American Dance: The Complete Illustrated History

by Margaret Fuhrer

Voyageur Press; 288 pages; $45

Legendary dancers and choreographers like Fred Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Martha Graham jump off the pages of this beautiful coffee-table book on the history of American dance, by Dance Spirit editor in chief Margaret Fuhrer.

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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.

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