Dance Repertoire
New Book: The Akonting: Banjo Ancestor
Music Video about Ekonting
The Akonting-Poem Performance about History of the Banjo
New School Book
School Show
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A brief description of some of our currently performed dances:


“Walk in the Park”, performed to “Briar Picker Brown.”  We often begin our shows with this four person playful and upbeat dance designed to show solo, duet and quartet dance patterns all within a single routine.  It uses a wide variety of original steps, body slapping and dancer interactions to produce interesting visual and rhythmic sequences.  Many of our dances incorporate at least one sequence of friendly competition between the dancers, and this routine is no exception.  At one point, three different and simultaneous step rhythms are used to create a rich rhythmic experience.


“Dueling Shoes", performed a cappella.  This duet was the first dance created and performed by Dueling Shoes back in 2002.  It begins with an encounter between the two dancers, who engage in a friendly duel with rhythm bones, spoons and finally dance steps.  During this routine, they either imitate or try to outdo each other.  The intent is to create a tension, albeit funny, between young and old in a dance that is designed to be both masculine and competitive yet friendly and good natured.  It contains a wide variety flatfooting and buckdancing steps.  The choreography illustrates how different rhythmic step patterns, simultaneously performed with precise timing, fit together and create interesting polyrhythmic complexities, similar to West African drum rhythms.  The dancers finally come to terms with each other with a rapid fire hambone sequence followed by a synchronous ending. 


“The Tomato Cage Dancer Square Dance”, performed to “Mississippi Sawyer” and “Walking in the Parlor”.  This very unusual routine employs four live dancers and four life-sized mannequin dancers.  The two male and two female mannequins dancers (Tom from Tennessee, Sally Ann from South Carolina, Brad from Virginia and Josie from West Virginia) are constructed from tomato cages, assorted plumbing parts, Styrofoam heads, masks, wigs and square dance clothing.  The audience always really enjoys this unique and fun original routine that is based on the elements of a traditional square dance and Virginia Reel.


“Jack and Jill”,  performed a cappella.  This is a dynamite percussive routine employing a wide variety of flatfooting, buckdancing, tap and other innovative dance steps with lots of movement across the dance floor.  Of course, the signature Dueling Shoes competition between dancers is illustrated here.  The percussive rhythms establish a real ‘groove’ and the high energy synchronous dancing sequences build to a powerful ending.


“Roots”, performed a cappella and to “Soldiers Joy”.  We honor, give thanks and pay our respects to the diverse cultures that form the roots of this living dance tradition that we call Southern Appalachian percussive dance.  With some brief narrative, this routine illustrates symbolically how rhythm elements (rhythmic legacies) from Native America, Africa and Northern Europe came together to be incorporated into the “Basic” clogging step.  Then, a traditional West African dance rhythm is performed using percussive steps to play the different drum parts.  This polyrhythm is then joined by a very old Irish and English fiddle tune to illustrate how beautifully the music and rhythms of these widely diverse cultures fit together.  The dancers break out into a freestyle display of percussive dancing and then form a line for the finale.

“Chicken Box Dance”, performed to “Cluck Old Hen.”  This comedy routine begins with two men bragging about their hens.  Their competitive natures and enthusiasm ultimately leads them to transform into the hens they are singing about.  They show off in a back and forth display of simultaneous singing, playing their instruments and dancing on their nests (wooden dance boxes).   


“Thank You Joe”, performed to “Black Annie.” A percussive dance created in 2004 in honor of and as a tribute to Mr. Joe Thompson of Mebane, NC. It contains a percussive dance step called "The Joe" created in honor of Joe Thompson. Joe Thompson was, until recently, the oldest actively performing African American old time fiddle player in North Carolina and possibly the nation. His recent passing at age 93 on February 20, 2012 represents a great loss to his family and to all who knew him and loved his music. The tune "Black Annie" was one of Joe's favorites and is played here with fiddle and banjo combined with West African drumming to produce a wonderfully rich rhythmic result intended to illustrate the roots and influences of African music in this tune as in so much of American music. The dancers, Heather Hartzog and Joan Levitt, following the African tradition pay tribute to the musicians by dancing for them, as well as for the audience. Bobb Head on banjo, Robin Brooke on fiddle, Clare-Steece Julich on djembe and Steve Levitt on sangba and kenkeni.


“You Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You Mine”, performed to “Jimmy Johnson”.  This four person routine is often used as the final dance in our show.  It is very high energy and upbeat and shows off solo, duet and quartet dance sequences.  It utilizes a wide variety of step patterns, with many innovated steps and rhythms combined in an exciting visual pattern of movements across the dance floor.  Again, a competitive or ‘dueling’ occurs between the male and female dancers.


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