Two Female Orishas in Afro-Cuban Traditions.
While listening to salsa music, especially Cuban salsa, it can be
noticed the certain African words such as ”Obatala”, ”Yemaya”, and ”Babalu
Aye”, which are the names of Orishas, repeated, throughout different songs.
Orishas are gods and spirits of the Yoruba religion. In salsa dancing, Orishas’ moves, which is also called
Afro-Cuban or Afro, are used very frequently. Cuban Yoruba dance traditions
emphasize the collective memories, values and embodied wisdom of the Yoruba
people. The choreographies of Orisha are determined according to their
characteristics. The most popular Orisha’s female characters are Yemaya and
The first female Orisha which is called Yemaya is Mother Orisha, who is
also known as ”Divine Mother, Goddess of Water.” She gave birth to all the
Orishas in Yoruba religion, and raised them. Yemaya, who is the maternal force
of life and creation, rules over the oceans, seas, ports and owns all secrets
of the sea bottoms. Because of these features, she is respected highly;
therefore, whoever does not show respect will be punished. Her colour is blue
and white, which represents the waves of the seas hitting the rocks. Yemaya’s
dance encourages community connections. Her main dance steps include Yakota,
Omoladde, Chikini and Chachalokuafun.
In addition to Yemaya, the other popular female Orisha is Ochun who is
the defender of women and maternity. She is also the younger sister of
Yemaya. She represents Orisha of love, fertility,
wealth, sensuality, and art. The reason why she symbolizes wealth of
Afro-cubans is her luxurious yellow dress and her six golden bracelets. Ochun
is also the owner of rivers, and the element of gold. Ochun’s dance symbolizes
the calmness in the rivers and women, slenderness, elegance, attractiveness,
pride and coquetry of women. Her main dance steps include Rezo, Iddewere, Chachalokuafun,
and Eni Obomo Solo.
In conclusion, Yemaya and Ochun are the female characters of Orishas.
Their moves adorn Salsa dancing. Many Afro-Cuban dancers incorporate these
traditional dance movements which are inspired by Orishas. Remember that Salsa
consists of many dance forms and traditions. Learning more dance traditions
enrich the dance.
Buse DEM?RAY- 2221349