The traditional Ballet of Rwanda is one of Africas longest established and least exposed musical traditions. The use of the word Ballet is a product of Belgian colonial rule. In fact, the art form was refined over centuries in the courts of the Rwandan Mwami (kings).
There are three main components to Rwandan Ballet, and a standard performance by a group will contain all three. These are the songs/dances that are the essence of the art form (and are referred to here as 'the Ballet'), Intore (dance of heroes) and Ingoma ('drums').
The 'Dance of Heroes' is performed by men wearing grass wigs and carrying spears. The background is a dance performed by returning warriors, celebrating victory in battle. The dancers move from side to side combining grace and complex choreography with a raw aggression. At certain stages the dancers stop, with arms outstretched and make blood-curdling battle crys.
These calls are individual to each dancer and represent warriors declaiming the details of how many he had slain in battle. Battles traditionally involved Hutu, Tutsi and Twa fighting alongside each-other against a common enemy. The performance of Intore therefore has always consisted of warriors of all groups dancing together.