Ring shout performers. The group formed in the Bolden community of McIntosh County on the coast of Georgia to promote the survival of the Ring shout —the oldest African American performance tradition in North America. The group performs after church worship services and on special occasions at a local church, Mt. Calvary Baptist. Because of space limitations in the sanctuary, an annex was built behind the church to accommodate performance of the ring shout, which employs call-and-response singing, percussive rhythm, and expressive and formalized dance-like movement in a counter-clockwise ring. Presumed to have died out in the 20th century, the tradition was rediscovered in 1980 when the group consented to perform at the Sea Island Festival on St. Simon’s Island in Glynn County, Georgia. The repertory is often Biblical in nature and consists of a special song type, at one time called a “running spiritual,” and believed to be a precursor to the Negro spiritual. In ...
Paula J. Bishop
Hawaiian hula school in Hilo, Hawaii. Founded in 1953 by Edith Kanaka’ole, the school has been instrumental in the preservation and dissemination of hula and chant practices associated with Pele, the goddess of fire. Knowledge about these traditions was passed down to Kanaka’ole through matrilineal descent for at least seven generations, and she in turn instructed her own daughters, Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele and Nalani Kanaka’ole, who inherited the school in 1979 upon their mother’s death.
The style of hula taught and performed by the school, ’aiha’a, is characterized by a bent-knee posture and vigorous movements, a reflection of the energy and power of the volcano goddess. In addition to learning hula, dancers at the school become fully immersed in the culture of Hawaii and hula. They learn the Hawaiian language and how to play the ipu (gourd) and pahu (sharkskin drum), and create their own costumes and props using the traditional materials and practices....