Bruckins folk dance in Jamaica

by Rushell
(St. Catherine)


Who brought bruckins (folk dance) to Jamaica?

ANSWER: May-07-2009 by Wellesley Gayle

Hi Rushell,

I did a bit of research for you and came up with this, from the National Library of Jamaica (NlJ).

Bruckin's is a member of the creolised group of traditional dances. As with Jonkonnu, the dance reveals a unique mixture of African and European influences.

The Bruckin's party is a stately, dipping-gliding dance typified by the "thrust and recovery" action of the hip and leg.

It was formerly done to commemorate the Emancipation of slaves on August 1, 1838.
The form and content of the dance, with Red and Blue Sets competing, is reminiscent of 19th century plantation Jonkonnu and the Set Girls' parade.

The movement was said to have been derived from the Pavanne, a European court dance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Pavanne originated in Italy.

In Bruckin's, the pomp and ceremony of British royalty is mixed with African dance performance
practices. The dance take the form of pageant - a bright processional parade of Kings, Queen, courtiers and other gentry.

The movement, however, is mainly African derived; the jotting forward of the pelvis, use of bent knees, flexed foot, tilted back torso and bent arms are all elements attributable to the dances of West Africa.

Bruckin's party would usually begin late in the evening. Dancers, formed in two sets, would proceed from one house to another, parading their costumes and displaying their dance skills.

The set was parted into two, one in red and the other in blue, consisting a King, Queen and courtiers known as grand-sons and grand-daughters, sergeants, soldiers, pages.

This was a direct imitation of what the newly-freed slaves saw as the Royal Family and their military complement.

The two sets are rivals and often kept their costumes a secret until day of the celebration.

The queen of each set would first come out and have the dance competition for the duration of
one song to see which would "bruck" the better. Following this there would be a Tea-Time session. This session, today, is very uncommon.

Bruckin's includes music from the drum, knocking of the sticks, a fife and singing songs.

The drummers and singers do not dance but move with the procession. Today Bruckin's is found
mainly in Portland, the eastern section of the island.

The coordinated culture is however kept alive by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission through festivals.

Stay in touch Rushell.


Related Pages:

Traditional Jamaican Dances
Rastafarian Faith.
Reggae Music
Free Dancehall Music
Jamaican Culture
Jamaican Musical Instruments.

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