Experience the Traditional Ballet of Rwanda

Rwanda is magical and a destination filled with beauty beyond anyone’s imagination and comprehension. This small country is found in the heart of Africa and is undoubtedly a land of wonders with its wildlife, bird species and now rich cultural diversity. The rich cultural diversity in this country will leave you breathless and loving the country more. The traditional ballet is one of the most beautiful encounters in Rwanda, and actually one of the longest established yet least explored musical traditions in Africa. The use of the term “Ballet” originated from the Belgium Colonial Rule. As a matter of fact, the extraordinary Art from was not wanted over years in the Royal Courts of the Kings of Rwanda (locally known as Mwami).

There are three key elements (components) of the Traditional Ballet of Rwanda and the normal performance by the dance groups has to contain all the three elements. The components include music or songs that are the basic part of the Art form, and are usually referred as the Ballet, the Ingoma (drums) and the Intore (the dance of heroes). The Intore (dance of heroes) is performed by men who wear grass wigs around their heads and carry spears. The background of this Intore is a dance performed by returning triumphant warriors, who celebrate the victory in the battle. The energetic dancers move from side to side joining grace and a system of choreography with a raw aggression. At particular stages, the dancers of the group have to stop with arms stretched and make blood-curdling battle shouts (calls).

These shouts are distinctive and exceptional to each dancer and represents warriors uttering the details of how they had killed in the battle. Traditionally, battles were fought by the Hutu, twa and the Tutsi (as one) fighting alongside each other against a common enemy. Therefore, the invigorating Intore dance has often consisted of warriors of all groups dancing together.  When you visit Rwanda and don’t explore the interesting Intore dances, then you are about to miss what everyone describes as breathtaking.

The Intore dance later took shape within the Royal Courts of the Kings (Mwami) of Rwanda and is generally a storytelling dance in which stories of war, love and challenging times are put together and shared in form of dances. This dance is more like a dramatic work than a Traditional Ballet as the Belgium used to call it because it involves a lot of skills and detail. Interestingly, it cannot be termed as only a battle dance mainly because it is performed in extraordinary and different occasions, although the dance was mainly performed after being victorious from a battle.

Intore is a Kinyarwanda word that means “the chosen ones” hence it was a dance for the chosen ones (only victorious warriors). The Intore dancers have gained popularity across the World and have become an important part of the Rwandan Culture and tradition.  These dancers participated in the World Expo in 1958 that was held in Brussels hence became very popular and sought-after by tourists on a Safari in Rwanda. Intore dancing also known as “Warrior dancing” is therefore one of the ancient and traditional form of dancing in Africa.

Interestingly, the Intore people were once known as part of the Traditional Rwanda army although they were not given military training but taught the skills of dancing and high jumping. It is for this reason that they were known for their exceptional ways of jumping up to 240 meters above the ground. Isn’t it remarkable?  Make sure you ask for this dance when you visit Rwanda for a safari.

Besides the wildlife activities such as gorilla trekking and Chimpanzee tracking that can be enjoyed in Rwanda, tourists who visit this country should not miss the invigorating Intore dance where men and women dance like they don’t carry any weight.

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