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Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Bruck" Movement Included In Examples Of Jamaican Children's Singing Games Published in 1922

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides two examples of Jamaican children's singing games that mention "bruck" or "brucking" that are included in the 1922 book Folk-Games of Jamaica collected by Martha Warren Beckwith with music notated by Helen H. Roberts. Both of those examples include the word "bruck" as a type of dance or another type of movement.

These examples are significant because they document that the word "bruck" was used as a dance or movement term in Jamaica long before the advent of the 1990s "bruk up" dance that was created and popularized by the dancer known by that name (Bruck Up"/George Adams). And these examples also document that the word "bruck" was used in Jamaica long before the 2012 Dancehall record "Bruk It Down" by Mr. Vegas. That said, it's my guess that the movement referred to as "bruck" in the singing games in that 1922 book was probably the same as or similar to the Caribbean movement known as "wining" [gyrating your hips] rather than the dance moves now known as "bruk up" or "bruk it down", dance moves which aren't the same thing. "Bruk up"= more contortionist pantomining storytelling, and "bruk it down" = twerking.

The Addendum of this post includes links to a "bruk up" video and the above mentioned "Bruk It Down" video. Excerpts from two articles about "bruk up" and "flex" dancing are also included in the Addendum.

The content of this post is provided for folkloric, cultural, historical, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remains with their owners.

Thanks to the Jamaican children whose singing games are featured in this 1922 book. Thanks also to Martha Warren Beckwith and Helen H. Roberts for their field work and editing this book. Thanks also to those who published Folk-Games of Jamaica on the internet.

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NOTES ABOUT THESE EXAMPLES
These examples are given as found online, including the asterisks with the exception of the citation of the source.
.

The words in parenthesis are place names in Jamaica where the example was collected.

The notes given below the example are citations of other examples of similar songs.

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FEATURED SINGING GAME #1
Bluebird

(Bethlehem.)

Outside, Bluebell, through the window,
Outside, Bluebell, through the window,
Inside, Bluebell, through the window,
Tra-la-la-la-la.

Outside, Bluebell, through the window,
Inside, Bluebell, through the window,
Welcome, Bluebell, through the window,
Tra-la-la-la-la.

Pick a little Bluebell, through the window,
Pick a little Bluebell, through the window,
Pick a little Bluebell, through the window,
Tra-la-la-la-la.

Pick a little Bluebell and pat her on the shoulder,
Pick a little Bluebell and pat her on the shoulder,
Pick a little Bluebell and pat her on the shoulder,
Tra-la-la-la-la.

Then you ride little Bluebell, through the window,
Then you ride little Bluebell, through the window,
Then you ride little Bluebell, through the window,
Tra-la-la-la-la.

Then you run little Bluebell, through the window,
Then you run little Bluebell, through the window,
Then you run little Bluebell, through the window,
Tra-la-la-la-la.

Then you wheel little Bluebell, through the window,
Then you wheel little Bluebell, through the window,
Then you wheel little Bluebell, through the window,
Tra-la-la-la-la.

Then you bruck little Bluebell, through the window,
Then you bruck little Bluebell, through the window,
Then you bruck little Bluebell, through the window,
Tra-la-la-la-la.

The players form a circle, Little Bluebell runs in and out of
the circle according to the words of the song, then "picks" a part-
ner and "pats," "rides," "runs," "wheels" and "bruks" with her
while all sing. The partner chosen becomes "Little Bluebell" in
the next game.

47 Newell, 118; Gardner (Michigan), JAFL 33, 94.

Source: http://archive.org/stream/Folk-gamesOfJamaica/FolkGamesJamaica_Beckwith_84pgs51310747_djvu.txt
Folk-Games of Jamaica Collected by Martha Warren Beckwith with music recorded in the field by Helen H. Roberts, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 1922, Example #60, pages 69-70

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FEATURED SINGING GAME #2 : Mother Roland's Daughter

(J. Christiana.)

De grass so green, de lemon on de tree,
De bunch ob roses fallin' down,
Turn to de east an* turn to de west,
An* turn to de pretty little somber gal.
Take a lily an* a lily white rose,
Give her a-cross de ocean,
Give her a kiss an* a one, two, free,
An* bruck Mudder Rolan's daughter.

Bruck Mudder Rolan's daughter,

Bruck Mudder Rolan's daughter,

Bruck Mudder Rolan', bruck Mudder Rolan',

Bruck Mudder Rolan's daughter.

b. (Ballard's Valley.)

The grass so green, the lemon on the tree,
The bunch of roses we all can see.
Turn to the east, turn to the west,
Turn to the very one you love the best.
Oh, take a lily an* a lily-white girl,
And skip her across the ocean,
Give her a kiss and a one, two, three,
And jig Mother Roland's daughter.

(1) Jig Mother Roland's daughter,
Jig Mother Roland's daughter,

Jig Mother Roland, jig Mother Roland,
Jig Mother Roland silly girl.

(2) Dip Mother Roland's daughter. . . .

(3) Bruck Mother Roland's daughter . . .

(4) Wheel Mother Roland's daughter. . . .

Players join hands in a ring, two inside. All dance and sing.
At line six, the two in the center choose two out of the ring and
"skip," "jig," "dip," "brack,*" and "wheel" with them according
to the words of the song, which may be varied to suit the players.

48 "Rosy Apple, Lemon and Pear," Gomme II, 117; Udal (Dorsetshire), Folk-
lore Journal 7, 210; County Folk-lore (Suffolk), 64; (Surrey) Folk-lore Record 5, 85.
Cf. "Tread, tread the Green Grass*' and "Uncle John," Newell, 50, 72. In some
Versions, the name of the player is substituted for "Madame Roland." In Dorset-
shire, the song runs "old mother's runaway daughter"; in Suffolk it reads "Mrs.
Kilburn's daughter."

Source: http://archive.org/stream/Folk-gamesOfJamaica/FolkGamesJamaica_Beckwith_84pgs51310747_djvu.txt
Folk-Games of Jamaica Collected by Martha Warren Beckwith with music recorded in the field by Helen H. Roberts, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 1922, Example #61, pages 70-71
-snip-
"Brack" given in the directions for the singing game is probably a typo for “bruck”

"Wheel" means to spin around fast then stop and spin in the opposite direction.

"Jig" means to dance.

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PROBABLE MEANING OF "BRUCK" IN THESE SINGING GAMES
Based soley on the way that many contemporary Jamaicans dance at parties and clubs (as shown in dancehall videos), I think that it's likely that the word "bruck" in these Jamaican children's singing games refers to "wining" (gyrating their hips seductively) and/or doing a dance that is similar if not the same as what is now known as "twerking".

This definition for the contemporary Jamaican slang phrase "bruk it down" may be similar if thot of to the actions these children did while singing those songs:

From http://jamaicanpatwah.com/term/Bruk-It-Dung/1419#.VPi_mI3wtv4
"Bruk It Dung (Noun)

English Translation
Break It Down

Definition
Jamaican dance move similar to twerking in which the dancer shakes her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion.

Example Sentences [none given]

Patois: bruk, bruk, bruk, bruk, bruk, bruk it dung!
English: Break, break, break, break, break, break it down!

Related Words
Wine, Daggering, Bubble, Dutty wine ,
posted by oneidamorgan on October 2, 2013
-snip-
Definition of "wine" from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wine
"form of dance, involves gyration of hips, can be slow or fast must always be sexy. performed to mainly west indian music like reggae, calypso and soca.

if you don't mind...would you take a wine with me?
by destra November 05, 2003
-snip-
It should be noted that in Jamaica the word "bruck"/"bruk" combined with an adverb doesn't always refer to dancing. For example, "Bruk out" [is a] Slang expression used to describe someone who acts unruly or rebellious". http://jamaicanpatwah.com/term/Bruk-out/1456#.VPi-lY3wtv4

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ADDENDUM
Link to a video about "Bruk Up" dance:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLuYj9ZKxd4 Bruk Up origins (The movement) pt.1
Uploaded by by LBXdancers, on Apr 28, 2011
"The Bruck Up style was founded in Jamaica nd moved to NY around the yr 94'.
Bruck Up was founded by the man dancing in this named Bruck Up (George
Adams)... it has its own interpretation of animation (jamaican flavored) and storytelling.... with trademark moves such as the crabwalk, the shoulder pop, and many many more. Bruk Up (the original style) also has more looser movements tht look similar to Shotta dancing. Bruck Up in the current days incorporated waving, gliding, and bone breaking into the style for transitional purposes. The style has gradually evolved since then...'

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Excerpt from http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/332-bounce-ballroom/
"Bounce Ballroom: A Night of Voguing, Flexing, and Housing"
By Miles Raymer, May 2, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. EDT
..."Hot 97 DJ Bobby Konders represented dancehall for the night, with a group of Brooklyn bruk-up and flex dancers accompanying him from a tiered stage. Bruk-up is the Jamaican style that you might be familiar with if you’ve ever watched any dancehall music videos; flexing is its Brooklyn-born descendent that pushes impressionistic breakdance moves like the robot into the fully abstract realm. (You may have seen this New Yorker profile on flex dancer Storyboard P.) The combination is a study in contrasts: sinuousness versus twitchiness, vogue-like fluidity versus something like a hyper-exaggerated version of the robot. At least two of the dancers were double-jointed. A husky member of the troupe took a solo shirtless, the better to show off his girth. One of them lifted up his t-shirt to demonstrate the compellingly odd and kind of gross way he can suck his gut in. It was a small demonstration of the possibilities of the human body, which is in many ways the basic job of dance."
-snip-
Click http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/01/06/the-impossible-body
Onward and Upward with the Arts January 6, 2014 Issue
The Impossible Body: Storyboard P, the Basquiat of street dancing.

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Excerpt from the New Yorker profile of flex dancer Storyboard P [That article includes one instance of profanity and one instance of a homophobic referent.]
The style ][Flex] originated in the nineties, in Jamaica, where a young dancer who called himself Bruck Up—patois for, roughly, “broken”—became famous despite, or perhaps because of, having suffered a bone infection in his right leg as a child. Bruck Up’s style, heavy on rubbery contortions, spread through Brooklyn reggae clubs around the turn of the century, giving rise to flex...

Storyboard builds on the tension between virtuosity and handicap in Bruck Up’s dancing; he creates a feeling of grace only to hobble it. He performs languorous twirls and glides, but fits of trembling motion give the impression that he moves under painful constraint"...

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Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5EBrftUKBY for Mr. Vegas' "Bruk It Down"
[Warning: That video might be considered somewhat risque.]

Note that "bruck"/"bruk" aren't the same thing as the United States dance terms "buck" [the tap dance "buck and wing", or the clogging term "buck dancer" or the New Orleans Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs/second line term "buck jumpers", or the New Orleans Hip Hop/Majorette term "bucking" as
it is included in battle stands which have been popularized on the American television show "Bring It!".

Pancocojams posts on each of those subjects can be found by entering those terms in this blog's search engine.

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