Woo! This one is a doozy for younger students, so I recommend doing this with 2nd graders at the youngest. I did this my first year of teaching with 2nd and 3rd graders and it was a bit rough. My 3rd graders were rowdy and it was too much for 2nd graders in just one class period. If you choose to do this dance, please make sure your class is safe enough because it involves a LOT of moving. Maybe even break it up over several class periods.
Click here for a link to a great recording of Alabama Gal on the New England Dancing Masters website!
Suggested Grade Levels: 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade
This is a true southern American gem. This folk dance appeared in the mid-1800s and was specifically referred to as a play-party. Many communities believed that some activities, like dancing, were too dangerous and would corrupt the morals of young people. So rather than having am immoral dance celebration, people decided it was more appropriate to come together for “play-parties” where they sang instead of playing instruments. Now people of all ages are able to participate in this enjoyable social dance.
Formation: There are 4 verses/sections of this dance.
Verse 1: “Come through in a hurry!“
Have children form two lines facing each other. The head couple (use the language “pair” or “partners” to avoid complaints/silliness) will link hands and sashay down the center of the lines and then back up to their original spots. (16 beats total)
Verse 2: “I don’t know how, how.”
Partners move forward and hook elbows for a right elbow turn (8 beats) and then switch for a left elbow turn (8 beats). By the end, they must return to their original spots. (16 beats total)
Verse 3: “I’ll show you how, how!”
The head partners cast-off and lead their line in a circle. They will stop at the original end of the line and create an arch for the rest of the partners to go under. (16 beats total)
Verse 4: “Ain’t I rock candy?”
The first set of partners to go under the arch will stop at the top of the line. Everyone else follows and recreates the lines from the beginning. The original head partners are now at the end of the line and a new head partners are leading the sashay at the front.
Repeat as many times as you’d like!
–Really good folk dance if you need your kids MOVING
–Great way to teach dance terminology (ex. sashay, cast-off/”peel the banana”, right/left elbow turn, arch, etc.)
–Song has syncopation in each verse
–Historical discussions about what used to be appropriate in dance and entertainment
–Bates, V. (2012, April 5). Alabama gal [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZpcSnlS6Cs
–Bow Tie Music. (2015, May 12). Brown Elementary 2nd grade program (3-11-15) Alabama gal [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wy5g7J4Kg4
–Brass, M. C., Davis, A. Amidon, P., & Amindon, M. A. (Ed.) (2011.) Alabama gal. GIA Publishing, Inc.
–Holy Names University. (n.d.). Alabama gal. Kodály Center: The American Folk Song Collection. https://kodaly.hnu.edu/song.cfm?id=590
–Longden, S. (n.d.). Alabama gal. Pearson Education, Inc. http://assets.pearsonschool.com/asset_mgr/pending/03_AlabamaGal_Mvt_In.pdf