Song and Dance: How various songs popularised dances - Daily Nation

Song and Dance: How various songs popularised dances

Saturday January 13 2018

Since its invention earlier this year, the Odi

Since its invention earlier this year, the Odi dance challenge has become a viral internet phenomenon, transcending the Kenyan border, thanks to career dancer James Owidhi, better known as Timeless Noel. PHOTO| DENNIS ONSONGO 

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Song and dance have always gone together like bread and butter, but there are songs in particular that were made big because of the dance. Boniface Nyaga examines these intriguing phenomenon of the dance that made the song


Although choreographers are considered an important part of a performance, they still largely remain an accompaniment to the main dish.

No one ever even remembers that there is someone in the background who actually creates the moves we love to unleash on the dance floor. However, there are dances that have over the years become so iconic that they overshadow the songs.

Here then are the dances that made the songs.



The song was written by industry veteran Collo and newcomer Newton ‘Bruz’ Kamau but it was the iconic moves that made the song what it is today. The moves were designed by members of Newton’s crew Bazokizo and Omosh.

The dance has been replicated by thousands online and become arguably one of Kenya’s most recognisable dance moves globally. It involves a series of complicated moves with back and forth movement and several hand movements.

Despite the complexities of the moves, many have learnt it and enjoyed it, aided by the lyrics of the song which are very instructional.



His entire music career was made by his dance and Michael Jackson remains the king of pop to date. Of all the moves he made on stage, the moonwalk is arguably the most iconic. Countless aspiring artistes have moonwalked in front of their bedroom mirrors with hopes and dreams of being as big as Michael one day.

To execute the dance move, the dancer moves backwards while seemingly walking forwards.

The popping move, became popular around the world after Michael Jackson first performed it during a performance of Billie Jean on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever on March 25, 1983. This special was broadcast May 16, 1983 and subsequently became his signature move.



You know a dance move is popular when 60-year-old grandfathers start asking their grandchildren what Zigwembe is. It was created by the choreographers of Bazokizo and it took Kenya by storm.

The follow-up track catapulted Newton from dancer to hit maker, elevating the importance of dance in the music. The comical dance emphasises the lyrics of the song with the most iconic move coming up at the chorus.

Though it has been criticised in certain quarters for making light of the gospel, the song has deep lyrical content and very memorable dance moves.



Dance has always been a critical part of Congolese music from the days of Tabu Ley. He also created a hugely successful back-up dancer group “Les Rocherettes”, which included the sensual and honey-voiced Mbilia Bel who later became a legend on her own.

Following in this path, Koffi Olomide has given us many dances in his career, most memorable of which was Selfie. It gained national significance when the Kenyan Rugby 7s team used it to celebrate their historic win at the Singapore circuit.

The dance was also used in several parodies to make fun of the artiste especially after his scandal where he kicked a dancer on camera.



It became a global hit when American mega star Chris Brown included it in his choreography; giving credit to the power of African dances.

The dance originated from a traditional dance called Kpanlogo, associated with the coastal towns in Ghana such as Chorkor, James Town, La, Teshie, Nungua and Tema, in the greater Accra region. It took over the dance floor when Fuse ODG and Tifanny released their mega hit and remains an iconic dance to date.

The dance involves a leg movement that almost looks like a Michael Jackson moon walk.



As an old hip hop adage goes, Gangsters don’t dance they boggie. Rap music is famous for flows and punch lines not moves and breaks. However there’s always that hip hop head who breaks from the pack and releases a dance song.

In it’s days, ‘Lean back’ became the dance anthem for gangsters and all aspiring gangsters especially because it didn’t need a lot of dancing any way.



It is probably the twerk anthem of the century and possibly the reason you rarely see ladies’ faces in dancehalls these days. As the name suggests, the dance is done by a couple, with the girl gyrating while bending over.

The song defined the twerk craze long before Miley Cyrus’s famous MTV MVA twerk in 2013. As the name suggests, dancehall music has always been about the dance; it’s what has defined the genre from the get go.

There are many that came before it and many more after, but we can definitively say that all have been bending over to the trend began by this mega hit.



They say that white man can’t dance, but thanks to Silento he can at least nae nae. The song became a mega hit thanks to countless people uploading videos of themselves whipping and nae nae.

The entire song is a tribute to various dance styles but for some reason it became very popular among white folk both old and young.

The dance was so big that Hillary Clinton broke out into nae nae when she appeared on the Ellen show. All the same it’s a great anthem for white or black, young and old to just break off into nae nae.



It probably traces its roots from the 90’s dance of kuku dance but late last year it took over the dance floor. Though it has reached the high and mighty, even getting mzungus dancing it on youtube, Odi dance is still considered the dance of the ghetto. It’s actually very hilarious to watch and involves small jurking moves that are relatively easy to emulate.

The most hilarious Odi dance on youtube has got to be the one by Justin Bradford, the mzungu completely missed the essence of the dance but still had a good time. Numerous celebs have been recorded pulling the odi, including Jeff Koinange and Jalang’o, Dr Ofweneke and Prof Hamo.