Black Dance By Johnson, Jasmine
Black dance is both an aesthetic and historical category. When the term first appeared in the late 1960s, it referred to dance forms grounded in African Americans’ collective experience, but over time the term “black dance” has come to encompass both vernacular (social) and theatrical (stage) dance created by African-descended peoples in the United States and around the world. From the Cakewalk to the Charleston to the Lindy Hop to rock and roll dancing, twentieth-century social dances emerged first within black subcultures and then circulated broadly within dominant cultures. Over the same period, black artists commanded the international dance stage, from Bert Williams and George Walker to Josephine Baker to Katherine Dunham to Alvin Ailey. In everyday life and on the concert stage, black dance is a constitutive dimension of modernism.