THDA 463 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Coffee Preparation, Circle Dance, Sherman H. Dudley

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September 21, 2015
Chapter 3
Road shows, vaudeville, TOBA
Sophisticated indoor shows
oTom Shows
Uncle Tom’s cabin
oPlant Shows
Stories of plantations
oTab Shows
Tabloid shows, shortened versions of Vaudeville Shows
In Old Kentucky
oInfamous show in 1900
oFlimsy plot
Horse racing
oAt intermission, they would open up the stage for an open dance contest
Willy Covan was one of the most memorable intermission performers
Entered In Old Kentucky in 1915
Carried off by audience on their shoulders
Flare & style to movement
Early buck and wing (tapdancing) and acrobatic dance
oCoffee grinder
The Smart Set
oPrimarily black performers
oThere was a chorus line
oErnest Hogan, Ton Macintosh, and Sherman Dudley helped develop tap dance
Ernest Hogan
Key player in the transition of performers from Minstrelsy to
Published song “All Coons Look Alike to Me” and started an act
that followed minstrelsy stereotypes
Leading role in The Clorindy
The most popular African American entertainer of his time
Coined the term “Ragtime”
Sherman Dudley
Started career in Minstrel shows
Part of The Dudley Georgia Minstrels
He wrote The Smart Set
Started animal acts with a nodding mule
General manager and treasurer of Colored Actors’ Union
Created a business out of the “Dudley Circuit” enabling black
entertainers to secure longer term contracts for an extended season
oBasis for the Theater Owners Bookers Association (TOBA)
“Tough On Black Asses”
3 shows nightly
About 35 performers per company
More successful than and outlasted Vaudeville
1929: 80 theatres in the circuit; 1932: TOBA is dead
1930 he retired when film became popular, sold all of his theatres
The Whitman Sisters
oIn the TOBA circuit
oThe “Greatest Incubator of African American talent”
oStarted in 1900 and went until 1943
oRecruited young talent
oMabel (book keeper), Alberta (wrote music, act as a man), Essie (costume,
comedienne), and Alice (tap)
oTheir father taught the girls basic dance steps for exercise
Father disowned them due to religious beliefs
oMabel and Essie raised money through church benefits to form an act and rent a
oAlberta known for flash/eccentric dance
oAlice known as the Queen of Tap
oAll had fair skin and wore blonde wigs
oAfter their mother passed away, they became business savvy
Hired Pickaninnys
AA children between the ages of 6 and 12 to pad the talent in their
oFastest paced show on the circuit
oWhen films began, they adapted their show to be performed before, after, and
during the intermission of films
Williams and Walker
o“Two Real Coons” = fame and fortune
oDancing the Cakewalk
Harlem Renaissance
oAfrican Americans could express art how they wanted in Harlem
oDarktown Follies (1910)
It introduced the second African American dance to sweep the country
called Ballin’ the Jack (Snake hip like dance performed in chain)
Other dances like the Texas Tommy (the precursor to the Lindy) and The
Circle dance were introduced
The show would widen the gap even further from Minstrelsy
Blackface was dropped
A plot was introduced
First time ever seeing a love scene between 2 African Americans on stage
oShuffle Along (1921)
The soft shoe
Buck and wing (tap)
Acrobatic dance
Eccentric dance
oThe stage was set for an explosion of culture
Population of 200,000 in 1930
White Vaudeville
o4 types
Comic Eccentric dancer (Marland Dixon and Ray Bolger)
Acrobatic dancer (Legomania)
Pseudo classical toe acts (Adelaide and Hughes)
oChorus girls become all the rage
John Tiller
The Tiller Method
oOpened a school
oHired women
oChoreographed 2 to 3 stage dances
oRented the chorus line to shows
Ned Wayburn
Wrote a 19 volume book “The Art of Stage Dancing”
Categorized women
Tallest and prettiest
oPeaches and Chickens
Specialty acts
The work horses