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Tap Overload has brought tap dance to J K Rowling’s magical Harry Potter world!
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (May 25, 1878 – November 25, 1949) was an American tap dancer and actor, the best known and most highly paid African American entertainer in the first half of the twentieth century. His long career mirrored changes in American entertainment tastes and technology, starting in the age of minstrel shows, moving to vaudeville, Broadway, the recording industry, Hollywood radio, and television. According to dance critic Marshall Stearns, “Robinson’s contribution to tap dance is exact and specific. He brought it up on its toes, dancing upright and swinging,” giving tap a “…hitherto-unknown lightness and presence.” His signature routine was the stair dance, in which Robinson would tap up and down a set of stairs in a rhythmically complex sequence of steps, a routine that he unsuccessfully attempted to patent.
A popular figure in both the black and white entertainment worlds of his era, he is best known today for his dancing with Shirley Temple in a series of films during the 1930s, and for starring in the musical Stormy Weather (1943), loosely based on Robinson’s own life, and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Robinson used his popularity to challenge and overcome numerous racial barriers, becoming:
- one of the first minstrel and vaudeville performers to appear without the use of blackface makeup
- one of the earliest African American performers to go solo, overcoming vaudeville’s two colored rule
- a headliner in one of the first African-American Broadway show, Blackbirds of 1928
- the first African American to appear in a Hollywood film in an interracial dance team (with Temple in The Little Colonel),
- the first African American to headline a mixed-race Broadway production
During his lifetime and afterwards, Robinson also came under heavy criticism for his participation in and tacit acceptance of racial stereotypes of the era, with critics calling him an Uncle Tom figure. Robinson deeply resented such criticism, and his biographers suggested that critics were at best incomplete in making such a characterization, especially given his efforts to overcome the racial prejudice of his era. In his public life Robinson led efforts to:
- persuade the Dallas police department to hire its first African American policemen
- lobby President Roosevelt during World War II for more equitable treatment of African American soldiers
- stage the first integrated public event in Miami, a fundraiser which, with the permission of the mayor, was attended by both black and white city residents
Despite being the highest-paid black performer of the era, Robinson died penniless in 1949, and his funeral was paid for by longtime friend Ed Sullivan. Robinson is remembered for the support he gave to fellow performers, including Fred Astaire, Lena Horne, Jesse Owens, and the Nicholas brothers. Both Sammy Davis, Jr. and Ann Miller credit him as a teacher and mentor, and Miller credits him with having “changed the course of my life.” Gregory Hines produced and starred in a biographical movie about Robinson for which he won the NAACP Best actor Award. In 1989, the U.S. Congress designated May 25, Robinson’s birthday, as National Tap Dance Day.
Happy birthday to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Happy National Tap Dance Day!!
Tap & Jazz Signature Moves feat. Zach, Valerie, and Jessica
Performed by: Sean Jones and Luke Pilalis
Choreographers: Sean Jones and Luke Pilalis
From: America’s Got Talent, Season 9, Episode 9x09, “Quarterfinals” (2014)
I will never understand this shows use of backup dancers but…I didn’t know there were tap dancers this year!!
Falling Slowly - Andrew Prashad - Adv Tap Class
So good. I wish the music was louder!
If you have never taken class from Derick Grant, get on that.
I couldn’t stop staring
Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies - Roar
I meant to post this weeks ago!! Please forgive me! I love these ladies.
And they’re tapping on rock formations and I’m a geologist so <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Michelle Dorrance is a monster. I love her physicality when she dances. She is pushing the boundaries of tap with her company Dorrance Dance…. Bahh I cant…
Check out her talk at Jacobs Pillow too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DG_L4Huatk
Yo, DailyTapVideos posts tap videos everyday! Follow and we will send you kisses and love.
All those extra sounds she makes are perfect!