Africans brought as slaves to North America arrived without possessions, but not without culture. The fascinating elements of African life manifested themselves richly in the New World, and among the most lasting and influential of these was the art of African dance.
This generously illustrated exploration of African American dance history follows the dynamics of the dance forms throughout each generation. Chapter 1 provides introductory information about the African continent and the heritage that spawned African American dance. Following is a discussion of the discrimination and marginalization endured by African Americans, and the fortitude with which the dance survived and became increasingly important in American culture. Chapters 2 and 3 explore black dance in the slavery era and the variety of black festivals and gatherings that helped to preserve and showcase African-based dance throughout the nineteenth century. Remaining chapters outline ten major characteristics that have consistently marked African American dance, and describe the various styles of black vernacular dance that became popular in America—the Ring Shout, Buzzard Lope, Cakewalk, Shimmy, Charleston, Black Bottom, Big Apple, Lindy Hop, and more. Chapter 8 concludes with a discussion of African dance at the end of the twentieth century and its important role in the flowering of African American arts.