Roadhouse! welcomes us to a 1930s Louisiana crab shack for a set of American social dances. In this suite, city slickers join country folk for an evening where dance, music, and drink soften social and class barriers. The scene is based in part on cultural exchanges resulting from an oil boom from 1935 to 1950, when northern workers arrived in Southwest Louisiana and French-speaking Cajuns traveled to Texas. On the dance floors of honkytonks, bars, and back porches, neighbors traded steps, rhythms, and partners.
The first dance is the Cajun Jig, the Cajun one-step, a French-Canadian form with Texas swing influences. Performing the basic hobble step, like stepping on and off a curb, partners get creative with Cajun patterns, holding hands, turning and moving in concert or in opposition. We see the cuddle, the sweetheart, hammerlock, and pretzels, where partners seem to turn inside out.
Next is a couples’ dance, Comes Love, an original choreography based on the Carolina Shag, a dance evolved from African-American forms. The music is Sam H. Stept’s 1939 jazz standard Comes Love:
Comes a rainstorm, get your rubbers on your feet
Comes a snowstorm, you can get a little heat
Comes a fire, then you know just what to do
Comes love, nothing can be done
The set ends with Daisy Clog, a quick-stepping Appalachian clog dance popular in Louisiana during the 1930s. Its roots are among northern Europeans, Native Americans, and African-American buck dancing.
Becky Coulter choreographed Comes Love and Daisy Clog and staged the Cajun one-step, which was originally choreographed by Jerry Duke. The costumes are reproduced from vintage 1930s patterns and live music is played by Jubilee’s musicians on fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass, and clarinet.
Jubilee American Dance Theatre, founded in 1999 by Hilary Roberts, has been directed by Becky Coulter since 2009. The ensemble brings to life dances, music, songs, and stories of America: from Appalachia to Swing Era dance halls to Cajun Country, transporting audiences to another time and place. Jubilee is known for its authentic costumes and props from specific eras of dance and for authentic recreations of musical styles.
July 6 & 7
Dance Origin: Louisiana, US
Genre: Social Dances
Artistic Director: Becky Coulter
Choreographers: Becky Coulter, Jerry Duke
Musical Director: Joe Weed
Dancers: Mitch Allen, Lu Benson, Carol Braves, Dee Brown, Anil Comelo, Becky Coulter, Deborah Evenich, Diana Greenleaf, Jay Jackson, Brennan Kreller, Mal Mead, Dale Petros, Ellen Schwartz, James Smith, Lonnie Stevens, Ruth Suzuki, Nancy Weston, Jennifer Yuen
Musicians: Marty Kendall (upright bass, lead and harmony vocals), Suzy Mead (harmony vocals), Michael Schwartz (guitar and harmony vocals), James Tepperman (clarinet, mandolin, lead and harmony vocals), Joe Weed (fiddle)
Photo: RJ Muna