African-American Dancers


There have been many great African-American dancers; I am just scratching the surface here, just mentioning the ones who most captured my attention.

Throughout my childhood, Sammy Davis, Jr. was frequently on television. As a member of the Rat Pack, he was a frequent guest on variety shows, specials, and late night talk shows.

Alvin Ailey was one of the most famous choreographers of modern dance. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and its school express the African-American experience through dance. Here is vintage footage of one of his pieces.

Gregory and Maurice Hines grew up performing tap dance routines together in night clubs. Then they danced together in Broadway musicals, and eventually in movies such as The Cotton Club and Eubie. A generation of children remember them from appearances on Sesame Street. When Gregory passed away in 2003, Maurice continued to perform. Here he talks about their partnership:

Nobody danced like Michael Jackson (though everybody tried). I could have done without the crotch-grabbing, but I admire his precision of movement. And the magic of the moonwalk. And can anyone forget “Thriller”?

Misty Copeland has the distinction of being the first African-American principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater. The video that follows is a clip from a documentary about her life.

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