The Maasai Perform a Jumping Dance toWoo a Bride The Maasai people inhabit Kenya and Tanzania, two of the most visited places in Africa, and their adamu , or jumping dance, has become nearly as popular a tourist attraction as the savanna’s elephants and lions. It’s often mentioned as a decep-
tive dance: It looks easy to jump up in the air in time with the beat, but visitors find they’re incapable of jumping as high as the tribe members themselves. Adamu is a warrior dance performed by men, supported by women. It is unique in several ways, most notably by the fact that the Maasai do not use musical in- struments of any kind, instead using their voices to make music and keep time. It begins with the warriors of the tribe (all adult men—the Maasai have a famously intense rite of passage for their boys, requiring them to spend 10 years away from the main village) forming a circle as women sing to provide the musical rhythm. Two men step into the circle, and the dance begins. They jump higher and higher each time while chanting in time with the circle, growing in intensity while they leap into the air. They wear a simple garment called a shuka , an animal skin or bolt of cotton, usually dyed red to blend in with the color of the earth. Like many other African tribal dances, the adamu is primarily a show of physical strength. It is a mating dance that takes place during the ceremony of Eunoto, a time when young men become warriors and leaders in their tribe, having passed their tests of strength and determi- nation. By jumping as high as they can, these new warrior graduates show off
Although the dance may look simple, visitors find it difficult to keep up with the Maasai men during the traditional jumping dance.
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