Sing, Dance and Learn about Martinique

Sing, Dance and Learn about Martinique

Author: Beth Barsness
  1. Students will improve interpretive and presentational skills by:
  • Hearing and learning the song “Amélie Colbert”
  • Viewing the film Sugar Cane Alley (Rue cases nègres)
  • Answering questions about the film
  • Writing and presenting their own story sequel to the film

This unit will expose students to the music, culture, and history of Martinique.  Students will listen to a song, learn a traditional dance, and view a film.  The film, Sugar Cane Alley (Rue cases nègres), portrays native life under French colonial rules, filtered through the coming-of-age of a bright, sweetly opportunistic boy learning to reconcile the value of his shanty-town roots with the education opportunities that beckon him to the big city.  The song “Amélie Colbert”, performed by French musician Laurent Voulzy, summarizes many of the themes that are depicted in the film: standard French vs. Creole, a black woman who has a child with the son of a rich land-owner, the nostalgia of the past, and the hope for the future without racism.  Students will then write a “continuation de texte,” in which they will tell the story of what they think will happen to the characters from the film in the next 20 years.  Students will present their compositions to the class as a presentational speaking assignment.

Length of time needed: 4-5 class periods (50 minutes each)

This lesson was written by Larry Tuura.

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Lesson Plan

This lesson can be downloaded to your computer as a PDF document. If you would like to edit this document for your classroom needs, go to the "Handouts and Materials" section and click on the corresponding link.

Full Screen

Source: Larry Tuura

"Amelie Colbert"

Source: Laurent Voulzy

Benguine Dance Lesson

Source: cmaterre

Handouts and Materials

The following files can be downloaded to your computer:

Lesson Plan (Word document)


Film: Sugar Cane Alley (Rue cases nègres)

Video of “Amélie Colbert” performed by Laurent Voulzy

Lyrics of “Amélie Colbert” – a copy for each student

Video of beguine dance lesson

Source: Larry Tuura