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Tap Dancing AmericaA Cultural History$
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Constance Valis Hill

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195390827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390827.001.0001

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Trickster Gods and Rapparees

Trickster Gods and Rapparees


(p.1) 1 Trickster Gods and Rapparees
Tap Dancing America

Constance Valis Hill

Oxford University Press

A jigging competition between two young men near the village of Frogmore, South Carolina, in 1951, asks how the jig, an Irish folk dance, became associated with a “Negro” style of dancing, and was even used as an offensive epithet for Negro This chapter investigates the origins of tap dance in America and its complex intercultural fusions, which occurred through the interaction of Irish servants and enslaved West Africans in the Caribbean during the 1600s, African American folk and Irish American laborers in the South during the 1700s, and African American freemen and Irish Americans in northern cities in the 1800s. It was through this musical and social exchange, with its steady pattern of imitation, assimilation, and the transformation of such percussive step dances as the jig, gioube, buck-and-wing, and juba, that tap dance evolved in America. Afro-Irish oral traditions—verbal swordplay of satire, wit, one-upsmanship—also motivated tap’s fusions

Keywords:   jig, gioube, juba, buck-and-wing, imitation, assimilation, percussive, Afro-Irish

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