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African American History of Dance

The history of African American dance is colorful and varied. Not only have we created some of the most popular dances, but we have excelled in ballet and modern dance.

Slave Dance Traditions
Dance and music were an integral part of African life. They were associated with religion, birth and death, weddings and other ceremonies. Dance brought communities together. These traditions were carried on by African Americans in slavery.
Jazz Dancing
The 1920s, known as the “Jazz Age”, featured jazz dancing. Black dancers were gainfully employed during the years between 1921 and 1939. They were dancing in musicals on and off Broadway and abroad. Exclusive clubs in Harlem that catered to rich whites, such as the Cotton Club, had floor shows that featured Black entertainers.
African American Concert Dancing: The Beginning
African American/Black dancers faced problems with stereotyping when they entered the artof concert dance.

African American History of Dance