Students from the UNC Charlotte Department of Dance will perform at McLeod Plantation Historic Site in Charleston, S.C., on April 28. Presented by James Island Arts and supported by the South Carolina Humanities Council, the students will participate in a program on ring shouts and praise houses, two examples of cultural traditions rooted in the West African cultures of people captured and sold into slavery.
Under the direction of Assistant Professor of Dance Tamara Williams, the students will perform Re-Discovering Cycles, a work inspired by three types of dances from the African Diaspora: Palo, an Afro-Cuban warrior dance; Trinidadian circle dances; and Gullah Geechee Ring Shouts. This performance will be held outdoors on the grounds of McLeod Plantation Historic Site, a location important to Gullah Geechee history and culture on James Island.
Professor Williams researches the spiritual dances of the African Diaspora, and in particular the African-based ring shout traditions created by enslaved people in the Carolinas and Georgia. In an effort to preserve the original movement and gestures of the African Diaspora tradition, Williams is creating a formulated dance technique that highlights authentic movements of ring shout stemming from the Yoruba, Angola, and Akan cultures of West Africa. She teaches a course called “Reconstructing Ring Shout Traditions,” in which UNC Charlotte dance majors are able to learn ring shout movement vocabulary and its influence in American social and popular dances.