HIGNGNI OR HAGNGNI.- Part 3 RKPHA 1999-2000
HAGNGNI is one of those borrowed dances, by the Kunama people, very likely, from their neighbouring Sudanese Nubians or Takururi folk groups.
Because of its foreign origin, this dance is not tied to a particular event like, for instance "ULEDA" which is (and should) be performed only on the occasions of the death, burial and memorial of elderly Kunama persons.
HAGNGNI is therefore, performed mostly by the young people at any and in their leasure times.
This dance does not require any sound of drums;
it is accompanied only by a rhythmical clapping of hands by the female dancers who also function as lead singers.
"Hagngni" begins with the leading singer introducing the refrain of the song to which the partecipants respond in chorus.
As it is a dance performed in pairs, the female dancer is the one who first steps into the dance floor thus challenging any of the present young male dancers.
The rhythm of "HAGNGNI" could be described as that of an accelerated "REGGAE".
She opens the dance by beating first her right or left foot, crosses her leg over the other, beats the floor again with the same foot, lifts the other leg and repeats the circle.
The male dancer follows her partner by co-ordinating his feet-beatings with those of the female dancer so that they both beat their feet and cross their legs over concomitantly.
Their feet-steppings have to match up with the hand-clappings of the female dancers.
This dance, very often, takes the form of a really demanding challenge as it requires a lot of skill, energy and fantasy particularly from the male dancer.
In order to break the monotony, the male dancer improvises not only by varying his feet-beating technics but also by changing the movements of his body as well as mimicking or acting out a few amusing scenes.
The two dancers carry out all these combinations always remaining within the rhythm of HAGNGNI.
The ability to perfectly combine all these factors is what makes this dance attractive and entertaining.
To excite the two dancers, the female leading singer includes in her verses their names, praises their dancing qualities and bravados. She may also redicule the movements of the male dancer should these appear awkward to her.
After a while, another female dancer replaces her colleague followed by a second male who likewise takes over from his mate. The change continues so long Hagngni is performed.
No matter how often, the subsequent changes of the dancers take place without any interruption of the rhythm of Hagngni.
Similarly, some male dancers may bring a lot of feet-beating variations but they always retain the same rhythmical movement of that dance.