Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Article Reprints And Article Excerpts About Jamaica's Dinki Mini Dance

JAFSProject, Apr 17, 2019

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a pancocojams post about Jamaica's Dinki Mini dances.

This post showcases a YouTube video of two couples dancing dinki mini and provides information from several online sources about Jamaica's Dinki Mini. 

Click for Part II of this pancocojams series. Part II showcases two YouTube videos about Jamaica's traditional dance called "Dinki Mini". Selected comments from the discussion thread of one of these YouTube videos are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in this video and thanks to the publisher of this videos on YouTube. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.
Click for a 2012 pancocojams post entitled "Jamaican Dinki Mini Dancing". That post is Part I of a three part pancocojams series about traditional Jamaican dances. The links to the other posts in that series are given in that post. That 2012 post features other videos than the ones that are embedded in this 2021 pancocojams post. 

These articles are given in no particular order. Numbers are added for referencing purposes only.

Article #1
From [The link to this article is no longer active. This article was quoted in the 2012 pancocojams post about Dinki Mini whose link is given above.
"What is Dinki Mini and Gerreh?

Both dances are of African origin of the wake tradition usually performed after the death of a person, and up until the ninth night after the death. These sessions are usually held to cheer the bereaved.

Dinki Mini originates from the Congolese word ‘ndingi’ which means lamentation or funeral song. Dinkies are celebratory occasions. Although associated with death, the music is lively, joyous, and exciting, intending to cheer the family and friends of the dear person. Dinki Mini was practised openly throughout slavery but is now done mainly during our annual Festival celebration.

However, it is still performed in the parishes of St. Mary, St Ann, St Andrew and Portland, while Gerreh is found in the parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland and St. James. Its popularity came about from the death of Tacky, a hero of the Maroons, as it was performed during his funeral celebrations.

Popular at set-ups or nine-nights, the first few nights consist of singing and dancing to Mento music. The sixth to the eighth night is dominated by ring games, role playing, riddles and Anancy stories. On the ninth night, a ritual to send off the ‘mature’ spirit to begin its journey ‘home’ is performed. The family of the deceased will ‘turn out’ the spirit by turning over mattresses and rearranging rooms.

The aim of the ritual is to properly send the spirit on its journey. Hymns such as “Rock of Ages” are sung.

Included in the activities, is the feeding of the dancers and singers who will not hesitate to remind the householders of this duty. This is done in song.

While refreshment is provided at the set-up, a mini feast is prepared for the Ninth Night. This consists of fried fish, coffee, or chocolate tea, crackers and bread. In some parishes curried goat and rice with mannish water (i.e. goat had soup) is served.

Instruments associated with Dinki Mini are shakas, katta sticks, condensed milk tins, grater, the tamboo (cylindrical shaped drum) and the benta. The benta is an accident stringed instrument – a fret board made of bamboo and a gourd resonator.

The Dinki Mini dance focuses in the pelvic region, as it is performed in defiance of the death that has occurred. The dancers, male and female together, make suggestive rotations with the pelvis in an attempt to prove that they are stronger than death, as they have the means to reproduce.

The lyrics of the songs associated with Gerreh are also suggestive. Gerreh however had another dimension – the bamboo dance – that is dancing on elevated bamboo poles and between four bamboo poles brought together and pulled back by four crouching players."

Article #2
From " Islington Culture Group preserving Dinki Mini"
Paul H. Williams, Published July 21, 2012
"JEFFREY TOWN, St Mary: THEY ARE young, energetic and talented, and they created a stir at the St Mary Breadfruit Festival held on Sunday, July 15. And they were not making boiled breadfruit punch. They were tossing the Dinki Mini into the mix.

In what was easily the high point of the day-time segment of the festival of breadfruits, the members of the Islington Culture Group from St Mary used their bodies and voices to say loud and clear that the Dinki Mini is alive and kicking - pun intended.

The Dinki Mini has its roots in the Congo region of Africa, and it comes from the Congolese word, 'ndingi', which is a song of lamentation played at funerals or during the periods leading up to them. Though associated with death, Dinki Mini rituals were celebratory occasions of merriment and joy. The original purpose was to cheer up the family and relatives of the deceased.

This particular ritual of singing, music, and dancing was carried out in Jamaica by Congo people who were enslaved on plantations. The focus of the dance movements is on the pelvis. The hips are suggestively rotated by both male and female dancers. That erotic rotation is a story told by the hips about the ability to reproduce, a victory over death.

Bent knees and heel-and-toe foot movements are other important element of the Dinki Mini dance. The drums and other instruments are played in peculiar ways, and the music is characteristically lively and hypnotic, and can hurl performers and onlookers into a frenzy. And on Sunday, while the artistry of the young dancers was to be commended, the passion of the lead singers and musicians exploded at Ben's World, where the breadfruit festival was held.

cultural form

Nowadays, Dinki Mini rituals are practised mainly in St Mary, St Ann, and Portland, a region in which enslaved Congolese were concentrated. Groups such as the Islington Culture Group are making sure that the Dinki Mini is kept alive, not only at funerals, but also at festive and cultural events.

All under the age of 30, and graduates of Islington High School, where they had been involved in this cultural form, the members seem to be really interested in preserving the Dinki Mini. "Culture is nice and it's good for every young person, it don't matter where they are from. Get involved, know your culture, and keep it alive," Ricardo Forsythe, the leader of the group, declared, "We are the younger ones, but we have to teach the smaller ones who will replace us."

And although there is the allure of dancehall popular culture, which some people say is pulling younger Jamaicans away from our indigenous cultural forms, interest in the Dinki Mini is still very strong among young people in St Mary. Forsythe believes the group is an inspiration to other young people in their communities, and said he would never turn away anyone who showed an interest in his group, which used to perform for tourists at Tacky's Falls in St Mary. They will be performing at the grand gala on Independence Day."...

Article #3
Jamaica’s Heritage in Dance [no author or publishing date given]

" [...]

Dinki Mini is done on the Eastern end of the island in the parish of St. Mary. It is usually performed after the death of a person until the ninth night. These ‘Nine-Night’ sessions are lively and are held usually to cheer up the bereaved. During the performance the male dancer bends one leg at the knee and makes high leaps on the other foot. Both male and females dance together with very suggestive pelvic movements. An integral aspect of this dance is the use of the instrument called a benta.



This folk dance form is rarely heard of but is similar in form and structure to the Dinki Mini as it forms part of the death observances and rituals in Portland. The difference is in the main instruments which is a pair of Kumina drums.

Article #4
" [...]

Dinki Mini

Dinki Mini (from Congolese "ndingi," and called Gerreh in some parts of Jamaica) is performed over the course of a ritual wake, along with the Kumina. The dance has the same purpose - to cheer the mourners and remind them of life. Dancers sway with suggestive hip rotations, heel-toe stepping and bent knees in a performance which has become a cultural artifact. The Congo-derived moves can still be found where Congolese slaves first lived in Jamaica - in the parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland on Jamaica's northeast coast."

This concludes Part I of this two part pancocojams series.

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