Little Johnny Brown
Description:This circle dance/game has been passed down through generations of African Americans living on the islands off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. The movements include folding blankets, choosing partners, loping like a buzzard, and creating movements that partners mimic. The video segment opens with instructor Paula Larke explaining the symbolism of the dance and some of its movements. Then she teaches Little Johnny Brown to a group of teenagers and young adults. The segment ends with Dancing Threads host Anndrena Belcher explaining how the dance was passed down.
- Watch the video for ideas on how to teach this traditional dance.
- Show the video to students to help them learn the dance or its cultural significance.
- Show or teach the dance to enrich the classroom study of African-American culture and, by extension, to encourage in-depth study of a particular culture: that of the Georgia Sea Islands. (Go Rabbit from Program 13 of the KET series Old Music for New Ears is an example of music from the same area.)
- Show to compare dance styles of diverse cultures.
- Show with other circle dances from the toolkit (Punchinella, Ciranda, and Seven Jumps) and have students compare the dances.
Lesson plans using this resource:
- Cultural and Historical Meaning (1-5)
Students perform a folk dance and discuss its cultural and historical meanings.
- Locomotor/Non-Locomotor Movements (4-5)
Students perform a folk dance and learn about locomotor and non-locomotor movements.
Dance and Community Values (6-8)
Students perform a folk dance and learn about its cultural and historical meaning.
- Dancing with a Purpose (6-8)
Students will perform the folk dance “Little Johnny Brown” and discuss its historical and cultural meanings.
- Creating a Contemporary Ritual Dance (9-12)
Students view and discuss the dance Little Johnny Brown and then create a dance signifying a contemporary ritual.
For more information:
(These links may leave the Arts Toolkit.)
See the Dance and Culture section of the Dance Arts Toolkit binder.
About Dancing Threads: