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Bruckins in Jamaica

In Jamaica, Brukins has become associated with celebrations to mark Emancipation, granted to enslaved Africans on the 1st August 1834. The dance is a complex series of movements and sections which is staged begins late at night. The dancers move gradually through a community, adorned in elaborate costumes representing the characters of the British royal court, until morning. There are two groups involved in the Brukins “party” one in red and the other in blue. The dancers represent Kings, Queens, Princes, Captains, Soldiers, Trainbearers and others. There is a contest between the groups and various movements are employed as one side seeks to perform much more elaborate movements or ‘out dance’ the other.

The dance is very long and is punctuated by a series of songs and a Tea-Time, which allows the dancers sufficient time to rest. Usually the songs do not make much sense, but are part of the gimmickry and revelry associated with the contest. During the Tea-Time, ‘bidding’ takes place to raise money for the community. Here, a member of the audience is paid to perform and if it is deemed to be satisfactory then the audience would have to bid for a repeat performance. There is also bidding done for the naming of the ‘Bread’ and the Queen.

The dance movements are derived from the Pavanne, a European court dance of the 15th and 16th centuries which the Europeans adopted from the Italians. This was taken to the Caribbean and observed by the enslaved Africans. True to the notion of creolization, the Africans, added a pronounced slanting of the body, instead of the upright stance as performed by the Europeans.

Today Bruckins can only be found in Portland. The Bruckins dance is no longer performed during Emancipation, but is a staple at Festival competitions and at social events.

Props includes Crowns and swords
The colours used are red and blue Representing the royal court
Drums Razzling drum and bass drum

Bryan, Patrick, “August 1st A Celebration of Emancipation.” United Cooperative Printers Jamaica WI, June 1995, pp. 67-76

Carty, S. Hilary, “Folk Dances of Jamaica: An Insight.” Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 58-60

Jamaica Journal Volume 10, Number, 1, p. 8



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