Many dances of Africa came to America with individuals who were brought over during slavery, along with the defining characteristic elements of African dance expression. The two most common organizing structures of African dances were the line and the circle. Space was left by the participants, both temporal and physical, to allow for individual expression. The space left in the center of a circle dance, like a ring dance, was a whirlpool of power and spiritual energy. The individual who stepped into the allotted space demanded the surrounding community's support and attention. Music style, frenzied behavior, holy dancing, and spirit possession are all important traits of African dancing. The goal of the dances was gaining the help of the supernatural in dealing with the natural world in which they cannot control or do not understand. Complex rhythms coordinated by drum beat and emphasized by swaying or jerking bodies and stamping feet often dominated African dances. The dances often emulated people, animals, or events occurring in nature, as well as incorporating movements considered sexually suggestive by white puritanical...
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