Under the leadership of Chester Whitmore, The Central Avenue Dance Ensemble was created to promote “American Vernacular dances of the 20th Century”; dances that include Leonard Reed’s Shim Sham Shimmy, the Shorty George, The Charleston, the Lindy Hope and others.

“We aim to show the connections between dance forms from generation to generation and their connection to music and cabaret; to show how American vernacular dances were influenced by African dance and were shaped by spirituality and slavery (liturgical dance) as well as were molded by rhythm and music (tap dance and Salsa). We aim to express the infectious healing qualities of dance, to educate audiences and to spread the joy of dance.” – Central Avenue Dance Ensemble website.

The Central Avenue Dance Ensemble will be presenting The Best of the History of Black Dance in America (HBDA) as a live Zoom webinar on February 25, 2021 at 11:00 am. Recordings of the show will be available to all ticket purchases until February 28th. HBDA is a retrospective of 10 years of HBDA performances hosted by internationally renowned tap dancer and dance historian, Chester Whitmore.

Here is how HBDA describes the event:

“The History of Black Dance in America (HBDA) is a multimedia dance show which explores the 200 year history of African-American Vernacular Jazz Dance in America. The show was performed by the Central Avenue Dance Ensemble (named after the historic African-American section of Los Angeles) live on-stage from 2011 until 2020. Many of these shows were videotaped with camcorders in the theaters, sometimes by paid staff, sometimes by random members of the audience.

The Best of HBDA is a retrospective of selections from these recordings — the most popular, the most memorable and the sentimental favorites. The show is a unique combination of education and entertainment, the first of its kind for this particular subject. This retrospective will be hosted by the renowned tap dancer and dance historian, Chester Whitmore. He will give you a little perspective on the histories of the dances you will see re-created. He will also conduct a short Q&A at the end of the video screenings. He will be joined in this session by HBDA Producer, Director, Writer and Narrator, Ron Parker.

During its run, HBDA was known for its vibrant, colorful costumes and vintage, era-specific look and feel. You can see that on display in this video: The History of Black Dance in America Photo Montage . In late 2020, there was a devastating fire at the facility where all the props, costumes, etc. were stored and everything was destroyed. This event is also part of a fund raising effort to replace many of those costumes and props for future shows.

Please join this family-friendly trip down memory lane, the histories of this historic, groundbreaking show as well as that of American Black Dance History — that is, the dances popularly danced by Americans over the past 200 years that were created or influenced by African slaves and their descendants.”

To purchase tickets, click HERE.

To read past reviews of the show, click HERE.

  • Note that this is an on-demand event and your ticket purchase allows you to view the recording for up to 3 days after the initial live streaming.

Important note: If you purchase multiple tickets, you MUST enter the Name and Email address of each separate attendee. Otherwise, the additional attendee(s) will not be able to log in to the event.

Compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Feature Image courtesy of History of Black Dance in America.