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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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(Turn of the Century)

(p.20) 2 Buck-and-Wing
Tap Dancing America

Constance Valis Hill

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a dramatic account of a buck dance challenge between Bill (“Bojangles”) Robinson and Harry Swinton at Brooklyn’s Bijou Theatre, on March 30, 1900, and describes such early percussive dance forms as buck, buck-and-wing, Lancashire clog hornpipe, and ragtime stepping at the turn of the century. Progenitors of Afro-Irish styles of buck–and-wing dancing include Bill Robinson, Harry Swinton, Lotta Crabtree, Katie Carter, King Rastus Brown, Billy Lynch, Nellie DeVeau, George and Josephine Cohan, Barney Fagan, Ned Wayburn, and Bert Williams, as well as George and Ada Overton Walker, whose supreme style of ragtime stepping informed the “class act” stepping of Charles Johnson and Dora Dean, who insisted on the absolute perfection of sound, step, and manner.

Keywords:   buck-and-wing, ragtime stepping, Afro-Irish, Bill Robinson, King Rastus Brown, George M. Cohan, Ned Wayburn, Williams and Walker, Ada Overton Walker

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