Twerkumentary gets to the bottom of twerking's origins

Diana Manfredi's new documentary, Twerkumentary, takes a look at the history of twerking from its African origins to celebrities like Miley Cyrus who popularized it.
Diana Manfredi's new documentary, Twerkumentary, takes a look at the origins of the popular dance phenomena of twerking. (Courtesy of Diana Manfredi )

Miley Cyrus's 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance was the twerk seen around the world. 

That, though, led some to think that the pop star was the creator of this dance move, a phenomena that actually stems back to African styles of dancing such as the mapouka from the Ivory Coast. Curious and wanting to give credit to twerking's originators, filmmaker Diana Manfredi set out to find the real stories behind twerking in her documentary, Twerkumentary

In an interview with Funkadelic's George Clinton, one of the first people to use the phrase "twerk," Manfredi reveals: "He said that it was a funky way to say 'work it,' to look back at your behind and work it as in dancing — he just added the 't' because it was more funk." 

From Clinton's use of the word to the actual origins of the dancing itself, Manfredi talks to some of dance and music's most influential artists in her film. In the end, Manfredi concludes that twerking is "going to last," and while some many see it as demeaning or objectifying for women, she argues that it's empowering. She adds, "It's something that women do to feel good about themselves." 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?