Edited by Azizi Powell
This post showcases videos of African American & South African baton, drum major maces, flags, and rifles, and hoops twirling (spinning).
Two brief excerpts about the Kongo roots of baton twirling and a brief excerpt about African American juggling as a source of American baton twirling are also included in this post.
The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to all those who are featured in these videos and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
THE KONGO POSE AND BATON TWIRLING
From https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0253217490 Africanisms in American Culture edited by Dr. Joseph E. Halloway pp. 12-13
"Robert Farris Thompson's essay (chapter 10) contributes to our understanding of Africanisms found in African American aesthestics, revealing that the majority of African retentions in African American folk art are Bantu in origin. Thompson shows that the impact of the Kongo on African American culture contributed to the foundation of black American aesthetics and musical culture in the New World. The Kongo influence contributed to the rise of the national music of Brazil (the samba) and to one of the most sophisticated music forms in the United States (jazz).
Thompson demonstrates that Kongo influences are widespread.
...The African Haitian ritual dancing based on a dance form found in northern Kongo was adopted by the baton-twirling "major jonc" called rara. Its members twirl batons and strike a Kongo pose when confronting a rival group. it is hypothesized that in Mississippi. where many Kongo slaves resided, such groups had a major impact. Mississippi has become a world baton-twirling center".
From http://www.asarimhotep.com/index.php/articles/18-posture-and-meaning-interpreting-egyptian-art-through-a-kongo-cultural-lens publisher Asar, 27 January 2012
"The book Africanisms in American Culture edited by Dr. Joseph E. Halloway documents some of the Africanisms that have survived in the Americas during and after the enslavement period. A good number of the surviving Africanisms that have survived are in the form of poses...
The most dramatic incursion of a Kongo gesture in Haiti is the reemergent biika mambu stance. This stance is frequently called telama lwimbanganga in Northern Kongo. This pose is identifiable as the left hand on the hip and the right hand forward. This became the drum majorette pose that gave way to baton twirling in the United States.
In Kongo, placing the left hand on the hip is believed to press down all evil, while the extended right hand acts to “vibrate” the future in a positive manner. Important women used this pose at dawn to “vibrate positively” the future of town warriors. Advocates used its power to block or end a lawsuit (Halloway 2005: 298). One will notice that this is the pose for the famous Supremes song, “Stop in the name of love.”
.... The telema stance has to do with power and mediating force (power grasped and evil contained).
THE PROBABLE INFLUENCE OF EARLY 20TH CENTURY JUGGLING BY BLACK PERFORMERS ON AMERICAN BATON TWIRLING
Juggler's World: Vol. 39, No. 2 "Joe Taylor And Other Early Black Jugglers"
"With the [Negro League baseball team the] Indianapolis Clowns, he [Joe Taylor] was the pitcher, tossing balls, clubs and dinner plates around the diamond and rolling a baseball around his body.
The tradition of the minstrel show, performed by people without the need of burnt cork makeup, digs deep into the roots of American family entertainment. Though black jugglers remain a rarity, it is important to remember the solid influence that blacks have played in the field.
The Harlem Globetrotters certainly represent the oldest continuous object manipulation troupe in the world. The statistics on their travels and audiences read like world census reports - their impact on the world's acceptance of tom-foolery juggling, to say nothing of blacks and serious basketball technique, is immeasurable.
He [Joe Taylor] toured for two years with the New York Broadway Clowns basketball club before being drafted and serving in postwar Germany. On his return, he played with the Harlem Magicians Basketball Show and later the Indianapolis Clowns Baseball Team. With the Indianapolis Clowns, he was the pitcher, tossing balls, clubs and dinner plates around the diamond and rolling a baseball around his body.
As he matured, he stayed in touch with other jugglers. He visited Montandon when he passed through Oklahoma and wrote a piece on comedy ball rolling for Montandon's "Juggler's Bulletin Annual." While in Germany, he met with Max Koch and sent back an interview with this human Mecca of the juggling world for readers of the "Newsletter."
And that's about all we know of Taylor, the IJA's first black member. The "Bulletin" and "Newsletter" can take a little pride in the fact that they publicized him. And Taylor can take pride in having left Wellington Street to take a run at having his skills, rather than his color, recognized by the world.
A Sampling of Early Black Jugglers
George Rowland: Probably the best known, most successful black juggler, and one of the earliest; he was one of the first "dressed up" tramp jugglers, playing the circuits in the early decades of this century.
Thatcher, Primrose, and West: included baton twirling in their act.
"The Great English:" Hoop roller, popular around 1910.
The Billy Kersard Colored Minstrels: employed a juggler of balls, hats, cigars, and plates.
Will Cook: toured with the Black Patti Colored Musical Comedy Co.
Albert Drew: juggler and wire walker with the A.G. Allen Colored Minstrels.
Arthur Prince: Club and hoop juggler with the Huntington Colored Minstrels.
Coy Herndon and Silas Greer: With the New Orleans Colored Musical Comedy troupe. Herndon was reported to be one of the best hoop rollers ever"...
FEATURED VIDEOS - CONTEMPORARY BATON TWIRLING IN THE UNITED STATES AND SOUTH AFRICA
Example #1: Saint Dominics High School Drum Majorettes 2005 LARGE DRILL [South Africa]
Quepeedoo Uploaded on Aug 14, 2010
Example #2: SOUTH SHORE DRILL TEAM - Bud Billiken Parade 2010 [United States]
South Shore Drill Team, Uploaded on Mar 2, 2011
South Shore Drill Team doing it at the Bud in 2010!
The Bud Billiken Parade is an annual Chicago, Illinois parade commemorating the beginning of the school year for children and youth.
From my YouTube video searching it appears that this South Shore Drill Team [from Chicago, Illinois] and the other Chicago, Illinois drill team showcased in Example #4 are rare examples of African American drill teams that do rifle [and other types of] twirling routines. Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/09/in-praise-of-south-shore-drill-team.html for a pancocojams post of the South Shore drill team that includes a video of that unit of that group doing flag and other types of twirls routines.
View Video #6 & Video #7 [added January 9, 2014] for videos of a predominately African American troupe of baton twirlers.
Example #3: 2013 Mokete Wa Leru [South Africa]
Ngedwani Mgcina Published on Apr 23, 2013
Majeremane (Selemo se secha)
Hat tip to slam2011 who shared the information that "Selemo se secha" means "Happy New Year" in Lesotho, a South African language on this pancocojams post- http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/01/videos-of-south-african-gospel-brass.html
Example #4: GOLDEN KNIGHTS DRILL TEAM 2013 [United States]
Ronnell Johnson, Published on Aug 11, 2013
2013 BUD BILLIKEN PARADE
Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIi8BViWnZM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIi8BViWnZM for a brief video of toddler in this group's uniform practicing twirling a rifle.
Example #5: NC A&T - Halftime (Post-Game) 9.7.2013 [United States]
Thomas L. Jones, Jr. Published on Sep 8, 2013
The Aggie band salutes legendary artists Madonna and Lady Gaga during the post-game festivities against Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. I'd also like to point out that all songs are in their original keys: "Edge of Glory" - A Major, "Borderline" - D Major, Express Yourself/Born This Way" - G Major, "Crazy for You" - E Major, "Poker Face" - Ab Minor...
NC A&T = North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University, Greensboro, North Carolina.
ADDED VIDEOS [January 10, 2014]
From searching YouTube, it appears that many (if not most) contemporary African American marching bands and African American drill teams have changed the definition of majorettes from "female baton twirlers" to "females who perform certain styles of dancing and/or marching/step movements to certain types of music", which rarely includes snare drums.
It's very difficult to find any video of a HBCU (historically Black college and university) or an African American high school unit (or predominately African American high school unit) that features baton twirling. Here are three such videos that I found:
Example #6: Intro the KSU Majorettes [United States]
ksumajorette. Uploaded on Sep 5, 2010
Kentucky State University added the auxiliary twirling group to the Marching Thorobreds in January 2009 thanks to the efforts of Sophia Marie Thompson [captain of that group].
"KU" = Kentucky State University, a historically Black university. From the comment section, this unit was just started in January 2009. Other commenters indicated that these were basic baton twirling techniques.
Example #7: Mcd 35 Majorettes 2008-2009 [United States]
msgee351 Published on Oct 23, 2012
An Old video from 35 vs a school in Alexandria I think. I cant remember. Missing our first co-captain this night Monique!!!
"Mcd" = McDonogh. I think this is a high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But I'm not sure of that.
There is also a 2012 video of this group performing baton twirls.
Example 8: McMain Majorettes 2012 [United States]
tayariane, Published on Nov 11, 2012
I think that this video is of a high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But I'm not sure of that.
Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWlbtt3njyQ, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmx2JF1es8Y for two videos of African American troupes with the word "majorette" in the group's name who didn't perform any baton twirling in those videos. The first video, from 2011, is entitled "Lovely Lavish Ladies, Majorettes of MTSU *Game 1*" "MTSU" is Middle Tennessee State University. It is a non-historically Black university.
The summary of the second video, published in 2013, indicates that "Bellevue Middle School Majorettes take it back to the old school with a drumline, while all the other majorettes at the jamboree used CD's."
Cane twirling is another form of twirling that is performed by certain historically Black Greek lettered organizations. Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/11/cane-performances-in-black-fraternities.html for videos of cane twirling.
Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos or who have been quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
Thank you for visiting pancocojams.
Visitor comments are welcome.