Talawa Technique



Talawa Technique is a fully codified and examinable technique for Africanistic kinaesthetic movement.


The Talawa Technique seamlessly merges ancestral movements, culturally contextualised vocabulary and contemporary movement sensibilities. It bridges the gap between “urban freestyling”, traditional and contemporary dance.  Thus offering a fused approach to stylised movement for stage and art production.

Talawa Technique uniquely combines rhythmic structures, a specialised approach to grounding, and traditional African Aesthetic movement qualities, such as: trembling, shaking, undulating and pulsating.

The Talawa Technique makes a clear distinction between aesthetic and technical choices. This allows the dancer to develop full ownership of their bodies natural bends and curves. The approach connects them to history and culture in an empowering way. Dancers are guided to skilfully master multiple isolations and polyrhythmic articulations, alongside the work of breaking down mental and cultural barriers, in order to free movement. The technique uses knowledge and culture as a liberating tool to create confident performers, who embrace their own identities, as well as the multiple identities of africanistic movement.

The Snake the Bird and The Spider

Central to the technique is the Spider, the Bird, and the Snake. These are not separate elements but together form a mythical “animal”, binding the mind/body/spirit together in movement.

THE SPIDER (32 arm positions)

Anansi is a well-known character all through the African Diaspora and also on the continent.
He is a clever trickster and storyteller. He is credited with being the one who brought stories and storytelling to the humans from the Sky God.
Like our hands can draw inn, open dimensions, create illusion and animate our storytelling, the vocal gestures of the Talawa Technique is attributed to the principle of the spider, the storyteller.

THE BIRD (14 foot/base positions)
A creature that is a friend to the AIR, the LAND and the WATER. Believed to fertilize the land it also draws out the energy from the sun by pecking at the ground. Birds are also known to migrate, have an impeccable sense of direction and balance.

The foot positions are therefore linked to the principle of the bird. Filling every space it goes with possibility, drawing from the ground and giving back at the same time. The bird moves adapt and make its presence known.

THE SNAKE (7 levels of isolation in the torso)

Believed to be incarnations of particularly wise people. This element represents embodied knowledge. Instinct, intuition. The snake represents movement, and movement represents life. What does not move, does not vibrate, does not exist. The snake is cold-blooded and must be energized (heated up). We do this by moving it.

Most dance is to celebrate, and or reflect life. Therefore we move the spine.


TECHNICAL: Various movement techniques and practices, activates and engages the students in the essential work of alignment and conditioning. The techniques are designed to develop endurance, suppleness, awareness, economy, and precision in moving. These exercises are also intended to reduce injuries; including excessive spinal- tension, tension, awkward gestures, a casual carriage, and inexpressive mobility. Studies in African anatomy (different view of the body than in the Western world, this is reflected in dance, buttocks is a five directional muscle), further the student's self-awareness and provide practical knowledge for safe and effective use of the body.

EXPLORATION: This involves studies in space, time, energy, attitude, intention, spirit, gesture, and emotion, in which students relate, develop and explore their inner nature and relationship to the world and other people in terms of and through movement. Through improvisations and guided experimentation in a variety of movement practices, students will explore the relationship of mind, spirit, and body. How these things are expressed through an African, Black, and Caribbean body language, expression, and aesthetics, both historically and contemporary.

APPLICATION: In TT-Tech application quickly follows technical exercises. Often technical exercises are directly applied to choreography and movement. TT-Tech believes that an informed student that understands the uses of technique stays more motivated, and is quicker to internalize technique. It also helps separate what is aesthetics and what is technique.


Dance without technique is often limited, and lacking aesthetics, but technique without dance is not dance at all.
Talawa 200


Talawa-technique seeks to unlock the body, and give dancers the control needed to master the undulations, shakes, curves, shapes, and qualities of the Africanistic movement. The technique is considered one of the most comprehensive techniques for mastering African body movement styles, and separates the pure mechanics of movement from aesthetic nuances.

  • Talawa-Technique acknowledges that teaching abilities and dancing abilities are not necessarily linked. Africanist dance styles are often very physical. Teaching is often linked to the instructor's ability to physically show the movement. The codification, language and technical buildup of the Talawa-Technique, makes it possible to teach without having the physical capacity to demonstrate.
  • The Griot classification is linked, and students of this must acquire the same level of dance as instruction.


*Module 4-7 in both dance and Instructing was given 15 study points at the University of Trondheim (NTNU), in 2011-12.



TALAWA- INITIATE Introduction to Africanistic and Caribbean movement and recreational dance.


TALAWA- AKIMBO LEVEL Techniques, exercises and modules for professional and trained dancers within western styles, or dancers with basic within African and Caribbean Dance


TALAWA- YANVALOU LEVEL Professional Training for Caribbean and African trained dancers.


TALAWA- GRIOT Professional master technical dance training utilizing levels 1-32





TALAWA- INITIATE Recreational dance for teens, adolescent, and elders.


TALAWA- AKIMBO Techniques, exercises and modules for professional and trained dancers within western styles, or dancers with basics within African and Caribbean Dance


TALAWA- YANVALOU Professional Training for the Caribbean and African trained dancers.


TALAWA- MASTER INSTRUCTOR Instructor certified to teach the Talawa-technique module 1-25.


TALAWA-GRIOT Grand master can certify master instructors and wholly teach every module of the technique and theory.


*Module 4-7 in both dance and Instructing was given 15 study points at the University of Trondheim (NTNU), in 2011-12.