|The history of drum & dance
For it is our understanding of the past that will prepare us for the future.
Dance and Music play an important part in the life of African peoples. For it is considered to be a major part of the
African American expression. It is performed to worship God, honor our ancestors, to make hard work easier, to
celebrate important events in the community such as initiations, coming of age ceremonies, marriages, funerals,
births, deaths and to celebrate the harvest. Not only was it used for these purposes only, but was said to be used as
a form of communication among our people long before any formal language ever came to exist. African drum and
dance were chosen to represent the nobility and tribute of a great civilization. Upon their arrival here white
plantation owners responded by banning all drumming and dancing. This brought on a rebellion by slaves that was
increased with the aid of messages transmitted by drum signals. And so slaves were forced to search for other
percussion as well as dance options. In selecting music any instrument or music making or communication,
consideration is given to its melodic and rhythmic capacities, its evocative or dramatic power, or its symbolic
reference. Drums are among the more popular African instruments, but other important percussion instruments
include clap sticks, bells, rattles, slit gongs, struck gourds, clay pots, stamping tubes and xylophones. The substitute
instruments included quills (an assortment of pipes of different pitches), banjos, body percussions (clapping hands
and stamping feet), and the fiddle (violin). With the drum we remember that it was our form of communication and
we honor the past, celebrate the present and fearlessly reach into the future through this form of art.
Through dance we try to preserve the unique black cultural expression and enrichment of the dance heritage which is
not always portrayed in the media. Many of the movements of the dance are copied from various birds and animals
in the environment, which possess qualities admired by African people such as gracefulness, strength, intelligence
and beauty. Dance utilizes symbolic gestures, mime, props, masks, costumes, body painting, and other visual
devices. The basic movements may be simple, emphasizing the upper body, torso, or feet; or they may be complex,
involving coordination of different body parts and intricate actions such as fast rotation, ripples of the body, and
contraction and release, as well as variations in dynamics, levels, and use of space. The dance may be open to all,
or it may be an activity in which one, two, three, or four individuals take turns dancing in a ring. What you will see
through the Jodama performances are their own unique blend of varying sounds and percussions coupled with the
oral traditions of dance expressions that are still maintained by a few Africans today.
To promote more history enriched African/African American entertainment through drum and dance. To dispel any negative myths and
stereotypes that have been carried down through the years.and present how traditional African perspectives have been shaped, beliefs
and behaviors have been formed, and to bring to the forefront the many positive and distinct contributions that have been overlooked.
We believe that in doing this, every individual will not only increase their character building skills, but will expand their appreciation for not
only African culture, but others as well.
To enlighten, enrich and entertain