For those reading this later: please note the original date of this post!
Dance history inevitably skews toward the dances of the upper classes, since only their dancing masters had the leisure, literacy, and financial incentive to record what they were teaching. Dances of the lower classes are often lost to us. But in the age of video, we are fortunate that anthropological expeditions have been able to record the native dances of specific cultures, preserving them in their pristine form before they are corrupted by contact with outside cultural influences.
I have recently had the privilege of viewing two videos made in the late 1970s in which male villagers wearing costumes symbolic of their culture's masculine archetypes sing to younger villagers and dance in a ritual mating display responded to even by those entirely unaware of its cultural context. The first recording was made on location with the dancers in their native area. For the second, the dancers were transported to a Los Angeles television studio with a live audience for a performance broadcast on television on January 6, 1979.
We are quite lucky to have a dated record of that performance, since it was there, in an act of aggressive cultural appropriation, that the young members of the audience, egged on by the show's host, displayed their own simplified version of the dance. Unaware of its social significance or the symbolism of the costumes, their superficial interpretation (really only a set of arm movements) focused only on the alphabetic recitative that forms a part of the chorus of the ritual song. In a moment of stupendous arrogance, the show's host even suggests to the startled dancers that they incorporate this new version into their own performance.
This cultural faux pas would be only a minor footnote in dance history were it not for the national reach of the broadcast and the catchy beat of the song, which caused the simplified version to became a nationwide craze which has survived in various forms to this very day on the social dance floor as well as in non-dance venues. It is vanishingly rare to have both an unadulterated version of a village dance as well as a recording of the moment in which it was whitewashed into a popular dance fad.
More than three decades after these videos were made, after much careful study, I am pleased to be able to finally present a reconstruction of the original chorus of this ritual village dance.