1-20 of 58 results  for:

  • Results with images only x
Clear all

Article

Aaron Myers

During the 1960s and 1970s, influenced by the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the United States and nationalist movements in Africa, Afro-Brazilians experienced a surge in black pride. This heightened black consciousness was also prompted by denouncements of racism and praises to “Mother Africa” heard in Jamaican Reggae, increasingly popular in Brazil during the 1970s. As a result, black Brazilians, especially those in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Salvador, reaffirmed their connection with Africa and became more vocal about problems facing their community, particularly racial discrimination. This process was accelerated by the abertura (opening)—the gradual return to democratic rule that began in 1979 and loosened restrictions on free speech. In Salvador, this newfound black pride reinvigorated the old and waning afoxés and gave birth to a new type of black Carnival organization, the bloco Afro.

Afoxés emerged in the late ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Alvin Ailey was born in Rogers, Texas. He grew up in a single-parent household headed by his mother, Lula Elizabeth Cooper. As a boy, he helped her pick cotton. In 1942 they moved to Los Angeles, California, where she found employment in the World War II aircraft industry. Ailey attended George Washington Carver Junior High School and Jefferson High School, primarily black schools. He went on to study literature at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Ailey's dancing career started in 1949 when a high school friend, Carmen DeLavallade, introduced him to Lester Horton, his first dance instructor at the Lester Horton Dance Theater. When Horton died in 1953, Ailey became the director of the company. The following year, Ailey moved to New York City where he joined DeLavallade in the Broadway dance production House of Flowers While appearing in other stage ...

Article

Lili Cockerille Livingston

actor, dancer, and choreographer, was born in Rogers, Texas, the son of Alvin Ailey, a laborer, and Lula Elizabeth Cliff, a cotton picker and domestic. Before Ailey was a year old, his father abandoned the family, leaving them homeless for close to six years. During that time Ailey and his mother made their way, often by foot, across the unforgiving terrain of the impoverished and bitterly racist Brazos Valley in southeastern Texas to seek shelter with relatives and find work in nearby fields.A bright curious child Ailey joined his mother in the cotton fields as soon as he could carry a sack He reveled in the sights and sounds of the gospel choirs and worshipers that he witnessed in the black Baptist churches of his youth Ailey also became acquainted with the less pious side of life through those who spent Saturday nights dancing ...

Article

Kathleen Thompson

Ambitious, talented Debbie Allen has broken ground for black women in a variety of roles, primarily behind the scenes of the entertainment industry—directing, producing, writing, and choreographing television shows, films, and musical theater.

Debbie Allen was born into a remarkable family in Houston, Texas. Her father, Andrew Allen, was a dentist, and her mother, Vivian Ayers Allen, is a poet who has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her sister, Phylicia Rashad, is a well-known actor, and one of her brothers is Andrew “Tex” Allen, a jazz musician.

Allen decided early that she wanted to be a dancer She began her training when she was three and by the time she was eight she had decided to go into musical theater When she tried to enroll in the school of the Houston Foundation for Ballet she was rejected for reasons her mother considered discriminatory As a ...

Article

Jacqueline M. Jones

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, founded in 1958 by Alvin Ailey, is an internationally renowned modern dance company emphasizing Western and Afrocentric concert dance. Ailey was born in Rogers, Texas, in 1931. While attending the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), he received formal training in the Lester Horton technique, which was inspired by Horton's knowledge of the cultures of Native Americans, Asians, and the African diaspora. The Horton company stressed theatrical components, including storytelling, music, and stage design. After Horton's death in 1953, Ailey served as artistic director until 1954, when he moved to New York City to study dance with Charles Weidman, Hanya Holm, Martha Graham, and Doris Humphrey. In March 1958 Ailey formed his own company Over the years the company has enjoyed financial support from many sources including the U S Department of State and ...

Article

Robert W. Logan

Bailey graced the worlds of movies, television, musical theater, nightclubs, and recordings with a dazzling smile, an engaging personality, and the sense that she was communicating personally with each individual member of her audience. An entertainer who methodically worked her way up the show business ladder, she was unassuming and unpretentious, but nevertheless a star whose charismatic presence illuminated stages and screens for more than fifty years.

Pearl Mae Bailey was born in Newport News, Virginia, to Joseph James and Ella Mae Bailey. Her father was a revivalist minister, and at the age of three she was already dancing and singing in his church. When she was four, the family moved to Washington, DC. When her parents separated, Bailey, the youngest of four children, stayed with her father, but eventually she joined her mother and siblings in Philadelphia, where her mother had remarried.

Bailey attended William Penn High ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

For many people, Josephine Baker's name will always evoke a well-known, controversial image: the “Black Venus” naked onstage, except for a string of bananas around her waist, dancing to African drums before her white Parisian audiences. It was this image that first made Baker a star, one whose international fame lasted for five decades. But the picture of the exotic dancer does not fully capture the complexity of the woman who was one of the first black performers to transcend race and appeal to audiences of all colors around the world.

Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Freda Josephine MacDonald the name Baker came from her second husband Her parents were not married her father was a drummer in a local band and her mother a washerwoman rarely had enough money to support Baker and her three younger half siblings At age eight Baker began working as ...

Article

Karen C. Dalton

dancer, singer, and entertainer, was born in the slums of East St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Eddie Carson, a drummer, who abandoned Baker and her mother after the birth of a second child, and of Carrie McDonald, a onetime entertainer who supported what became a family of four by doing laundry. Poverty, dislocation, and mistreatment permeated Baker's childhood. By the age of eight she was earning her keep and contributing to the family's support by doing domestic labor. By the time Baker was fourteen, she had left home and its discord and drudgery; mastered such popular dances as the Mess Around and the Itch, which sprang up in the black urban centers of the day; briefly married Willie Wells and then divorced him and begun her career in the theater She left East St Louis behind and traveled with the Dixie Steppers on ...

Article

Kariamu Welsh

Josephine Baker was the first and greatest black dancer to emerge in the genre now called “performance art.” She epitomized through dance what freedom of expression and artistic expression really meant for generations of artists worldwide. Baker was one of the few artists in the world who were acclaimed and awarded for being themselves. Her genius resided in her conception of music, dance, and comedy; she had a musician’s sense of timing, a dancer’s instinct for cutting a phrase, and a comedian’s ability to deliver a punch line even when it was in a song or gesture. Not merely an entertainer, Baker was in every sense of the word an artist, and it was as an artist that she made her mark on the world.

Baker was also a humanitarian who in her own unique and eccentric way tried to live by example She symbolized beauty elegance grace and most ...

Article

Asli Tekinay

singer and dancer. Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald in a poor black neighborhood in Saint Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Carrie MacDonald, was twenty-one years old at the time and worked as a laundry woman. Her father, Eddie Carson a vaudeville drummer left his wife a year after Josephine was born Josephine thus grew up fatherless and in poverty When she was eight years old her mother hired her out to a white woman as a maid From then on Josephine was on her own in life An ambitious and optimistic child she learned to dance in the back streets of Saint Louis She went to the zoo watched kangaroos camels and giraffes and imitated their movements She wanted to be a great dancer and live a glamorous life At the age of twelve she dropped out of school and at thirteen her professional life began ...

Article

A young African American dancer named Josephine Baker and her act, La Revue Nègre (The Negro Revue), took Paris by storm in 1925. Baker described their effect in these words: “When the rage was in New York of colored people, Mr. Siegfied of Ziegfied Follies said: ‘It's getting darker and darker on old Broadway.’ Since La Revue Nègre came to Gai Paree, I'll say, ‘It's getting darker and darker in Paris.’”

Article

Eric Bennett

Break dancing developed out of the Bronx, New York, disco scene. When disco DJs changed records, dancers would fill the resulting musical breaks, or “breakbeats,” with movements that emphasized the pause in rhythmic continuity. These highly acrobatic interludes developed into a new genre that mixed Afrodiasporic dance styles, reflecting the influence of the lindy-hop, the Charleston, The Cakewalk, and the jitterbug as well as the Afro-Brazilian martial-arts dance Capoeira and the antics of Kung Fu movies.

Break dancing included “breaking” (flipping, spinning, pivoting on the head and hands), “up-rock” (a mock-combat style, often directed against an opponent), and “webbo” (fast footwork between other dance moves). When break dancing spread to Los Angeles, California dancers added the electric boogie automaton like dance moves that incorporated pantomime In the beginning break dancers adopted a confrontational attitude as crews met each other in fake rumbles that often turned into real ...

Article

Freda Scott Giles

dancer, singer, entertainer, and actor, was born John William Sublett in Louisville, Kentucky. His parents’ names are not known. His early childhood was spent in Indianapolis, Indiana, where his family was part of a touring carnival; by the age of seven, John was performing on the stage, participating in amateur contests as a singer. Accounts differ as to when he returned to Louisville and when he met his vaudeville team partner, Ford Lee “Buck” Washington. Some sources list their ages as ten and six, respectively, while others list them as thirteen and nine. The team began working professionally by 1915 as “Buck and Bubbles,” an act combining music and comedy.

They would remain together for nearly forty years originally combining Washington s talents as a pianist with Sublett s as a singer when his voice changed Sublett turned to tap dancing as his primary talent As they developed their act ...

Article

Robert Fay

Ford Lee “Buck” Washington and John Williams “Bubbles” Sublett teamed up in 1912 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Bubbles, then ten years old, sang and danced, while Buck, who was six, accompanied on piano. After winning several amateur contests, they played professional engagements (often in blackface) in Louisville, Kentucky; Detroit, Michigan; and New York City.

Bubbles developed a style of Tap Dance called jazz tap. Before Bubbles, performers danced on their toes and emphasized flash steps—athletic steps with extended leg and body movements. Bubbles changed this style by tapping with his heels and toes and developing complicated moves, such as double over-the-tops (a rough figure eight that simulates tripping).

Audiences delighted in the team's singing, dancing, and comedy routine, with Buck's variations in tempo that forced Bubbles to quickly adapt. By 1922 they had performed at New York s Palace Theatre the nation s top vaudeville venue They ...

Article

Eric Bennett

As a product of black folk culture, the cakewalk remains obscure in origin. Perhaps of African origin, it developed on plantations sometime before the American Civil War (1861–1865), as slaves imitated the Grand March that concluded the cotillions and fancy balls given by whites. Although plantation owners often mistook the dance for childlike play, the cakewalk in fact had a satirical purpose. Promenading in pairs, dancers crossed their arms, arched their backs, threw back their heads, and strutted with exaggerated kicks. The cakewalk took its name from the cake that was awarded—by the judgment of a boisterous audience—to the couple with the most flair.

In the 1880s and 1890s, white black-faced minstrels often ended stage shows with the cakewalk, or “peregrination for the pastry.” Thus whites imitated blacks imitating whites—a cultural curiosity that only grew more complex when African Americans began imitating white Minstrelsy.

With the advent ...

Article

The festivals known as Carnival are public celebrations of European origin that have been profoundly transformed by diverse New World African cultures throughout the Americas. Although Carnival is celebrated in many Latin American and Caribbean cities, this description will focus on four different Carnivals: two in Brazil, one in Rio de Janeiro and the other in Salvador, Bahia; one in the Caribbean, in Port of Spain, Trinidad; and one in the United States, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Article

William Dejong-Lambert

singer and performer, was born Ernest Evans in Spring Gulley, Williamsburg County, South Carolina, one of three sons of a struggling tobacco farmer. The family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when he was nine; there he attended Settlement Music School. He formed his first singing group at age eleven. Evans attended South Philadelphia High School, also the alma mater of teen pop idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian, and worked at a produce market where his boss gave him the nickname “Chubby.” He also plucked chickens at Fresh Farm Poultry, and it was there that Kal Mann, a friend of the owner and cofounder of Cameo-Parkway Records, heard him sing and recommended him to Dick Clark, the host of the television show American Bandstand. Clark had asked Mann to write a novelty song for Christmas and find someone who sounded like Fats Domino to sing it Mann wrote Jingle Bells ...

Article

Diana L. Linden

African American choreography cannot be reduced to or defined by a single “black” style; many dancers and choreographers question the meaning of such terms as “black dance” or “black choreography.” Acknowledging the many contributions made by and social barriers particular to African American artists, experienced voices within the dance community nevertheless express concern that to talk of “black” or “African American” dance or choreography is to create a lesser subset of American dance, of ballet, of modern dance, and of dance overall.

Variety of forms, inspiration from the streets or the church, and the range and engagement with music resonate throughout the work of all black choreographers. Several prominent choreographers—such as Arthur Mitchell and Pearl Primus—draw equally from European classical ballet and traditional African dance. Black choreographers find inspiration in church spirituals, the written and spoken word, and the urban “ghetto” and hip hop.

Yet within this multigenerational heterogeneous group ...

Article

Therese Duzinkiewicz Baker

prima ballerina, modern dancer, choreographer, teacher, and painter, was born Janet Fay Collins in New Orleans, the daughter of Ernest Lee Collins, a tailor, and Alma de Lavallade (the noted dancer Carmen de Lavallade was a first cousin on this side of the family), a seamstress. At the age of four Collins moved to Los Angeles with her family, which included three sisters and one brother. In Los Angeles, Collins had trouble being accepted into “whites-only” dance studios, so she worked with private tutors. Her first formal ballet lessons were at a Catholic community center at the age of ten.

When she was fifteen Collins auditioned for the prestigious Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo led by the legendary Leonide Massine Collins was accepted but only on the condition that she stay in the corps de ballet and that she paint her face white to blend in with the other ...

Article

Aaron Myers

The Cotton Club was one of Harlem's premier nightclubs, renowned for its superb Jazz music and the exotic routines of its female dancers. The club was also a constant reminder of the reality of Segregation in the North as well as the South. Although its performers and waiters were all African Americans and it was located for many years in the heart of Harlem, the Cotton Club had a whites-only policy, and it only hired female dancers who were light-skinned and who emulated white standards of beauty.

The Cotton Club had its beginnings in 1920, when the controversial African American boxing champion John Arthur (Jack) Johnson opened the Club Deluxe on Lenox Avenue and 142nd Street in Harlem. Johnson sold the club to white gangster Owney Madden, who reopened it in the fall of 1923 as the Cotton Club Under Madden the Cotton Club s floorshows ...