“Azonto” is a Ghanaian dance which involves movement of most of the joints in the body in a rhythmic fashion taking very few steps. Just like most African dances, knee bending and hip movement are rudiments to dancing it.
Movement in the dance includes washing, driving, boxing, making-up et cetera.
The dance evolved from the combination of a lot of local dance moves that originated from the southern-most part of Ghana during the early 2000’s. The dance has evolved with the fast pace dance culture of modern West Africa.
A closer observation of the various performers also reveals break dance moves being incorporated into it and the skinny jeans/tight shirts movement being adapted.
It is also true that before the dance became famous, youth in senior high schools of Ghana, had a similar but different way of doing the dance.
A modification of that is what we see today. It involved a similar movement of the feet, hands, and hips and at the end of every move a gunshot was mimicked with the hand and if possible the mouth. The exact origin of the dance is from Greater Accra in areas like BUKOM, CHORKOR, JAMES TOWN, and most of the coastal areas in Ghana. The dance is believed to have been taken to other parts of the capital by visitors from other part of the capital like Osu, Labadi and Dansoman who visited a popular street bar called Club House where most of the people of Bukom visit on weekends to dance to loud music.
However, its popularity, both on local and intentional platforms has been propagated by a new wave of entertainment talents emerging in Greater Accra City of Ghana.
Azonto became more popular when young Ghanaian musicians including; Castro, R2bees, Stay Jay, Sarkodie, Eduwoji, Edem, Verse Rico (Make Alert), Manny FBS, Jayson. O, EL, VIP, 4X4, Don Ratty, Zigi, Nii Abby Ga Mantse, Sir Petro, Gasmilla, Fiifi Sackey-Addo, Killmatic, Boothcamp Boys, BUK BAK, BRA KEVIN, J-TOWN, YAW SIKI, DOUBLE and a list of others made songs based on the rhythm of the dance.
Azonto, when taught effectively can be learned within five minutes, according to experienced Azonto teachers. The dance was first called ‘Apaa’ which means work by the people of Bukom and its environs, this was to represent the movement like washing, driving, boxing etc that was associated with the dance.
However, the term ‘Azonto’ which was popularly used among senior high school students to refer to a life later became accepted by the larger population as the name for the dance.
The dance now known as Azonto was later observed in an evolved from among street communities in Tarkwa, Abossey Okai, certain suburbs of Accra (namely Korle-Gonno, La and Chorkor), in pubs, night clubs, dance battles with friends and passers-by.
Perhaps because of its apparent use of strength and vigor, and preference of the then popular and more sophisticated “crip walk” and “break dance” known in Ghana as ‘cracking’ in Senior High Schools, the dance was seen as being less refined than alternate styles.
The popular award winning choreographer vanity chaser invented the newest version of Azonto dance called “the Azonto Nkoso”. This version of Azonto is popular amongst the Nima people, which are highly populated by the Muslim community. The Azonto Nkoso is different from the Azonto in that it uses a push and pull movement.
The dance was made very popular by Ghanaian football star Asamoah Gyan in his goal celebrations for club and country.
The Azonto has been further commercialized with its inclusion in music lyrics and music videos clips. Examples of such music include African Girls by Castro, U Go Kill Me by Sarkodie, Yenko Nkoaa by Eduwoji, Keche’s Sorkode, and Don Ratty etc. Azonto Fuse ODG which featured Tiffany, and more recently Obuu Mo by EL, which specifically mentions the Azonto style of dance and features Azonto in the video clip.
Source: The Ghanaian Times Saturday, December 24, 2011 Page 16