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Wed, 02.11.1914

Charles ‘Cookie’ Cook Tap Dancer born

*Charles 'Cookie' Cook was born on this date in 1914. He was a Black tap dancer. Charles Cook was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was the dance partner of Ernest "Brownie" Brown, whom he performed from the days of vaudeville into the 1960s.

They performed in a film with Dorothy Dandridge 1942 "soundie" Cow Cow Boogie, on Broadway in 1948 musical Kiss Me, Kate, twice at the Newport Jazz Festival, and other acts, including "Garbage " His Two Cans" in which they played the garbage cans.

On December 5, 1949, Cook and Brown became founding members of the Original Copasetics, a fraternity of tap dancers and musical artists dedicated to preserving the memory of the great Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. The club's motto was "Everything's Copasetic"-- the Bojangles expression for fine, okay, grand. The Copasetics remained a vital social force in the Harlem community, with boat cruises, annual balls, and charitable performances, in a period in which the world had turned its back on tap dancing and turned its attention to ballet and modern dance on the Broadway stage. Brown, continued to perform.

On Broadway, Cook and Brown performed as specialty dancers in the 1952 revival of Kiss Me Kate, choreographed by Hanya Holm. Performing in the musical for seven years, they stopped the show with their routine to "Too Darn Hot." In 1963, Cook was one of the dancers (along with Cholly Atkins, Ernest Brown, Honi Coles, Chuck Green, and Pete Nugent) performing at the Newport Jazz Festival's Old Time Hoofers. In the 1970s, after his performing partner retired, Cookie continued as a solo performer. The tap renaissance that began early in the decade revitalized his career.

He taught master classes in New York City, performed at major dance festivals, and lectured about the golden age of tap dance. He also formed a longtime partnership with Jane Goldberg and her Changing Times Tap Dance Company, and in 1978 presented the lecture demonstration It's About Time. He later created Fancy Feet for the Smithsonian and was the subject of Cookie's Harlem, an exhibit on his life.

He continued performing as a guest artist and as a solo dancer, passing on his rhythms to his students, gracefully assuming the role of mentor of one of tap's most difficult and enjoyable genres, comedy tap. Charles Cookie Cook died in New York City on August 8, 1991.

To Become a Dancer and Choreographer

Reference:

Memor.LOC.gov

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