Taking off and being rooted. African dance as a transcultural space of experience
Since the mid-1980s African dance is an established part of an urban body- and leisure culture in Germany. Based on an empirical study of courses and workshops in Berlin with internationally renowned dancers such as Norma Claire, Nago Koité, Koffi Kôkô, and Elsa Wolliaston the author analyzes the corporeal reality of experience in dancing as a combination of physical, social, and imaginary levels of meaning. In doing so she assumes the perspective of the dancers and stresses the poly-rhythmic interaction structures which emerge between dance and music in the case of live drum accompaniment. Sieveking starts from the hypothesis that students of African dance compensate everyday experiences, where they may feel a deficit of the bodily element, in dancing, and she sees the major difficulty in dealing with this topic in ethnographically describing these interwoven "realities of experience". Dance courses in Berlin are described; the experiential dimension of drum music; the interactive dynamics of "taking off" the "method" of "switching off" the head – to dance "with one"s heart", i.e. community-related; transformations in the process of appropriation (empowerment); getting rid of fear and learning to present oneself in dancing.