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Bruckins Dance: A Traditional Dance

brukins dancersThe word ‘bruckins’ also spelt 'brukins' according to author of the book, ‘Jamaica Talk’ which means a ‘break-down’, a ‘Negro dance.’ In this context however, it seemed to have the meaning of break or interlude, and from what could be seen it was a type of dance planned for the entertainment of an audience.

History of Brukins

 

Bruckins is another Jamaican traditional dance that came to the public’s eye in Kingston at the Festival of Arts in 1966. Prior to this time, this dance was mainly seen in Manchioneal and surrounding areas, or outside the village of Kensington in Eastern Portland, where the dancers lived.

The Bruckins dance is actually a shortened version of what is known as the Brukins Party. Without a doubt, it is a dance for experts rather than a general group and it appears to be very old.

Music for the Brukins dance

 

In the Buckins dance the dancers are in couples, with each couple belonging to a red or blue set. There was a Red King and Queen and a Blue King and Queen.

The Women:

The women wore low-heeled shoes and red or blue gowns of satin or silk material. They also carried swords too, of the appropriate color.

The Men:

The men are attired respectively, in red or blue shirts, with ribbons across the chest, and each wore a sword decorated with red and blue paper.

Both men (kings) and women (queens) wore crowns of gold or silver paper on their heads. The dancers were usually people well on in years, even up to 80 years old.

The Bruckins Dance

In a typical Bruckins traditional dance, one couple at a time enters the floor, makes a promenade, and went off again. Then they return and each couple will dance facing the others in turn. The main movement consists of a long gliding step, with the body bent alternately backward or forward. One foot is then placed forward as the body is leaned backward and the other foot was closed to the first as the body bent slightly forward. The man then holds the lady’s left hand in his right as they move forward together, side by side, with this step. The man then turns his partner by moving backward himself, as she is being directed forward. The couple then makes a bow to the audience, each crossing the left foot in order to recover the balance by placing it beside the other one. A variation would be made when a couple moved sideways with the basic step. Sometimes partners would face each other, and, keeping their feet still, would move the shoulders, swinging the swords gracefully across the bodies. When all have dance together, they often form a diagonal line of couples alternately facing, with the men bending far back as in the pose of the ‘Limbo’ dance.

Reference: JLS