Multi-Ethnic Roots of America's Folk Dance-"Clogging"
Active Audience Participation
We make memories
Dueling Shoes is offering an exciting one hour performing arts educational program for elementary schools, 4th grade, entitled
"American Folk Roots: The 5-String Banjo and Clogging"
Comments and Reactions from Teachers for Past Shows
"We were absolutely delighted with the performance. The children received lots of history in a short time period with fun, interactive music and interesting instruments. We hope to invite you back next year for the rising fourth graders!" Karin Oliver, PTA Cultural Arts Chairman, Easley Elementary, Durham, NC
"Outstanding story-told at the level of students' understanding. In addition, you added character education. Great job of engaging and managing with signals. This fits North Carolina history so well. It is a great integration of social studies, character ed, music and folklore." Barbara Gustafson, 4th grade lead teacher, Turner Creek Elementary, Apex, NC
"I think it was a fantastic program! If only my professor in college had taught N.C. History the way you did! I really enjoyed the way it all came together at the end, with each person's story connecting like it did. Most movies aren't as good as that! Plus, the children were enthused. The different music and dancing served to keep their interest peaked. Not to mention the chances they had to participate. Well done!" Sarah McDaniel, 3rd grade teacher, St. Ann Catholic School, Fayetteville, NC
"You did a great job of explaining concepts and history of the legend. Excellent scenary-loved your seat and how you explained hand slaps. I think the students really enjoyed seeing the culture and music. Great job on using rattles with students. Explained and practiced the quiet signal very well. Excellent participation by having kids repeat the words. I know all 4th grade students should see this show as it ties the curriculum into a live performance. If they love to sing, dance, clap and have fun they are sure to love this. Students will go home with the beat in their head." Wanda Hanley, 4th grade teacher, Turner Creek Elementary, Apex, NC
"Mr. Levitt's demonstrations were great. He had the student's full attention at all times. It was wonderful the way he incorporated singing, dancing, history and story telling." D. Humphries, 5th grade teacher, Eastover-Central Elementary, Fayetteville, NC
"Don't change anything, it was great!" Jorge, 5th grader, Baileywick Elementary School, Raleigh, NC
"I can really see how this is a great program that touches on a lot of the geography and movement of people in and around NC. It also gives great information as to the culture of the South as it was influenced by Europe! It crosses into the music curriculum too, which is wonderful, reinforcing tempo, the beat and the emotion music can evoke. I love how the whole story culminates with the 4 kids blending their steps! Great lessons in character and life. It shows how so many cultures blend together to form one. This program hits on the movement of people to the Americas through such a cool story! I love how it integrates music, maps, geography all at the students' level. 10! The kids really seemed to enjoy the music and stories and participation. It has really kept their interest and engaged them in the learning. Great job! Mr. Levitt seems to really have a good handle on keeping the interest of students. This wonderful program brings in a lot of wonderful stories to help students learn about cultures that influenced NC and America. It uses wonderful story-telling and music!" Amanda MacLachlan, 5th grade teacher, Turner Creek Elementary, Apex, NC
"All that was said was very useful to introduce NC history from the 4th grade curriculum. My students are now excited and very eager to learn our Social Studies objectives. Everything was presented in a very interesting manner. Your story was very logical and included very important facts and details. They enjoyed it and learned things from the past that they will use in the future. This program was filled with 4th grade objectives. Also, it was taught using a variety of strategies and all 3 modalities for learning. My students loved your program and were sad to see it end. The students loved participating by singing the songs and answering questions. They were completely engaged. Your management was superb! I would recommend this to any school. As a teacher, I appreciated the way in which you told the story of clogging. I learned a lot through you. Thanks." Lisa Fleming, 4th grade teacher, Turner Creek Elementary, Apex, NC
"The program strongly correlated with 4th grade social studies curriculum. It creates a good background for 3rd graders and review for 5th graders. American culture has been influenced by so many different cultures. This was a nice way to show kids how 3 distinctly different cultures came together to create something new and unique." "The program was a great way to introduce students to odd/atypical musical instruments. I was even surprised at what can be used to make music." "The students overwhelmingly liked the program. They liked the stories about the 3 people, but most of all they loved all the different instruments and the sounds they made." "I loved how the program tied together the 3 different cultures/people and tied them together as the roots for American culture in NC. The folk songs and dance heightened the experience." Joni Millsap, 3rd grade teaching assistant, Adams Year-Round Elementary, Cary, NC
"Great Show. The kids were very involved and engaged. Thanks so much!" Amanda Dyer, 5th grade teacher, Pitts School Road Elementary, Concord, NC
"The students really enjoyed the program. It was very entertaining and informative. Everyone learned something new, even the teachers! The students were amazed at the dancing, fiddle playing and the many different instruments used to create music. The program was very worthwhile and the students couldn't wait to check out Mr. Levitt's book from the library! Fun for Everyone!
Karen Mathieson, 4th grade teacher, Wesley Chapel Elem, Monroe, NC
"Mr. Levitt's performance kept the students engaged and provided an entertaining and educational experience for them. His story-telling and musical talents were enjoyed by all." Brenda Kasell, Assisant Principal, Wesley Chapel Elementary School, Monroe, NC
"Mr. Levitt made history come alive! Mr. Levitt gave us all wonderfully motivating and interesting history lessons through his use of music, movement, song and story-telling. He is a fine artist, and one I would recommend for all elementary and middle school students. Mr. Levitt took us on an exciting trip from Europe and Africa to America to help our students understand how our country developed and the cultural influences brought to us from Europe and Africa." Arlene Saper, Spanish Teacher, Mary Scroggs Elementary School, Chapel Hill, NC
"Steve has obviously done his homework and used his vivid imagination to craft a wonderful story full of music, dance and history." Alice Zincone, Art Teacher, Governor Morehead School, Raleigh, NC
"Steve, You did a great job of weaving a tale for students. You incorporated where clogging originated and why. The instruments, dance and audience interaction was very engaging. I highly recommend your program to other schools and truly appreciate the seriousness and professionalism you present for your craft." Becky Norkus, Physical Education Specialist, Baileywick Elementary School, Raleigh, NC
"This was an entertaining and engaging presentation that taught students about the history of our official state dance and the history of immigration in North Carolina as well. Students were introduced to intriguing instruments and everyone in the audience got to participate. I wholeheartedly recommend it to other schools." Jill Stansburg, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School, Morrisville, NC
"Storytelling has been of utmost importance for mankind since the beginning of time: to keep score of history, for socializing and entertainment, but most importantly for understanding oneself as a human! Unfortunately, storytelling is an art form in decline. I was thrilled by Mr. Levitt's professional performance and so was my son (age 9). It was a complex story, well kept together and therefore easy to follow along - with exquisite intermissions of music, song, rhythm and dance. The intermission pieces were also a genuine part of the story being told. Mr. Levitt has a wonderful, infectious energy with compassion and integrity. Thank you!" Anneli Leander, Parent, Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School, Morrisville, NC
"Steve Levitt presented an interesting and interactive program for our students. His storytelling abilities are phenomenal. I would love to have Mr. Levitt back to our school to share more of his music and storytelling abilities." Melanie Varvi, 4th Grade Teacher, Ashley Elementary School, Fayetteville, NC
This two part program is a fun, high energy, fast paced interactive educational program and portrayal of the West African roots and evolution of the American banjo and multi-ethnic roots of America's folk dance-Southern Appalachian Clogging.
Part 1 The Banjo- begins by introducing the students to what is now recognized as a living ancestor and grandfather of the banjo, the West African Jola Akonting. Audience participation uses rhythm, clapping, stepping, call and response and singing combined with storytelling to teach the history, geography and cultural journey of the Akonting and how it came to America and influenced the development and playing style of the present day banjo. It teaches about the original home of the Akonting in West Africa, slavery and the Middle Passage, Southern plantation life, and incorporates audience participation with songs and stories from both West Africa and the plantation South.
Part 2 Clogging- uses storytelling, audience participation, folk instruments and dance to present the multi-ethnic cultural roots of North Carolina and of the Southern Appalachian percussive dance "clogging,” chosen by the NC General Assembly to be the official folk dance of North Carolina. This interactive music/dance performance utilizes folk instruments, songs, rhythms and dance elements representing different cultures that came together in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. It exposes the students to Native American, West African, European and North Carolina geography, history and culture.
General Program Topics
Geography-North Carolina, U.S., Africa/West Africa and Western Europe
Jola people of the Casamance Region, West Africa (Senegal, The Gambia).
The West African Jola Akonting-banjo grandfather
African Slave Trade- ‘Middle Passage’
American Slavery-plantation South
Pre-Colonial North Carolina
Cherokees and ‘Trail of Tears’
Emigration from Europe to America
The Scots-Irish & Irish Potato Blight
The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road-Migration South & North Carolina History
Multi-Ethnic Roots of Southern Appalachian Dance
Folk Instruments, Music, Dance and Rhythm
The overall, highly creative and engaging, program is mainly focused on 4th grade curriculum learning goals. It utilizes audience participation including singing, clapping, stepping, hand rhythms and repetition along with percussive and other folk instruments, dance and storytelling designed to engage and focus the students on the educational objectives.
Elements of North Carolina, U.S., European and African geography are incorporated using large representational maps.
The students are exposed to Native American, West African, European (Irish, English), American and North Carolina historical events, culture, music, song, and elements of rhythm/dance. The program emphasizes the importance of honoring one’s roots.
A short interactive (Question/Answer) session is included after the performance to answer questions and provide follow-up. This is always very helpful both to the students and their teachers.
The program's creator and solo performer, Steve Levitt, has extensive experience as an educational performing artist in North Carolina schools.
Steve is a former member of:
Artists in Schools Program (AIS) sponsored by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County
Artists in Schools Program, Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County
CAPS PERFORMING ARTIST (Creative Arts in Public and Private Schools), sponsored by the Durham Arts Council, Durham, NC
Steve, as a former member and currently active alumnus of The Apple Chill Cloggers of Chapel Hill, N.C. has choreographed and performed across North Carolina and abroad in Belgium, Italy, France, Mexico and Germany.
Steve, as the co-founder and choreographer/artistic director of the percussive dance ensemble Dueling Shoes, has performed across North Carolina in festivals, corporate events, benefits and more.
This performing arts program is also the basis of two books that will be donated to the school library:
A young reader’s historical fiction book "Journey to the Mountain-A Roots Tale" by Steve Levitt about the multi-ethnic roots of Southern Appalachian culture and its dance, clogging.
“The Akonting: Banjo Ancestor” by Steve Levitt an illustrated rhyming narrative about the historical roots of the banjo beginning with the West African Jola Akonting and tracing its history and development to the present time.
Steve is currently offering this educational performance to 4th grade elementary school assemblies. Maximum audience size is 100. Performance length is 60 minutes including a short question & answer session with students at the conclusion of the program.
Some Past School Performances
Saint Ann Catholic School, Fayetteville, NC
Easley Elementary School, Durham, NC
Adams Year Round Elementary School, Cary, NC
Ballentine Elementary School, Fuquay-Varina, NC
Turner Creek Year Round Elementary School, Apex, NC
Parkwood Elementary School, Durham, NC
Eastover-Central Elementary School, Fayetteville, NC
Pitts School Road Elementary School, Concord, NC
Wesley Hall Elementary School, Monroe, NC
Mini Summer Arts Camp, Durham Arts Council, Durham, NC
Cultural Arts Festival, Sponsored by United Arts of Raleigh and
Wake County, Raleigh, NC
Mary Scroggs Elementary School, Chapel Hill, NC
Governor Morehead School, Raleigh, NC
Baileywick Elementary School, Raleigh, NC
Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School, Morrisville, NC
Salem Elementary School, Apex, NC
Ashley Elementary School, Fayetteville, NC
Forestville Road Elementary School, Knightdale, NC
Hope Valley Elementary School, Durham, NC
An extensive Study Guide for teachers, that includes a wide variety of additional learning resources, and information for the school newsletter are sent to the school in advance to enhance student participation during the program.
Instruments used: 5-String Banjo, West African Akonting, Bird Bone Flute, Native American style Drum, Harmonica, Rhythm Bones, Fiddle, Hambone, Spoons, Jaw Harp, West African drum, Jaw Bone & Percussive Dance.
Music/Rhythm Concepts: the ‘beat,’ syncopation (‘off the beat’) and tempo (speed of music).
Music, Song or Call and Response (Instrument):
‘Cripple Creek’ (Banjo)
‘Africa chant’ (clapping/stepping)
‘The Akonting’ (call and response)
‘Mary Madu’ Jola song (Akonting)
‘Old Bill Rolling Pin’ plantation song (Akonting)
‘Take Your Hands to Hambone School’ (hambone)
‘Old Dan Tucker‘ (hambone)
‘Flat foot dance’ demo (percussive dance)
Flute Music (bird bone flute)
Drum beat (Native American style drum)
‘Danny Boy’ (harmonica)
‘Lazy Sailor’ sea shanty (Rhythm Bones)
‘Arkansas Traveler’ (fiddle)
‘Soldier’s Joy’ (jaw harp)
‘‘Carolina Gals’ (wooden spoons)
‘Cotton Eye Joe’ (fiddle and percussive dance).
Note: some of the songs have original verses.
Dance: selected elements of Native American, Irish and African dance steps and rhythm; demonstration of clogging and flatfoot dancing.
For more information or to book a performance contact Steve Levitt at
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