Women’s History Month: Ann Johnson!

Member of the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, Ann Johnson was seriously badass (you can see her undies – and hardcore leg muscles – here. She and her partner (Billy Williams) are the first onto the floor in the jitterbug contest section of the ‘Keep Punchin” short (at about 3.08 in this clip):

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She and her partner (Frankie Manning) are the fourth couple in the Hellzapoppin’ sequence (at about 3:59 in this clip):

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Props to Bobby White for listing all the dancers in his post on iconic dance clips. There are lots of women dancers that I really want to list, but who aren’t identified in the footage!

Edit: I’m going to try to add all the clips featuring a dancer I can find to each of these posts. Try.

“Jitterbug History” features the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers from 2.01, and Ann Johnson (with Frankie Manning) is the third couple (thanks to Bobby again for the cast list.

Women’s History Month: Katherine Dunham!

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Dunham was a dancer, but also a choreographer, and I think I want to give some concert dance choreographers of the 1920s, 30s and 40s and 50s a bit of space as well.
Dunham’s piece ‘Barrelhouse Blues’ is really interesting. I think it gives me a place to start thinking about ‘blues dancing’ performances in historical context – this piece was a response to (and incorporates) the vernacular dance of the period, rather than an ‘accurate’ ‘depiction’ of vernacular dance.
It’s the second piece in this clip, but I want to include the first piece ‘Ostrich’ because it’s so amazing, and really positions Dunham within the context of other choreographers and dancers of this period who were exploring African dance within an African American context. Also, because ‘Ostrich’ is AMAZING.


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Here’s a documentary about ‘Barrelhouse Blues’ which discusses Dunham’s work in a bit of details, plus has some footage from a 30s performance of the piece:


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And here are some Life Magazine photos of Dunham, just because.

International Women’s Day! Sugar Sullivan!

Happy International Women’s Day!
Women’s History Month: Sugar Sullivan!

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Today, a woman who particularly inspires/inspired me!

I was in this class with Sugar and Peter, and one morning early in the week Sugar self-corrected describing the leads as ‘he’ with the comment: “because these days girls lead too, and that’s alright!” I led in most of my classes that week, and she was one of the few teachers I’ve _ever_ had who’s been so encouraging of women leads.

Oh, and she was also badass that week with the First Stops routine

…and of course, years ago!.

lady dances the blues

So go here and check out some badass solo sister action. When I say ‘solo jazz’, that’s what I’m talking about. The splits stuff and the girl in white doing the tremors could be slotted into the ‘eccentric dance’ category – sort of ‘stunt dancing’.
Here’s the descriptor from the page:

Dancing outtake from Hollywood Rhythm Vol. 1: The Best of Jazz and Blues – Released 2001
Section: A Bundle of Blues (excerpt taken from approx. 7 min into the section to the end)
Stars: Duke Ellington, Ivie Anderson, Florence Hill, Bessie Dudley, Duke Ellington Orchestra
Plot Outline Duke Ellington and his orchestra play two jazz compositions plus ‘Stormy Weather’ (sung by Ivy Anderson).

Here are some stills to whet your appetite:
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