I am so grateful for the teachers who have come before me.
Without them, I would have never found this medicine of twerking into transcendence.
Twerking most likely originated in West Africa. It very closely resembles the Mapouka dance from Côte d’Ivoire. “Known colloquially as “la dance du fessier,” or “dance of the behind,” mapouka is said to exist in two forms: A tamer, more traditional dance performed ceremonially, and the newer, more scandalous version popular with young Ivorians. The more modern version—and the one most closely related to twerking—is considered obscene and suggestive by some, and unfortunately, its traditional roots haven’t immunized it against controversy. In fact, the public performance of modern mapouka by groups such as Les Tueuses (The Killers), was outlawed in the 1980s! Wild! The Ivorian government cited lewdness as the reason for the ban. After that government was toppled by a military coup around 2000, mapouka performances were rendered legal once again. However, despite (or possibly due to) its prohibition, the infectious dance style had already spread throughout coastal West Africa and even taken up roots in the U.S.”
One of the first recorded instances of the use of the term “twerking” occurred in DJ Jubilee’s “Do the Jubilee All” from 1993. “In the early '90s, New Orleans was home to “bounce” music, a form of hip hop that relied heavily on call-and-response chanting. A popular artist at the time, DJ Jubilee, recorded a song called “Do the Jubilee All.” When the accompanying video featured young people furiously shaking their fessiers alongside the lyrics “twerk baby, twerk baby, twerk, twerk, twerk,” the word twerk—a combination of the words twist and jerk—arrived with the new dance craze of the same name.”
Researchers found the word was first used in 1820, spelt twirk, to refer to a twisting or jerking movement or twitch. The verb is believed to have emerged later in 1848 and the twerk spelling was used by 1901, the dictionary says.
Twerking has long been a part of black culture, and it is important that we give credit where credit is due. I am, again, so grateful to be able to receive and share in the magic that is twerk.
Check out our last blog post about how Twerking is a form of Trauma Release. This is why in a Twerk Rising class we focus less on the technical form of the twerk and more on the therapeutic benefits.