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  • This unit is fantastic for illustrating an era of enslavement in our nation's history. By analyzing the songs, our students can begin to take themselves back to that era and begin an attempt to understand the evils of slavery.  Ties to Hariet Tubman and the underground railroad are very easily made while listening to "Wade in the Water." The dancing was fantastic because it manifest the common cultural tie of dance to all peoples of the world.  We understand our concept of "fish" so dancing the fish dance was fun and easy.  Our kids would love to do these dances as we learn African history in 9th grade world history.  Again, this would be another great way to get the kids moving out of their seats and link dance movement into the unit material.

  • Wow!  Your responses were detailed and powerful!  Thank you!  Great picture of spirituals: beauty/sorrow! What fun to dance together with Noemia!  She brought out so many dynamic connections!

    Bravo, everyone!

  • Boy, the more I read up on these minstrel shows, the more dumbfounded I become. It's not just the potential sensitive nature of the performance itself, it's also the fact that I'd never heard of them before!! Perhaps another stroll down History Lane would be a good thing to view now through my "musical" glasses. Lots to think about. Kudos ladies!! gp

  • I am really making the connection between history and the music and songs that come about because of such events.  There is so much power in a song.  The Negro Spirituals were stories of tradition, hope and sorrow.  The dance teacher was great, so much energy and excitment for what she does.  She shared how the Brazilian/African people would take such a simple concept as fire, water, air, the earth, and even cooking and make a dance out of it.  It reminds me of some dances of today; such as the sprinkler, and the lawnmower.   That would be another quick easy assignment for students to come up with a dance to reflect a lesson on a time period just taught. 

    I wish we could have learned more about the Native American dances since it applies so much to our Alaskan culture. 

    I enjoyed hearing some of the history behind the patriotic songs and how competive it was in writing them.  Students could write their own songs after learning about a certain period of time, war, or historical event.  The assignment could even be turned around and have them write a song about todays events;  political messages, wars, sporting or school event.  Today was a great day, and well worth my time.

  • I loved the African dancing!  It was interesting because every dance move imitated something in real life - nature, animals, daily living, etc.  I actually thought it made the moves easier to learn.  I loved that everyone was just having fun and letting themselves go.  I use Negro Spirituals in my classroom all the time, and my kids LOVE them. 

  • 3:51 PM - Negro Spirituals / Civil War

    A unique perspective on the spiritual side of the spiritual. Differences in perspective particularly impressed me here in this section. If we can strive to not only tolerate, but to seek out alternative points of view, we will have a more accurate picture of what we strive to understand. A careful reexamination of our past can sometimes ease the pain of previous mistakes if we allow them to teach us.

    Movement seems to always be a common bond. The lessons learned through it are not easily forgotten. Love the dance!!

  • Wow!   First off, my heartbeat is finally starting to slow down.  The dance teacher was mesmorizing!  She was captivating in her stories and in her dance.  What a gift to have such a talented individual come and lead us in dance!  The kind of excitement that I feel is what I believe teachers want to inspire in their students!  I am inspired!

        Since I just traveled to the South in April,  I've been especially interested in the history and specifically the history of slavery.  I drove past Harriet Tubman's hometown and Museum and was very disappointed that I didn't have sufficient time to stop.   Then  I was amazed that Wade In The Water was used by Harriet Tubman to warn slaves to go to the water to keep their scent from being followed.

    It's just so interesting for me to be making so many connections. 

  • In 1970 I taught from an African/Brazil record.  Noemia Reese, our dance instructor from UAA told me that my favorite elementary dance from that collection, "The Marakatu",  is still taught.  It is a dance that combines Portucal and Brazilian spirit used in parades.

    I loved the motions of telling the story of cooking  so easily presented.  Having a set of drum music in a Ipod will be important.  

  • Wade in the Water

    The text of this spiritual is much like many others, using everyday difficulties to direct their thoughts, and actions often times to stay alive. Specifically this song uses the flight of the Israelites from Egypt to encourage and direct the Black American flight from slavery.  Music will parallel the plight of any civilization because the music reflects the toil, celebration, ceremony, political and life cycles of every people.

    The same can be found in other Civil War ballads, patriotic, spirituals, music. 

    As demonstrated in class with the dance instructor, the same can be found with drum beat and dance.  It is an invigorating activity that every student (and all the adults in this class enjoyed).  Lots of smiling!

  •  The underlying theme for me when examining both the African American spirituals and the African-influenced dance is connections.  Whether it's Biblical references or elemental connections, the music and dance are well-rooted in other cultural contexts.  I admire the tenacity with which they held on to their cultural traditions, even while confronted with religious conversion and dehumanization.  What a lesson for our students to learn:  no matter what changes you’re faced with, hang on to what you know, deep down, is important.  Whatever life changes our students face, the passion, hope, and perseverance expressed through African American art forms provides an example of overcoming adversity. 

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