The institution of slavery in the United States began on the West Coast of Africa. Africans were brought from the 3,000 mile coastline between North Senegal and South Angola.
The dances mimicked the every day tasks of slavery.
Woulousodong is a type of dance where this element was found. Woulousodong of the Wolorf people in Senegal is one of this dance's interpretations, when learned in America, is that the movements represented those of the slaves while they walked up the gang plank.
The African explanation tells us the movements signify adolescents breaking away from their parents' household and taking on new responsibilities.
African Dance in the Diaspora
During slavery, the dances revolved around the labors of the day. The dances were called shuckin’ corn, pitchin’ hay and even milkin’ the cow and were given those exact titles.
These dances were flat-footed, bent or crouched postures and were done as a group activity.
After Emancipation and the mass migration to the North, African American secular dance began to change from flat-footed and bent over, to more upright positions and individual dancing which mimicked the dances in the North.
Dance in Hiphop Culture
Both styles are evident in Hiphop dances. The Harlem Shake, the Kid and Play, the Running Man and some elements of Break Dancing can be upright, involve partners or groups and have an extensive use of the arms and back.