• Deconstructing ideas of race and gender
•Were the highest-paid act on the Negro Vaudeville Circuit, Theater Owner Booking Association (Toby)
•One of the longest surviving touring companies (1899-1942).
•Built stars as Jenny LeGon , Bill Robinson , Ether Waters, Pops and Louis , Count Basie , Mary Lou Williams…
•Employed and worked with more than 120 artists
•They would have anywhere from 20 to 30 performers in the show had six to eight programs running at any one time and always did a Shake Dance to Diga-diga-do
Anna Pennington (December 23, 1893 – November 4, 1971) was an American actress, dancer, and singer who starred on Broadway in the 1910s and 1920s
She became famous for what was, at the time, called a “Shake and Quiver Dancer”
Louise Cook, nicknamed “Jota” or “Snake Hips,” was an exotic dancer in Harlem who appeared in Oscar Micheaux’s breakthrough 1931 film “The Exile.
Gertrude “Baby” Banks
Nikki O’Daniel was a popular nightclub dancer in Harlem in the 1940’s, she danced at the most popular nightclubs and in stage musicals. She also was a popular dancer in the first black soundies (music videos) appearing in close to 20. She’s probably best remembered as the original Caldonia, a big hit for Louis Jordan, who he sung the hit song to while Nikki sat on a piano in the popular soundie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR6pHtiNT_k
Nora “The Quivering Torso”
Bessie Dudley (Margaretta Clemens) Florence Hill
Bessie Dudley was considered one of the greatest tap and snake dancers during her time. Dudley traveled as Duke Ellington’s companion when he sailed the Atlantic in 1933. Ellington had a fear of the ship going down. The two would stay up late at night playing cards and talk to dawn.
By the age of 18, Dudley was opening for Earl “Snake Hips” Tucker. One famous story is that Tucker once wasn’t at the club on time, so Dudley hopped on stage and performed his routine in his absence, to a tee.
Florence Hill was a dancer in the 1930s. She danced at the famous Cotton Club in Harlem.