Initially released in 1988, Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson was well-reviewed but fell out of print, relegated to collectors’ shelves. Now, the full-length biography of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson has been re-released, and teachers and dance history buffs can once again get their hands on the story of the legendary tapper.
Robinson (1878–1949) was known for breaking racial boundaries and setting a precedent for black dancers with his successful career in vaudeville, Broadway and film productions. He starred in movies with Shirley Temple, the Nicholas Brothers and more, often showing off his signature “stair dance.” Robinson was also instrumental in developing an on-your-toes tapping style, instead of the flat-footed shuffling favored by dancers before him.
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This Sunday, master ballet teacher Finis Jhung turns 80. After a career as a soloist for both San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey and a principal for Harkness Ballet, Jhung carved out a unique place for himself as a ballet teacher in New York City. He's coached the boys of Billy Elliot: The Musical, developed a popular video and DVD how-to series and STILL teaches seven classes a week at the Ailey Extension. He's graced the pages of this magazine to offer his time-honored wisdom again and again, and he's currently working on a memoir. (We can't wait to read it.) Happy birthday, Finis!
Since 1989, tap dancers have been celebrating National Tap Dance Day (NTDD) on and around May 25, the birthday of tap dance legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. This year, prime events are happening in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.
When you think of a major basketball team's dancers or cheerleaders, you probably picture the Laker Girls—scantily clad, with shiny curls cascading down their backs. You definitely don't picture a group of 15 40-years-old-and-up "seniors," mean-mugging and ripping off breakaway pants. But the New York Liberty's Timeless Torches do exactly that, and they routinely bring down the house during halftime at the WNBA games where they perform.
The exhibit Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972 is filled with exhibits, performances and conferences honoring the three postmodern dance living legends.