A dance concert of African and African-American inspired social dances popularly danced in the United States from the 1800s to today. www.HistoryOfBlackDance.org
From Zulu to Lindy Hop with the Cakewalk, Black Bottom, Shim Sham and more historic dances in between — they’ll all be on exuberant display in this multimedia live performance by the Central Avenue Dance Ensemble. Accompanied by narrated video, this two-hour retrospective takes audiences through the rich and varied history of African and African-American inspired social dances popularly danced in the United States from the slavery era to today. It even includes post-swing era styles from shows like “Soul Train” and offers a glimpse at today’s urban club dances such as Detroit Ballroom and Chicago-style Step. This production played to sold-out audiences last year and now returns with even more history: Spirituals, Charleston, Kizomba, tributes to Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat King Cole.
The goal of the History of Black Dance in America is to educate the general public on the history of these dances in an exciting and entertaining way. This is a very important national work because while many of these dances are recognized as an integral part of American history and culture, very few Americans have ever seen them danced live, and fewer still actually know the history. For example, while many people may have heard of the Cake Walk, few have ever actually seen it danced, and fewer still realize that it began as a plantation dance danced by slaves to mimic high society Whites. The dance was so amusing that plantation owners held competitions, and the winning slaves would receive cake as their prize. Thus the name “Cake Walk”. Also, while there is debate as to whether it was Harry Fox or Vernon Castle who introduced the “Foxtrot” dance, there is no debate that the man who arranged the Foxtrots for the Castles (who ultimately popularized the dance in the United States) was James Reese Europe, a Black American and World War I veteran.