Book Review: African-American Arts Dance

The history of dance makes a riveting statment over the years and even crosses a continent. Beautiful photography brings to life the art and struggle of a people.

Title: African-American Arts Dance
Author: Angela Shelf Medearis and Michael R. Medearis
Photography: Various Archives
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd.
ISBN: 0805044817


Dance, for most of us, is an expression of joy and freedom. The history of African dance has gone from the celebratory style of religious rituals in the country of Burkina Faso to the forced slave ship dancing, black face and vaudeville on to juke joints, theatrical ballet and finally to the big screen. Although the joy of dance among African Americans has had a rough but bittersweet history, it was a rewarding experience for most as the wonder of the dance has enlightened and educated those who embraced it.

Angela Shelf Medearis and Michael R. Medearis share the history of African-American Arts in “Dance.” This wonderful guide introduces readers to those people who worked hard to show that dance has meaning and their achievements were fought with grace, beauty and a resilience that has carried on through the generations. Readers will get a sense of the triumphs as well as the tribulations of the culture and rituals of a black nation with regards to dance.

Beautiful photography representing the vibrant history can be found throughout the pages. There are so many wonderful contributions from dancers like Alvin Ailey, Kathryn Dunham, Josephine Baker, Gregory Hines and Bo Jangles and others that we have admired over the years. These dancers are represented along with their history and accomplishments.