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Analysis: Jonkonnu

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 366
  • Category: Dance

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Jonkonnu is more than just a celebration; it is a dance and a musical tradition as well. However, Jonkonnu dance traditions make it the island’s oldest style on record. It blends authentically Jamaican styles to become the dance performed at today’s celebrations. Typically, African groups would enact mime-style plays, while European traditions of folk theater played short scenes and recitations. Specific dances are ascribed to the dancers, each with their own role and character to portray. ·Pitchy Patchy dances with small, quick steps and turns cartwheels. He moves in large, circular patterns. ·Cow Head moves in bucking motions and is usually bent low to the ground.

·Devil alternates small, bouncy steps with much longer ones and makes quick turns and jabs with his pitchfork. ·Belly Woman, sometimes considered to be a negative image of mulatto women, made movements with her belly in time to the music. Set Girls are in costume groups divided between blue and red, usually played by mulatto women, often mistresses. However, this tradition is no longer carried out. Similarly, the character of Babu developed in East Indian communities.

“Red Indians” are also characters that were cultivated to participate in the dance, and, though they may represent the Taínos, they could have more to do with the mix with other cultures. The dance’s source in fertility rites can still be seen in the style of the dance moves, including one where the dancers suddenly stop with their hips forward. Other hip-based dance moves are important to the celebrations as well. Further, while it’s been associated with Christmas festivities, Jonkonnu is not a religious dance. Pukkumina

Pukkumina dances are based in the rituals of Myalism, but they are part of the Revival tradition. Pukkumina is a distinct Revivalist group and not the same as Zion. Most notable for its possession rituals, this group is also famous for its dances. The rituals themselves differ from place to place, but they all use music and improvised melodies and harmonies to help induce possession. These three-day festivals include many different aspects, but dancers who surround the leader move in a manner similar to Turkish whirling dervishes, suggesting East Indian influences as well.

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