The Charleston Essay

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The Charleston may have a long history. The Branle of 1520 is presumed to be very similar to the Charleston. As far as an African-American influence, most dance historians summarize that the "Ash-Ante (Ashanti) Peoples" of Africa to be the originator. On the other hand, there are descriptions and pictures to a dance in the Harper's Weekly Magazine (October 13th. 1866) that is very similar to the Charleston (which was most likely the Branle). Nevertheless, the Charleston dance became established during the Ragtime-Jazz period. The series of steps are thought to have originated with the African-Americans who were living on a small island near Charleston, South Carolina. Some say it is from the Cape Verde Islands in Western Africa. The Charleston was performed as early as 1903 in the Southern States. As time went on it was being used as a regular cotillion step and finally made its way, as we know it today, into Harlem stage productions by 1913 says James P. Johnson. Henry “Rubber legs" Williams says it was the first dance he won a contest in the mid-teens. The show called “Shuffle Along” also had some Charleston dancing, but not yet recognized as such, they were just referred as the fastest dancers ever seen or a Colored Cast Revue. It was introduced to the theater going public at the New Amsterdam Theater in New York when the "Ziegfeld Follies," staged a dance act that featured the Charleston. Ned Wayburn was the choreographer, and Sizzle and Blake introduced a young African-American boy to Wayburn. The boy demonstrated what was to be the signature step of the Charleston. Wayburn supposedly choreographed a few more steps and Sissle and Blake wrote the songs ... it was an immediate hit. In that same year a stage play by the name of "Liza" had introduced the dance done by Rufus Greenlee and Maude Russell but went un-noticed. And yet again on October 29th, 1923 with

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