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William Henry Lane created American tap dance from blending African rhythms and Irish jig and reel!

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There’s so many types of dances. Can you count them all? I mean

every single one. I love to dance freestyle to Rihanna’s music.

I swear she have some of the best remixes and original songs

I’ve ever heard. Her music inspires me to dance the days away.

Enough about that. The reason I’m writing is to tell the story of

a Black man who is influential in the creation of American

tap dance.

Lane developed a unique way of using his body as a

musical instrument, combining African derived syncopated

rhythms with movements of the Irish jig and reel. He was free

born in Providence, Rhode Island around 1825. Lane started

to learn the Irish jig and reel from Uncle Jim Lowe, a dance

hall and saloon performer in New York City, New York.

By the age of ten, Lane was performing in Paradise Square

in the Five Points District of New York, where a heavy concentration

of African AMerican and Irish populations were side by side. The

vernacular dance forms of both of these ethnic group intermingled,

providing Lane opportunity to get the different rhythmic and movement

foundations that facilitated the development of his style of dance.

Lance has an original use of different areas of his feet to

create rhythms, keep time, and  improvise complex syncopated

rhythms. This was revolutionary for the 1840s. He used his heels

to make the deeper tones of the bass drum, and balls of his feet to

layer, softer higher sounds. And to keep with his African oral traditions,

Lane included singing and laughter into his performances. This

added another layer to his rhythmic creations.
 

  The combining of the rhythm, footwork, improvisation

and vocals, Lane formed a blended style of African dance and British

Isles folk dance still seen today. Students studying tap in the

21st century can give credit to the styles they learn from Lane.

This man I must say is like a human instrument. What a way to stand out!

I just had to give this man credit. He is better than ordinary, he is

extraordinary. We need more people like him. By the way, did you know

dancers and choreographers make 16.85 per hour according to the
bureau of labor statisitics? (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-
sports/dancers-and-choreographers.htm)

http://www.blackpast.org/aah/lane-william-henry-master-juba-1825-c-1852

 

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