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Wolayta is an Ethiopian dance that is performed in small groups during social events. It is an up-beat dance that is usually performed in co-ed groups and features fast-tempo footwork and stepping patterns. Dancers use all parts of the body and often shake their heads, shoulders, hips, arms and feet in a side-to-side and front-to-back motion. Although the dances are performed in group, dancers do not generally make physical contact but rather perform movements in unison.

Is this activity known by any other names?

Wolaita; Welayta

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

This dance is thought to have originated from the Southern region of Ethiopia. Its origins in Canada and the GTA are unclear, but it was likely introduced by Ethiopian immigrants.

Who takes part?

Males and females of diverse ages, typically of Ethiopian heritage.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

Wolayta is performed throughout the year in dance classes and at cultural events, including the Habari Africa festival.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?


Cultural Significance


Is there anything else we should know?



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