By Osa Amadi
The Anambra State Cultural Troupe lighted the 2020 INAC with two famous vigorous traditional dances – the Ikolodo Dance and the Atilogwu Dance. Vanguard cornered a member of the Troupe, Ojima Juliet, in the middle of the performance and had a revealing chat with her:
“This is Ikolodo,” Ojima said. “Some call it Ikorodo. The dance is actually a maiden dance – maidens who have come of age for marriage learn these different dances. So, at the appropriate time they come out to display their different dance steps and their levels of creativity to the public. In that gathering, that is where the young men of the community come to watch them and as well a pick their brides.
“If you check the dance steps, it is more of waist movements – total body movement; so, the lady needs to show the person that may be coming for her (the prospective suitor) that she is good enough. That is how the dance came about (the origin). But as civilization was taking place, there were additional things (the dance was developing).
Juliet Ojima said there was this story that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe got his bride this way, from the Ikolodo dance, though she said she could not confirm the story. But this writer knows some women, including his own mother, of whom stories had it that their husbands spotted and picked them as brides during skillful dances of traditional music like Abigolo, Nwokorobo, Egwu Udu, Alija, and many other traditional dances in Igbo land which have now gone into extinction.
Fortunately, these ones like Ikolodo have survived and are being nurtured and preserved by different state cultural troupes and events like the International Arts & Crafts Expo (INAC).
Ojima said as we know, the males also dance the dance and music. “For men, its not just to come and pick a bride; you are also expected to show your own dance skills as a man – your masculinity. So, it’s a combination of females and male dancers, though it’s more of a dance for females.”
On how dancers are trained, Ojima said, “because it’s a state troupe, what we do is to research into these traditional dances and then train others to continue it. These dances must not die. Unfortunately, many of our traditional dances are dying. These are the roles of various state Arts Councils and State Troupes – for the preservation and continuity of these cultural treasures of which the Councils are now custodians.
And because these state cultural troupes and councils are custodians of the states’ arts and cultures, they go into the rural areas and get these dances from the elders, then bring them to the fore, teach the younger ones, and now, the dances become parts of our cultural products which can sell out.
Besides the Ikolodo, Anambra State also brought the popular and hyper-energetic Atilogwu Dance which performed for two days the exhibition lasted.