Drums and dancing have long been connected in a history of self expression, religious experience, and the coming together of people. Djembes have been used in West Africa in ceremonies, festivals and daily living, requiring participation from everyone in the form of clapping, singing, or dancing. These communal events help foster a sense of togetherness and unity. Through group participation individuals honor the people or event being celebrated. Many of these ceremonies have traditionally been used in celebrations surrounding major life events such as birth and marriage. Today drumming is still used to help build team dynamics and to help people learn to work as part of a group.
Rhythm in music is largely maintained by percussive instruments such as drums. These rhythms are foundational for for the forms of dance that accompany different types of music.A slower beat will lend itself to a slower, more fluid dance. Faster drum beats can help to build excitement, both in the dancer and in the crowd. Drums can create a sense of energy and passion that lends nicely to dance. The expressive and emotive quality of drumming can help to increase the depth of a dance performance, and vise versa. The production, enjoyment, and dance surrounding drum based music make it a great tool for communication among groups of people.
Drumming and dancing can also be tools to bring groups of people together. The blending of musical and dance styles lends to the blending of cultures and the coming together of different people. Afro-Peruvian music was created when African slaves were brought to Peru. The traditions of music and dance blended to form something that is now considered to be a celebrated art form. Salsa is another form of music and dance that represents a coming together of cultures. While it is primarily based on popular Cuban music, salsa music is also comprised of Puerto Rican, Dominican, Columbian, and even American music styles. Salsa music is a fusion of different cultures and influences.
Some Native American cultures used drums and dance together in powerful religious ceremonies. The Menominee people held a belief in the dream dance through a ceremony that combined singing, dancing, and drumming. These ceremonies spread throughout different native populations, creating unity and peace throughout different groups of Native Americans.
While these examples are certainly not exhaustive, they all share a common connection; dance and drumming have long been linked in cultural and traditional practices. Both drumming and dancing are ways of celebrating life that have been linked to expression, religion, and unity. The combination of dance and drum based music can be deeply impactful, linking two forms of expression that add depth to any musician’s or dancer’s artistic performance. Both of these art forms have been used historically in celebrations and the peaceful uniting of different peoples. Dancing and drumming are innately communicative, and can help to foster positive relations and experiences within groups and within the individual.