Friday, April 10, 2015

African American Examples Of Walk Arounds - Ring Shouts And Other Religious Expressions

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a three part pancocojams series on African American examples of historical and contemporary walk around (circle) movements.

Part II features five examples of religious walkaround movements - videos of religious ring shouts and other religious expressions.

This examples included in this post aren't meant to represent all examples of African American religious walk around movements.

The comments in the beginning of the essay that is showcased in Part I provide some background to these walk around examples.

Part I showcases Andrew Antonio Allen's essay about African American walk around dances and other movements including the Chicago style walk. This essay was written for the "Personal Recollections: The History Of Stepping Project. ("Chicago Stepping" is also known as "Chicago Bop" dance styles.) Click for that post.

Part III features examples of non-religious walk around movements including the cakewalk, Chicago stepping (dance), and historically Black Greek letter fraternity and sorority strolling. Click for that post.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, cultural, religious, entertainment, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

[Excerpt ADDED August 19, 2017] From Spiritual to Freedom Song: Tracing the Road to Freedom through Music


The Birth of an Art Form
Spirituals, religious folk songs of sorrow, hope, and redemption, provided comfort and a means of expression to enslaved African Americans. They were a method of coping for a people forced to abandon their native traditions to take on the culture of a hostile, unfamiliar world. They were a participatory art form that survived the Middle Passage, and became a way of life.

Characterized by their use of traditional West African rhythmic and harmonic patterns, the spirituals often employ a “call and response” pattern in which a leader sings or chants a few lines and the group repeats or offers variations on the lines in response. The songs thus draw upon many of the practices central to the African cultures the slaves had been forced to leave behind, emphasizing the primacy of the spoken word, celebrating verbal improvisation, and encouraging group participation.[2]

The retention of those West African rhythms and harmony was evident in the tradition known as the ring shout, an ecstatic expression of praise in which men and women moved in a shuffling, dancelike counterclockwise movement to singing and the beat of stomping feet, clapping hands, and other improvised percussion. This tradition, practiced largely by enslaved persons on the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, was called “shouting.” It is believed that the word “shout” was derived from the Arabic word, sha’wt, (which pertains to the circular movement, not the singing), and the movements of the ring shout echo of that West African dance.

Lorenzo Dow Turner, an African American academic and linguist who extensively studied the culture and language of the Gullah people of the Sea Islands during the 1930s, determined the ring shout was “directly inherited from Muslim slaves that had been brought to the Sea Islands.” In doing the ring shout, they recreated the act of moving around a sacred object, similar to the movement of Muslim pilgrims around the Ka’bah in Mecca. [3]

The ring shout also spawned secular dances such as the “buzzard lope,” and was a precursor to the “Greek Step” tradition among African American fraternity and sorority groups.* Variations of the “shout” still exist in some African American faith communities today.
*Italics added to highlight this sentence.

Even more than steppin', the historically Black Greek letter organizations movement activity known as "strolling" (or "party walks") with their circular formations should be considered to be a contemporary remnant of ring shouts.
-end of August 20, 2017 addition.

These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting dates on YouTube, with the exception of the ring shout examples which are presented first.

Example #1: Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters perform.MP4

hoshidas47, Uploaded on Jul 23, 2011
The ring shout begins at 2:19 in that video. The religious song is "Give Me Two Wings".

Example #2: Weeksville Heritage Center

Mireille Liong, Published on Jul 7, 2012

RUN MARY RUN: Jubilee Curator and choreographer Rashida Bumbray's newest installment of her dance work, RUN MARY RUN : Jubilee, considers the harmonic ideas and tonal vocabulary of the McIntosh County Shouters. Creating an active ritual for the ceremony of the ring shout, Bumbray and the performers take us on a ride through the cosmologies of the Low Country, Geechie Sea Islands, Tennessee Blues, P Funk, and Hip Hop. This iteration of Run Mary Run is developed in collaboration with Dance Diaspora Collective and special guest master dancer, Adenike Sharpley, Professor, Oberlin College.
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
Azaka86, 2012
"I have to say as a member of The McIntosh County Shouters. This is by far the greatest reinactment of the ring shout in a ceremonal fashion I have ever seen. Growing up and watchin the ring shout as a child the elder never took the shout to the point it was taken in this clip, because of the rules of "church" against dancing but to see that you guy held true to the shuffling of the feet while making the circle truly make me proud. The only thing that was missing was the beating of the stick. :)"

Azaka86, 2012
[in response to the video publisher's thanks]
"You are most welcome and in shuffing your feet you must be in beat with the music. very awesome job just slow down allow yourselves to become one with the music and the song. That is when you really know you are shouting and not just going around in a circle. And whoever lead the song beautiful voice"

Roz Harden, 2015
"Ring Shout in in best form. I love this song "You Got A Right" "

[Comment added to post on 10/4/2016]

Giksy Redcloud, 2016

Many of the slaves in the Gullah Geechee belt were taken from the Futa Tooro region of southern Mauritania. Futa Tooro was destroyed when occupied by the french and it became Mauritania. The people there still do the same dance.
The name of this video is "fulbe Mauritania"

Example #3: Crystal's run,shout praise

terence hobbs. Uploaded on Jul 10, 2009

Lord i'm running,trying to make 100, 99 1/2 won't do!!!
Selected comment:
Blckberi, 2014
"You better run and praise Him! All of you who find this wrong should just shut right on up. If David danced and tore his clothes off while praising God, who are we to tell anyone else how to praise the Lord. Run, dance, clap, sing, cry, snap your fingers, leap, fall out, it doesn't matter. God wants all of our praise. Stop judging how someone expresses their love and appreciation for who God is in their life. Well if you ever come to my church, you better praise or move out of the way and give us room to do it."

Example #4: MCHCA Ushers & Nurses Grand March

Mount Calvary Holy Church Inc, Uploaded on Aug 19, 2009

Example #5: Ushers Day Celebration...and they Marched for Jesus

Uploaded by GodsBlessingU on May 3, 2010

Anointed One Ministries Ushers Day Celebration ... as the Ushers Strutted during offering. Services were held at Bethel AME Church in Cambridge, MD

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment