formations, which provide the framework for the organisation, position, space and movement of the dancers and the music orchestra or ensemble. These formations are as follows:

a.           Circle formation

b.           Parallel lines formation

i.     Double parallel lines

ii.  Triple parallel lines

iii. Quadruple parallel lines

c.           Single line formation

d.           Semi-circle formation


Dance contains the following components: Music, drama, costume, language and mimes. Music is indispensable in dance because the dancer dances to the rhythm and tempo of music including sudden and planned musical variations.

Drama is used in the form of acting or behaviour or farmers during planting and harvesting activity, paddling a canoe as in EGWU-AMALA of women dancers in Delta State, and in cante dancers of the Efik, Ijaw and Ibibio people. Costumes provides and expressed the external body beauty and gives colour of joy, sadness, gallantry, war, peace, smartness or worship to the dancers and the dance depending on the type of social functions and objectives of the dance.

Language is in the form of words and statements in the vocal line including, commitments, creative speech and recitations associated with a particular. Mime is in the form of gestures by different patterns of facial expression, arm, head and eye movement and signs with the intention to analyze some ideas.


The following are those aspects we considers as we dance.

1.           Awareness of space; in any dance the spacing of dancers are taken into consideration. The kind of dance determines the interval between the dancers.

A good dance; leader should space the dancers, so that they all we be free when dancing and will not hit one another when displaying a particular skills. Spacing of dancers also helps the audience to have a free view of the dancers and be able to identify the best dancer. Also spacing of dancers, gives room for air ventilation. As well as helping the dancers to be able to breath in fresh air for strength in then process of doing this act.

2.           Awareness of time: This is very important to every good dancer. The dancers should be very sensitive, watchful and vigilant in order to know when to come in with the dance. It is when the dancers have the awareness of time, that they will know how many beat to follow and when to stop. They must all stop at the same time and start together.

3.           Awareness of weight: When we talk about weight, we mean the weight of every dancer. Whether they are suffering from obesity or no, it must be considered. This is because the size or weight of a particular dancer will determine the kind of dance he or she can participate in e.g. somebody that is suffering from obesity cannot be chosen for the Esan dance called “Igbabonelimin”. The average people are mostly chosen.

4.           Body awareness: This talk about the physical appearance of people that are involved of an individual will determine what he or she can do better. This is the most important aspect among the others. For example, the disability of a particular person will disturb him or her from doing what his or her mates are doing.


A great number of Africans do not know much about their cultures. They are being influenced by civilization today. Africans now sing like the white men and even dance western dances, neglecting their great cultures. Even in search of books that we can use for research is very difficult to get. Most authors (Africans) do not write books on their different cultures any more because of civilization. This is the reason why there are limited sources of information.

In this study, the researcher would like to create the awareness in Africans to be proud of their culture and to protect their culture for identification.


The purpose of this study are as follows:

1.           To create awareness of the acrobatic dance called “Igbabonelimen” to the public.

2.           To examine the role of music in Igbabonelimin dance.

3.           To identify some of the songs used in Igbabonelimin dance and their meanings.


A survey into the problem of dance with regard to Igbabonelimin. In Esan West local Government of Edo State is much significant to Esan West (okpebho) but to Nigeria in general. The importance of carrying out this study is that, at the end, it could serve as a resource materials to many who want to gain deeper knowledge about the problem of dance and also the benefit of this measure.

This study will encourage the people of Esan West and Africans in general to be more interested in dance and also, to be actively involved. Above all, this piece of work will offer very useful information on dance, and also act, as a source of information to Af4ricans and parents, who are keen in studying or understanding more of African culture or cultural heritage.

1.5       SCOPE OF STUDY

This study would have covered the entire Esan part of Edo state. But due to time and finance, the researcher has decided to restrict her study to Igbabonelimin dance of Okpebho community of Edo State.


In carrying out this study, various research techniques were adopted in the collection of data,. This section looked at oral inter view, field trip and library research.


The researcher employed oral interview to ascertain the information portraying in this study. The researcher visited some communities and villages in Esan West Local Government.


For the purpose of this study, the researcher paid visit to four villages in Esan West Local Government Area. In order for her to watch the Igbabonelimin dancers as they displayed their skills live in the scene. The villages covered were; Irrua, Ogwu, Egoro and Ewu.

This helped the researcher to gather more information for her research work.


For the purpose of this study, the researcher made use of some books written by different authors for research. The research visited different libraries to get more facts.


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