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Dance in Nigeria; its History and How to Get Started

Entertainment, Cultural Heritage and Language Preservation, are all done by the intricate steps and swerve of Nigerian Dancers’ waists. What is dance in Nigeria?

Dance in Nigeria; its History and How to Get Started

What is Dance in Nigeria?

Dance is an unsung hero of Nigeria, the one that went to battles but has been forgotten. Let me give you something to do. Get a five-naira note and turn it over. Who is that?

A random set of drummers? A random illustration? 


Here we have Nwankwo Festus, the creator of the Mkpokiti Dance. Mkpokiti dance was a beautiful display that he created. Dance existed before, but they were dance sequences that belonged to tribes. 

The Mkpokiti dance was so special that it became a United Nations Gold Medal of Culture Exhibitions and graced the back of a five naira note.

Here we see dance as much more than a party activity, we see dance as a part of cultures, its greatness leading to cultural preservation and worthy of international recognition.

We also see dance function as a language, a mode of communication as entrenched in the expressive moves of the Sharo dance, a Fulani cultural display in which the brazen youths continue to tell the story of feats long achieved.

And not to be a party pooper, the importance of dance in the entertainment industry cannot be over-emphasized. What is a trending Afro song without a groovy dance step to accompany it? And what is Owambe without Gbedu and jive? As Afrobeats take the world by storm, variations of Afro-dance are spreading. From Afro-pop to Afro-Fusion, Afro-buck, and African Contemporary, dance in Nigeria is an industry that needs to be looked into.

What is Dance in Nigeria?

The Problem, we still have not answered our question, What is Dance In Nigeria?

Dance in Nigeria is a medley of culture, history and entertainment pushed forward by passionate individuals. There is little in the way of professional training, as many dancers learn in the streets and from observing others.

How Do I Get to Dance In Nigeria?

As mentioned before, a lot of professional dancers in Nigeria started off in the streets, with dancing contests at Owambes and special presentations in church/school. 

We see a handful with training from Dance/Ballet Clubs in school, and cultural dance training happening at playtime among peer groups. Becoming a dancer in Nigeria has no clear mapped-out path, but here are some milestones you would need to cover:

  • Pick A Genre
  • Train
  • Network
  • Perform


Nigeria is a diverse country, with slightly over 350 tribes. We have modern societies and interact with the rest of the globe, bringing us information from all over. It’s safe to say that there are a lot of options to pick from. 

We can categorize the genres as this:

Cultural Dance in Nigeria

Here we have dance styles of native tribes and indigenes, warrior ballads that tell stories of lives past, and the world of a hundred years ago told through mime sequences. We talk about Atilogwu, Ekombi, Osaro, the Bata dance, and Ikpirikpi-ogwu. You can master a number of these and perform at a variety of festivals and events

Afro Variations

Afro dance style is the variety of steps that go best with Afro beats music. From trendy dance to songs to collecting dance styles across Africa, Afro is the most common dance style in Nigeria. A household favorite for Owambe, and performances where the audience has a variety of cultures.  With the way Afro-beats is crossing the globe, Afro-dance is close behind. 

However, there are variations of Afro coming up as Nigerian dancers play around with various dance styles like: 

  • Afro-Fusion
  • Afro-Pop
  • Afro-Buck
  • Afro-Latin
  • African Contemporary

Dance Around The World

Here we have dance genres from around the world. There are studios and schools that provide professional training for these dance genres. These include:

  • Ballet
  • Latin
  • Hip Hop
  • Contemporary
  • And many more.


This brings us to the next point. The average professional dancer acquires years of training in 3 dance genres and more.

Dance is more of a sport than a hobby. To go pro, you have to spend hours training, not just perfecting dance moves and combinations, but building balance, flexibility, and a trained ear for music, stage management, and acting.

The best way to do this is to find a dance community, studio, or school with a professional trainer. This brings us to…


Yes, you can find anything on the internet but with physical activity like dance, it is recommended you find a community near you. It could be a crew, an association, or a studio. 

The more dancers you know, the better a dancer you become. From teaching each other various forms to healthy competition and opportunities for collaboration, truly an important step to becoming a dancer in Nigeria.

‘Where can I find Dance Communities in Nigeria:

  • Schools: Schools tend to have crews and dance clubs. It would be advisable to contact a local Director of Socials
  • Studios: Studios tend to be the meeting point of large groups of dancers. A quick google search will bring up studios near. You can also check gyms and event halls. Anywhere with a lot of open space.
  • Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp communities across states and countries when it comes to dancing communities. You can join one for proximity to your location or your dance genre. Don’t be afraid to join multiple.


Some say you are not a dancer until someone tells you so. Dance is for entertainment. Go out and find the nearest stage, go all out. This way, you get experience and exposure.

You will learn how to charge, how to identify bad jobs, and a lot more, with time, we hope to take you through it. Dance in Nigeria is an untapped gold mine of potential.

Princess Okechukwu

Princess Okechukwu is a Nigerian creative. Former professional dancer, now writer, and entrepreneur, her legacy speaks about being a young African creative, and the struggles of the various industries. She is also a Brand Strategist and a History and International Relations graduate. She stands between the crossroads of storytelling, copywriting, education, and entertainment. As a creative, she has danced professionally for a number of artists and worked as an instructor with Dance Dreamz Studio. As a writer, she has attained a few feats ranging from being shortlisted for the 2018 Lagos Poetry Festival and working as the editor for DanceBlog Ng, MadeInBlacc, and more. Her dance genres range from African Contemporary, Hip Hop, and Vogue, while as a writer, she leans toward poetry, web content creation, and fiction. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria but hails from Oraifite Town in Ekwusigo LGA, Anambra state. As a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, she performed in a variety of events from Freshers’ Nights to training multiple sets for Inductions, school presentations, and more. She began writing professionally in 2018 as a freelancer. Over time, she has written for various companies across the world and in multiple niches. She is an official member of the Anambra Literary Society and Poets In Nigeria. Princess is a versatile woman, once awarded Most Talented Girl, she spreads her wings across her dreams, currently a two crown holder on the Modelling and Pageantry scene, she is an icon in dance fashion, and brand representation.