It is the latest dance craze that depicts activities like boxing, driving, ironing, talking on the mobile phone and swimming, but it is not only contemporary secular artistes like Sarkodie, Guru, Tiffany, Keche and Gasmilla who are gleefully taking Azonto to their fans.
Some gospel musicians have also warmly embraced the dance and do it well at their performances in churches and on other platforms across the country. They call what they do Christian Azonto or simply, ‘Chrizonto’ and singer Piesie Esther is a staunch advocate for it.
She and some of her colleagues, such as Gifty Osei, Jack Alolomi and Superintendent Kofi Sarpong, even put up a programme called, ‘Chrizonto Praize’ at the Osu Presbyterian Church in Accra earlier this year. They got the congregation to happily dance along with them in praise of God.
“Some people say Christians should not dance Azonto, but I don’t agree with them because the dance is not profane. It doesn’t, for instance, entail any indecent wriggling of waists or doing something to attract attention in a negative way ”, is how Piesie defends her stance on ‘Chrizonto’.
“ A dance which is mainly about lifting up and bringing down your arms in a certain rhythmic manner cannot be termed bad. It brings some fun to praise sessions and both young and old respond to it.”
Piesie Esther hails from Atonsu in the Ashanti Region. Raised in a family of singers, who took church activities seriously, Piese Esther followed the same trend until she was discovered by gospel artiste, Georgia Adjei in Kumasi.
She currently has three albums to her credit: Apae Ama Me (2002), Mente Asie (2008) and Ziba Beko (2011), on which she entreats people to make positive assertions about themselves at all times.
Married with a son, Kerin Prince Kofi Asiedu, Piese Esther got nominations in the Gospel Artiste of the Year and Gospel Song of the Year categories at the 2009 Ghana Music Awards.
According to her, nothing pleases her more than being approached by fans to tell of how her songs had helped them achieve breakthroughs in various aspects of their lives.
The Ziba she refers to in the third album, is a Bibilcal character that symbolises failure and difficulty ; and Piesie Esther declares that can be overcome with faith and steadfast prayer.
“God has already blessed us with lots of good things. All I’m saying through my music is that it is up to us to develop the right mindset and spirit to receive all the grace God is giving to us on a silver platter,” says Piesie Esther.
Though it appears to be a derivative of the Kpanlogo dance from the Greater Accra Region, Azonto easily lends itself to movements from Adowa, Kete, Agbadza and other local dances.
It is simply regarded by many as a Ghanaian dance that is increasingly gaining popularity here and abroad.
“All good things come from the Lord and those good things should belong to the children of God, which they must utilise to spread the gospel. Azonto is a unique, beautiful thing and I don’t understand it when people say it is a worldly dance.”
A member of the Church of Pentecost, who worships at the Santa-Maria Central branch in Accra, Piesie Esther says her church, which many in Christiandom sometimes regard as conservative, has no problems about people dancing Azonto during praise sessions.
“Apart from my church, I go to places and I take the older women through the rudiments of Azonto and they enjoy themselves. It is all about feeling good yourself when you set out to praise God,” says Piesie Esther who owns and runs a boutique at Bubuashie in Accra.
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