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Sat, 05.12.1900

The Cakewalk, a Black Expression Through Dance

Poster, 1896

*The Cakewalk is celebrated on this dates Registry.  This is a couples dance originated by Blacks in America c 1840.

The Cakewalk became a popular stage act for expert dancers as well as a craze in fashionable ballrooms at the turn of the twentieth century.  Couples formed a square with the men on the inside and, stepping high to a lively tune, strutted around the square. The couples were eliminated one by one by several judges, who considered the elegant bearing of the men, the grace of the women, and the creativity of the dancers; the last remaining pair was presented with a highly decorated cake.

The cakewalk originated in the Antebellum South among Black slaves.  Often in the company of their masters, used the dance as a subtle satire on the elegance of white ballroom dances.  It contributed to the evolution of later American and European dances based on jazz culture, rhythms, and that musical influence on the growth of ragtime.

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