• Learn about the fundamentals of West African dance.

  • Learn about the meaning, origins, and rhythms of Kou Kou.

In this 30 minute virtual class, participants of any age will learn a beginner level traditional West African dance. Participants will explore Kou Kou, an exciting and fun dance done for many celebrations! Originally this dance was done when women returned to their villages from fishing. Participants will learn the meaning, origin and the rhythm that accompanies the Kou Kou dance. Participants will need only themselves and about a 6 x 6’ space to engage in this activity. Young children between the ages of three and six will need assistance from an adult. We will begin with a warm-up then dive into our lesson where we will learn simple but fun choreography. We will close out with review of the dance and a cool down with relaxed movements, deep stretching and breathing!

Find the lesson outline here

Materials Needed

  • Participants will need a 6′ x 6′ space to fully explore the movements.

  • (Optional) An external speaker to use make it easier to hear the activity.

  • (Optional) A wrap traditionally used in African dance.

About the creator

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Ebony Naimah Zanuwa

Ebony Naimah Zanuwa-Castaphney was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Ebony is mother to three children. Motherhood did not stop her from obtaining her degree in Early Education and Childhood Development. Degree aside, she has also worked with children for over a decade in many different settings. Her work focuses on building confidence and working through emotions by including a mixture of arts such as poetry, vocal expressions and dance. She views her work as a form of therapy, as these are the same vehicles that have helped her overcome difficulties. During her work with youth she also finds it important to mentor and guide youth to making positive decisions.

Ebony Naimah Zanuwa is a Muslim artist who has had to find her way through the red tape and views her art as a worship. Art is a way to help herself and others by bringing joy to herself and others. Over the years she has been involved in works with many artist groups and has taken many classes that have brought awareness to other cultural expressions and their histories. These include African American music institute where she took vocal lessons and learned a variety of negro spirituals. She has sung Broadway throughout her schooling, traditional hymns and gospel in a mixture of church choirs. In 2011 Ebony joined the Legacy Arts Project that focuses on Diasporic dance and other art expressions. Through the Legacy Arts Project she has studied Haitian, Caribbean, South African, Cuban, west African, and Black/African American. In 2012 Ebony joined the Balafon West African Dance Ensemble, she explored many authentic African cultural songs, dances, and has become knowledgeable of their history. Ebony has also become familiar with Congolese, modern, hip-hop, belly dance and has been able to dive deeper into African/Black American pre and post slavery song and dance as well. Connecting to her own cultural roots and displaying black pride throughout her artistry is of extreme importance. Ebony currently works on ways to connect therapy and dance as she firmly believes that dance is a therapy and seeks to elevate its benefits for those who need healing.