Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Biography Returns to Print

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.

Written by the late black history writer Jim Haskins and N.R. Mitgang, Mr. Bojangles includes interviews with people who knew Robinson, plus information from his scrapbooks and personal writing. It is available in print and on the Kindle from Amazon.
Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

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