Nigeria’s cultural heritage can be traced to her ancient lifestyle and historic activities such as dance, music, language, festivals, proverbs, and dressing, among others. These activities vary among different tribes or ethnicities and have remained relevant to date. Despite several controversies on the need to create mechanisms to sustain the culture of the ethnic groups in Nigeria, people still appreciate the cultural practices inherited from their forefathers, which help to promote the beauty of West Africa.
One such cultural practice is the “Atilogun dance,” prevalent in the Igbo culture. The Igbo ethnic group is one of Nigeria’s three main ethnic groups. According to research, they have a population of about 32 million people and live in the country’s eastern part. The Igbos, also known as the Ndi’ Igbos, are united by their shared history, culture, and traditions, which include clothing, beliefs, religion, dancing, and other activities.
Dancing takes up the greater part of the Igbo culture’s amusement and religious components. The Igbos think that dancing has many more purposes in society than just entertainment, such as spiritual purification of the land, fitness training for teenagers, historical preservation, and so on. Atilogwu is the most popular, extensively performed, and oldest of all the traditional dances in the Igbo nation. At events such as coronations, festivals, and marriages, the Atilogwu dance is performed.
The origin of the name ‘Atilogwu’ can be traced back to the beginning of the dance. Spectators were astounded by the bright Atilogwu dancers’ abilities, prompting them to wonder aloud, “Is this magic?” As a result, the dance was given the name Atilogwu, which means “Is this magic?” It’s worth noting that the Atilogwu dance evolved from a fusion of five classic Igbo dances: Anam, Ogwulogwu, Anaku, Ochanja, and Adunjanja. Although the exact date when the Atilogwu dance first appeared is uncertain, the dance has evolved over time. To make it more active and intriguing, new steps and stunts have been added, and it has gained national and international recognition.
Atilogwu is a fantastic dance by young individuals, which involves a lot of acrobatics and smart body movements. Furthermore, because of the energy-sapping maneuvers, stunts, and extensive training, only agile youths can perform the Atilogwu dance.
Different traditional musical instruments, such as drums, a flute-like instrument known as opi, a metal gong called ogene, and Ichaka, a beaded gourd, are used to accompany the Atilogwu dance. The dancers’ steps correspond to the drums’ and opi’s rhythms, which also influence the dancers’ dancing steps or motions.
According to research, Atilogwu is still one of Nigeria’s oldest and most popular traditional dances.