Expert answer:New Dance (discussion)

  

Solved by verified expert:1. Create a new dance as the slaves did (other than the ones sighted in class), give it a name, and describe the movements you would use.2. What was the importance of the praise houses to the African enslaved people?
dan166_lecture05_slavery_on_the_plantation_part_1.txt

dan166_lecture06_slavery_on_the_plantation_part_2.txt

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[ Music ]
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>> Hello. You’re back. We are back. Today, we’re going to talk about slavery on the
plantation and how dance was used. But I wanted to recap a little bit what we
talked about last time. I had done some research, I was just doing some more
reading before today’s lecture, and found out some information that I want to share
with you. We had talked about the three sections of the process of slavery. We
talked about the capture. We said that dance was used to lure the Africans onto the
— onto the ships and then the ships were — the anchors were pulled up and the
ships were launched out into sea. And by the time the Africans found out about it
with their frenzy of dancing, they were already out to sea and, of course, there
were other ways that the crew acquired slaves. But that was one way dance was
involved. Another part was when they were on the ships, that middle passage, that
voyage from Africa to the New World wherever they were going. And we had said that
the slaves were forced to dance on deck and this was called dancing the slaves. And
they were doing that so the slaves would get exercise so that they would have a
halfway healthy group of slaves, which was very rare because, remember, I told you
almost half of the cargo sometimes was lost of humans. But, at any rate, we had
talked about the dance being on the deck. Now, in the last section, which was the
selling section, I did not know that dance was used in that particular section as
well, and so, therefore, I didn’t tell you that. But since then I have done some
reading and found out that in that particular section of the selling being on the
auction block or what they would call the banjo table, that the slaves were
required many times to dance. I have a little quote that I’m going to read to you
that came from an interview from an ex slave. And I’m sure the — the wording has
been changed. A lot of times with ex slaves, the English is kind of broken and I
think that this has been sort of edited so that it’s not broken English. But I
wanted to read you a little bit about this and, like I said, this was from an
interview that was done by a social science institute. OK. Now, this is by an ex
slave. Says, “We stayed in there — meaning the slave pin or the trading yard -for three or four weeks.” This was an ex slave speaking. “They would fix us all up
and carry us in a great big old room and circle us all evening and morning. They
would have us up in the show room to show us to the people. They would hit us in
the breast to see if we were strong and sound. Monkeys would play with us and see
if any bookies — or lice is what they’re talking about — was in our heads. They
made us dance and made us take exercise all the time we were there.” So, this lets
you know — this is sort of a confirmation of the information that I’ve given you.
And I have found many quotes, but this one I thought really fit what we were
talking about for today. Now, when the slaves came to the Americas, there’s a
record of them coming onto the plantation in 1619. That’s the documentation. It
could have been before, but the documentation is 1619. And a lot of the slaves were
considered to be indentured servants and if they confessed or converted into
Christianity, they were going to be freed. They were let free. Well, this went on
for just a tad and then the plantations realized — the plantation owners realized
that this was not a very good thing. And so basically that whole concept was
basically changed. Now, there was, as I said before, resistance to slavery. The
slaves just didn’t go complacently. They resisted this — this whole siege. And
while they were on the plantation, they did as well. Now, we talked about drums. We
talked about how important the drum was to the dance. We also said that the drum
was a symbolic of the heartbeat. That’s how integral part of it it was for the
African dancers. And, also, they considered the drum to be a better communicator
than the voice because a drum has different tones to it. They could communicate
with each other with the drums. So, what was happening there on the plantations,
there was a communication that was happening from one plantation to the other as
they were playing the drums. And, at first, the plantation owners didn’t know what
was going on. They just thought the drums were being used to dance — the African
slaves could dance. But then they found out after a conspiracy that was called the
Cato Conspiracy or it was called the Stono Insurrection. They’re different titles
for this. But, anyway, it was a relatively big rebellion. And they found out from
this rebellion that the slaves were communicating one to another with the drums.
So, in the 1700s, they decided that they would ban the drums. Now, for a people who
were very used to rhythm and used to the drums, they still had to dance because we
said before that dance was an integral part of the African lifestyle. And we
noticed some of the motivations that they had for dance, but basically everything
from weddings to funerals, births, all that was encompassed in — in and through
the dance. So, this is a people who needed to dance because of their culture. And
they needed rhythm. So, what they did was they started to devise other ways of
using rhythm. So, actually taking the drums away made them more creative. So, some
of the instruments that they used were they would use the banjo and they would use
tambourines. Tambourines were brought over — the concept of tambourines was
brought over from Africa. They would take jaw bones and they would clank them
together. They would take bones, just regular bones, and clank them together. They
would take boxes or pans — pans, utensils, anything to kind of keep the rhythm
going. They even used their bodies. They clapped. They sang. And they also used
their feet. And we’ll see later that these components stem out into other forms of
dance as we go on. The feet, for example, is what happens to help to promote the
tap dancing. So, there were different ways of using the dance and they used the
dance a lot. However, the plantation owners were really kind of shocked by the
dancing. Remember, we talked about the single unit and the multiunit. Well, the
Europeans were used to using the single unit, which was a pretty up straight back.
And so their dancing was in line with that. The Africans, of course, were using a
little bit bent over and earth bound and so there was a different aesthetic. Well,
the plantation owners would think that that was a little bit barbaric. And so there
was really sort of an exchange of movements in that a lot of slaves started to
mimic their plantation owners because they were seeing a new way of moving. And the
plantation owners were getting a kick out of looking at the slaves. So, we have
these different kinds of dancing, these two different kinds of dancing, which will
come together a little bit as time goes on.
^M00:09:56
Now, the banjo was used a lot and there’s documentation that Thomas Jefferson wrote
a quote about the bejaia he called it, which was the original name for the banjo.
Which was a precursor to your guitar. So, there are a lot of things that came out
of the fact that they could not use the sole activity of the drum beating. OK. Now,
these — there were times when the slaves were able to dance and they used dance to
celebrate at times. But a lot of times they used dance also to be able to get
through the day, to release themselves from the structure of hard work, to even use
it in terms of working, which we’ll talk about later. And the dance became a sense
of socialization and also, with the dance, we will find later on that — with the
entertaining that they would do for the masters on the plantations — if the
masters wanted them to dance, then they were required and commanded to dance. So,
as we look at this, we’re going to now talk about some of the types of dances that
were performed on the plantation. Plantation owners encouraged dance because they
felt that that would help to maintain morale. We have different types of dances.
Some of them, however, we don’t know exactly how they were executed. I was given a
grant not too long ago by the university to go and do some studying in this area
and I went to New York and went to Lincoln Center where they have a big art
section. And I couldn’t find a lot of these movements. I did find a little excerpt,
which I’ll explain to you later, but basically it’s very hard to find footage on -on this movement even though a lot of these movements continued for a while. And
it’s hard to find even documentation as far as what slaves said the movements were
enough to know how to do them. So, your first one was called, “The Buck.” Now,
there have been many different theories about that. Some felt like it had to do
with the deer, you know, a buck. Others felt like it was the way the movement was
executed. However it was, it was usually performed only by men. So, this is The
Buck. The next one is called, “The Pigeon Wing.” From research, I found that it
seemed that this pigeon wing were movements like a chicken so there were small
movements and proudly using the arms in some respect. So, this was called, “The
Pigeon Wing.” The next was, “The Buck and Wing,” which was a combination of The
Buck and The Pigeon Wing. This particular form, nobody quite knows how it is or
was, but somehow it had kind of traveled into tap in the very early stages of tap
dancing. The 4th one were dance contests. These were dances that involved
competition. Sometimes the slave owner would, one, allow his slaves to compete with
other plantation’s slaves, or, two, he would set up a time where they could compete
amongst themselves. So, it’s either with the other slave plantations dancers or it
was within the — their particular plantation. OK. Now, some of the dances that
were done, that were considered contest dances, was — one was called, “The Jig.”
And The Jig was very fast foot movements. Another was called, “the Cake Walk.” Now,
the Cake Walk actually was — mimicking the plantation owners. The plantation
owners made fun of the slaves and how they danced. Well, the slaves kind of came
back at them, but the plantation owners didn’t realize it. But, basically they
started to mimic the plantation owners because they were saying they dance so
straight up and they were so stiff. So, they created this dance that was originally
called, “the chalk line dance,” and that was because of the contests. There was a
chalk line that was drawn to show who would win the dance. And that is pretty
detailed. Sometimes it was how high they would kick their legs that they would make
chalk marks. And then another way is that they would put a circle with a chalk mark
and have the dancers dance within it without going outside. But, at any rate, this
chalk line dance was then called, “Cake Walk.” And the reason why it was called the
Cake Walk was because the winner would win a cake. And so, therefore, it was called
the Cake Walk. And the Cake Walk become very popular and it extended out through
the years as well. So, it wasn’t just in slavery, but it extended further into the
future as far as this times of slave is concerned. Now, the 3rd one was called a
water dance. And the water dance was such that they would either have a bucket of
water or some kind of container of water. Now, in Africa, a lot of the people there
will walk and they will carry things on their heads. You can see them with many,
many baskets, really full — filled very high. And the women would wear these on
their heads. Well, this again, was coming from an African tradition. And so they
would put buckets on their heads or some kind of container with water. And then
they went to dance as full out as they could in whatever frenzy or fun, freedom,
however they wanted to dance, they would do so. The one who did the most exciting
dance and could maintain water in The Bucket — in other words they didn’t lose as
much water in The Bucket — then they were winners. So, with your dance for contest
or contest dance, you have The Jig, the Cake Walk, which was originally the chalk
line walk, and then you have your water dances. OK. Now, we’re coming back to your
types of dances that were going on in the plantation. The 5th one — the 4th one
was your contest dances — the 5th one was called a ring dance. And that was simply
dancing in a circle usually moving counterclockwise because, we said before, in
Africa the movement was counterclockwise. Then you had a dance called, “The Juba,”
and the juba also had fast foot rhythms and fast foot movements and rhythms. And it
came out of Africa — an African tradition. Then you had, number seven, what they
called the Pattin’ Juba. And the Pattin’ Juba was like you used to do a long time
ago when you would go, “dun-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun, dundun-dun, dun-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun.” You all remember that. OK. Most of
you — it was done back in my day. But most of you have at least seen it. Well,
this was called the Pattin’ Juba, but, of course, it was more interact than that
and you’ll see some footage of the Pattin’ Juba. But sometimes they would just sit
down and do it, which the movement made it a dance, or they would stand up and they
would do it. So, from that stemmed what we call the Hambone. Hambone, I cannot show
you right now, but you’ve seen it where they might hit their thighs and hit their
chest and it begins to be sort of a rhythm. But it’s the rhythm of slapping your
body, which was called Hambone. All right. Now, number eight, you had cotillion -cotillions, C-O-T-I-L-L-I-O-N-S. And you had reels, R-E-E-L-S. Now, these dances
were influenced by the slaves that worked in the house.
^M00:20:02
You had slaves that worked in the house and you had slaves that worked out in the
field, or in other areas. The slaves that were in the house were the ones who could
pick up the etiquette of the — what they called gentile society. So, they
considered themselves a little bit more superior than the slaves that were in the
fields. So, what they would do is that when they did have dances, they would show
the field slaves and the field workers how to dance in a — in an acceptable,
palatable way as far as the plantation owners were concerned. Again, it was more
erect. You have heard of the Virginia Reel hopefully. You’ve seen George Washington
— you’ve seen minuets on television. Well, those kinds of dances were the kinds
that these cotillions and reels were representing. So, this influence came from the
house slaves. Also, they would have what you call, “Call and Response”. And this
was very similar to square dancing where there would be someone who would say what
the next step was. You’ve heard in square dancing, “Do-si-do your partner.
Promenade.” Those kinds of calling out was what they called call and response. The
person would call out the movement and the dancers would respond to that movement.
There’s also call and response in song where you might say one phrase and then the
other people will say the second phrase and then you’ll say the 3rd and then
they’ll say the 4th. It’s called call and response. So, you had that with these
reels that were going on. Now, the next one is called, “The Buzzard Lope.” The
Buzzard Lope, L-O-P-E, buzzard like the bird. And this came from the Ashanti Tribe.
Remember, we said that African dance had a lot to do with imitating animals? Well,
this one was one that especially would imitate animals — excuse me — now [clears
throat], with the Ashanti Tribe — the dance, because it came from Africa, it isn’t
— we’re not sure exactly how that was performed either. But with these dances we
find out that the African slaves could kind of keep in touch with their African
roots. But, at the same time, they were getting accustomed to where they were,
their environment, and they were seeing different dances as well. So, when they
would see these different dances and they knew they were mocked, then they would
mock their plantation owners. Plantation owners not knowing they were being mocked
thinking that this was like a compliment, basically in trying to do as well what
the plantation dancers were doing. All right. Now, we move into the special
occasions for dances. There were special occasions when dances were performed. The
most popular one was Saturday night frolics, they called them. So, number one would
be your Saturday night frolics. After work, Saturday night was basically the night
that they had free. So, they were allowed by the plantation owners to get together
and dance. Now, mind you the plantation owners were encouraging this because they
felt like if they got together and they danced then there would be less
insurrections. However, some of the insurrections were actually schemed in the
dance. While they were together, they would talk about what they were going to do.
So, that became an issue at one point as well. However, there were opportunities
for them to dance. The first one was the Saturday night frolic, as we said before.
The second one — let me also say, with the Saturday night frolics, sometimes the
masters would allow the slaves to go to another plantation. Now, if you had a
relative that was on that plantation, then you had an opportunity to see that
relative. If you had someone that you cared about, you were able to see that
particular person. So, that was something that sometimes happened and so the slaves
would look forward to that. There was another occasion and this was pertaining to
work. And this was called, “Corn Shucking.” And let’s look at our slide.
^M00:25:32
^M00:25:35
This is a picture of the corn shucking. And you can see there’s a lot of activity
and there’s a lot of movement.
^M00:25:43
^M00:25:47
With your Corn Shucking, you had two captains. And they had two responsibilities.
They were to make sure that their piles were even. So, as they were shucking, they
made sure that as the piles went down from one and was being raised up in another,
that these were equal. The second function of the captain was to make sure that the
cadence, that’s the beat, the rhythm, that these dances — see, they made the corn
shucking like a dance. There was a rhythm. We will talk later on about, let’s say
— let me give you an example. On the railroads they had what they called Chain
Gangs. And whenever they would hit an instrument, they would take an instrument and
hit another one to make the chain, to make the railroads, they would do it
together. And they would sing as they did it. And they became more proficient and
with the singing along with the movement, it made the work a little bit more
palatable, a little bit easier to do. Well, this was the same with the corn
shucking. As they did the rhythm — and I don’t know how exactly they did it.
There’s not research on that. But, however they did it, they did it rhythmically
and they did it as movement and they did it together. And they would sing as well
as dance. So, you have the two functions of the captain. You had one so that the
piles would stay even and, two, to keep the rhythm or the cadence of this
particular Corn Shucking. Now, after they had the corn shucking, they would also do
a dance that would celebrate their corn shucking. And our next slide shows you a
dance after the corn shucking. And you can see that they are just having a good
time and this is a time of release and gaiety for them.
^M00:28:17
^M00:28:21
Now, we come to our 3rd occasion for dance and that was at Christmas time. The
slave owners would allow the slaves to dance at Christmas time. And this was a
pretty big festivity so they really looked forward to this particular time. The
next one, number four, would by your wedding dances. Now, the slave owners did not
allow the slaves to marry. They did not want any legal documentation of anybody get
— any of the slaves getting m …
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