The Cakewalk, a Black expression through dance


Dancers in the 1890's
Date: 
Sat, 1900-05-12

*The Cakewalk is celebrated on this dates Registry. This is a couple dance originated by Blacks in North America around 1900.

The Cakewalk became a popular stage act for expert dancers as well as a craze in fashionable ballrooms at the turn of the twentieth century. Couples formed a square with the men on the inside and, stepping high to a lively tune, strutted around the square. The couples were eliminated one by one by several judges, who considered the elegant bearing of the men, the grace of the women, and the creativity of the dancers; the last remaining pair was presented with a highly decorated cake.

The cakewalk originated among American Black slaves who, often in the company of their masters, used the dance as a subtle satire on the elegance of white ballroom dances. It contributed to the evolution of later American and European dances based on jazz culture, rhythms, and that musical influence on the growth of ragtime.

Reference:
Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History
Volume 1, ISBN #0-02-897345-3, Pg 175
Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, Cornel West

To Become a Dancer

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