A cheerful dance form, tap dancing actually culminated from repressive laws that forbade African slaves from playing drums or native instruments. Nonetheless, they chose a less ostentatious form of expression that modified and fused with Lancashire Clog and Irish jig, and later continued to embrace changes under the clout of Jazz. Tap dancing came to the stage in the middle of 19th century through vaudeville shows where white men would blacken their faces, and perform on their interpreted versions of African-American dance form.
Since then, tap dancing has evolved and has had many legends associated with it.
Below are some of the most famous tap dancers of all time. Best Tap Dancers of All Time. Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson.
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Share This. Famous Dancers. Types of Dances and Different Dancing Styles. History of Jazz Dance. African Dance Types. Cool Dance Moves. Facts about Mexican Folk Dancing. Mexican Dances. His catchphrase, "Everything's copacetic," reinforced Robinson's sunny disposition.
Although he worked regularly as an actor, Robinson was best known for his tap-dance routines. He pioneered a new form of tap, shifting from a flat-footed style to a light, swinging style that focused on elegant footwork. Robinson's fame withstood the decline of African-American revues. He starred in 14 Hollywood motion pictures, many of them musicals, and played multiple roles opposite the child star Shirley Temple.
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Despite his fame, Robinson was not able to transcend the narrow range of stereotypical roles written for black actors at the time. By accepting these roles, Robinson was able to maintain steady employment and remain in the public eye. In , at the age of 61, he performed in The Hot Mikado , a jazz-inspired interpretation of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta. Robinson celebrated his 61st birthday publicly by dancing down 61 blocks of Broadway.
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Robinson was married three times. His marriage to Lena Chase ended in He married his second wife, Fannie S.
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Clay, in Clay served as her husband's manager and assisted him in founding the Negro Actors Guild of America, which advocated for the rights of African-American performers. Clay and Robinson divorced in In , he married Elaine Plaines. Robinson and Plaines were together until Robinson's death in Bill Robinson was involved in baseball as well as theater. Despite earning millions during his lifetime, Robinson died poor in , at the age of Much of his wealth went to charities in Harlem and beyond before his death.
Robinson's funeral, arranged by longtime friend and television host Ed Sullivan, was held at the th Infantry Regiment Armory and attended by thousands, including many stars from the entertainment industry.
A eulogy by Adam Clayton Powell Sr. Robinson remained a well-known figure after his death, particularly in dance circles. Additionally, a public park in Harlem bears Robinson's name—a way of honoring his charity contributions and participation in the neighborhood's civic life. We strive for accuracy and fairness.
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