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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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Over-the-Top and In-the-Trenches

Over-the-Top and In-the-Trenches


(p.44) 3 Over-the-Top and In-the-Trenches
Tap Dancing America

Constance Valis Hill

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with the all-black production of Darktown Follies of 1913—the musical hit that popularized such tap steps as over-the-top and in-the-trenches—and the “buying” of that musical by Florenz Ziegfeld for his Ziegfeld Follies of 1914; and elaborates on the interest of whites in borrowing song and dance material from black culture. While buck-and-wing/tap dancing was slow to gain prominence on the white Broadway stage, it developed as a performance art in traveling medicine shows, carnivals, tent shows, and circuses. In the teens, tap moved onto the vaudeville stage, despite its evolution in two separate arenas, as black and white entertainers were kept apart. Heading down dual paths of development that rarely intersected, the great wave chain of black and white vaudeville created a sort of double helix that wound around the core of tap without ever joining into a single strand.

Keywords:   buck-and-wing, Darktown Follies, vaudeville, tap steps, black culture, medicine shows

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