Top 12 Modern African Dance Styles

Here is a list of the top 10 modern African Dance Styles that have gone viral all over Africa and the world.

All over Africa, amazing music is created which is hugely influenced by our different cultures and styles. It gets even more interesting when these songs inspire dance styles and trends all over the continent and further push the popularity of the songs to massive heights.

Sometimes, the dance styles outlive the songs which inspired them and basically stick around for sometime. From South Africa, to Ghana, to Nigeria, Tanzania, and even Kenya and more, several dance styles have taken Africa by storm forming a trend on social media. The most recent being the Leg Work and the Amapiano Dance. These styles have also gone beyond Africa and have been used by top stars including Beyoncé Knowles (in her video for “Already” featuring Shatta Wale), and more.

Now, here’s a list of the modern African dance styles you should know about.


Obviously one of the most popular dance styles to trend in Africa. Shoki originated in Nigeria in 2014. It was popularised by rapper and singer, Lil Kesh whose song (of the same title) became a massive hit. It mostly involves the using of the hands in several positions while dancing rhythmically to the beat of a song. The hands are the focus of the dance.


The Azonto dance style originated in Ghana and was popularised by international artiste, Fuse ODG who released a song describing its steps. The dance involves knee bending and hip movements. Several routine moves like boxing, ironing and even driving movements are added to make it more fun.

Leg Work

We doubt that anyone is over the leg work craze already. The dance style originated in Nigeria and was popularised by Street hop artistes like Naira Marley and more. It basically involves routine leg moments which can either be in line with or faster than the beat.

Shaku Shaku

Shaku Shaku is a street dance style which originated in Nigeria. Here, the hands and legs move in a synchronised form (crossing and dribbling) aligning with the beat of the song. It is one of the simplest yet complex dance styles.

Gwara Gwara

The Gwara Gwara dance reigned mightily in 2018 and originated in South Africa. It was started but South African Disc Jockey, DJ Bongz and went international after being performed Live at the Grammys. It has been danced top artistes including Rihanna and more.

Amapiano Dance

The Amapiano dance style originated in South Africa. It went viral in 2019 and still dominated in 2020 during the pandemic. It features leg and body movements that follow the beat of the song. It is even more fun when the dancer adds their own personal moves to it.


The Zanku dance stay is an acronym for “Zlatan Abeg No Kill Us”. It was started by Nigerian Street Hop star, Zlatan Ibile and went viral following the release of his song “Killin Dem” featuring Grammy winner, Burna Boy. The dance involves fast paced movement of the legs, hands, chest, and several other parts of the body. It involves jumping and stepping.


Inspired by the heavyweight singer Davido’s hit song, the dance was very popular between 2013 and 2015, the dance has however been overshadowed by new ones as a result of ever growing African music scene which is highly influenced by the dance culture, every big song tend to come with a new dance but only few are strong enough to stand the test of time. Even though it is not as popular as it was when introduced, Skelewu is one of the few dances that still exist. The Dance is done by putting one hand on the waist and the other can be used to freely to make more moves while you twist your waist and push your chest forward and backward.


Kukere is a traditional dance of the Akwa Ibom, but the dance which was only popular in that region became very popular when associated with Iyanya’s hit song titled Kukere. Although the dance is originally called Etighi, most people now know it as Kukere, the dance was the highlight of the music video for the talented singer’s hit song. Like every other African dance, Kukere focuses on the movement of the waist but in a very different way, instead of twisting or wiggling, Etighi popularly known as Kukere is done by continuous quick movement of the waist but one side at a time and the leg on the side of the waist that is being moved is raised just at the same time the waist is moved.


This is a style of popular dance music and style which originated in Ivory Coast. It first began in night clubs in Abidjan and later spread to France. It was quite popular in the early 2000s. The Coupé-décalé dance style was made popular by artistes and DJs in Francophone countries, the Carribeans and Lusophone Africa. Later on, it spread across the African continent and became a massive dance trend.


The Kizomba dance is a style that originated in Angola as far back as in 1984. Kizomba simply means “Party” in Kimbundu. It is a Bantu language spoken by Ambundu in Angola. It is also an umbrella word which is used to include several other dance styles which originated from under it. This includes the Urban Kiz and the Kizomba Fusion. The dance is executed smoothly, slowly and even sensualy. It also involves simultaneous Hip rotations by the dance partners. It has been promoted by artistes, Bonga, Heavy C and more.


This is obviously the most erotic dance style on the list. Many have liked it to Twerking which was popularised by American artiste, Miley Cyrus. It was popularised with the release of the music video for the song “Chura” by Tanzanian singer, Snura Mushi. It involves the bouncing of the buttocks, leg movement and grinding. The dance was declared crude and vulgar for people under 18 by the Tanzanian government.

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