For example, the ring-shout is a circular dance originally used in worship by African American slaves, which Avey witnesses as a child on Tatem and later sees reconfigured in the "Carriacou Tramp." The ring-shout is a ritual connected to African forms of song and dance, and in the Americas, it served as a way for slaves to preserve some of these traditions.
The ring-shout, as well as other spiritual rituals depicted in Praisesong for the Widow, also serves as a way of collapsing time and space.
Here, in Praisesong for the Widow, the experience of the ring-shout and the Carriacou Tramp take Avey back in time and place--not directly to Africa, but to the shared routed history of her diasporic people.
Thus anamnesis can also be used to describe the religious significance of the ring-shout ritual, which "often became a medium through which the ecstatic dancers were transformed into actual participants in historic actions: Joshua's army marching around the walls of Jericho, the children of Israel following Moses out of Egypt" (Levine 38).
Among the dance styles represented at the festival were Greek Syrtos, presented by members of the Orchesis Center for Dance and Movement in Bayridge, Brooklyn; Jewish calendrical Celebratory dances; Levantine Debkeh of Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria taught by Sheren Attal, director of the Arab American Association's Salem Debkeh youth troupe; a traditional wedding Sherpa dance from Himalayan Nepal introduced by the United Sherpa Association; Swedish children's dances by Karin and Peter Norrman of the Swedish Folkdancers of New York; American square dance led by a master caller for Brooklyn's Al'e'Mo Squares Square Dance Club; and African American ring-shout
from the Gullah Islands taught by Brooklyn dancer Angela Gittens.
In a painting of this name from 1992, a maelstrom of revolving faces dissolves the Old Time Religion practice of worship in a circle, which may echo the ring-shout
structure of Kongo.(2) But in another work with the same title, also from 1992, women raising their hands in ecstasy cite the transatlantic gesture of felicity that Bakongo term yangalala and relate to the coming of the spirit.
Johnson and James Weldon Johnson's narrator is indebted to the form of African time kept alive in the ring-shout
tradition, but is in no way reducible to it.