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Dance Crazes

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Dance Craze: Black Roots

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

From the Charleston to the Dougie, popular dances in the U.S. are often rooted in African American social dances – some that stretch all the way back to times of slavery. Professional dancer, writer and historian Thomas DeFrantz joins us to talk about the echoes of black history evident in 20th century dance crazes. 

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Dance Craze: The Jitterbug

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The word's roots go back to the early 20th century slang for alcoholics who suffered from tremors - but the "jitterbug" truly caught hold when bandleader Cab Calloway starred in the short film "Cab Calloway's Jitterbug Party" in 1935. Since then, the term has been associated with dances like Lindy Hop and swing - and even developed into its own dance craze. Today, we look back at the acrobatic moves of the 1930s and ‘40s with Chris Calloway Brooks - grandson of Cab Calloway and leader of the modern-day Cab Calloway Orchestra.

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Dance Craze: Dancing on Air

Monday, April 30, 2012

Longtime TV host Dick Clark’s death last month reminded many of the Twist - perhaps the most notable of the many dance crazes (from The Stroll to The Watusi) that were sparked by American Bandstand’s shimmying teenagers. But Bandstand was just one of many dance floor-driven shows on the air in the latter-20th century – and in fact, there are still a few around today. We examine television’s important role in dance fads with Jake Austen, author of “TV-a-Go-Go” and founder (and co-host) of Chicago’s public access all-ages dance show, “Chic-a-Go-Go.”

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Dance Craze: Everybody Do The Twist Now

Monday, April 30, 2012

We kick off our series on dance crazes with a half-century look back at the Twist – a simple dance floor move that came to represent so much more. Dance historian and Florida State University dance professor Sally Sommer joins us to examine the many cultural implications of the hip-shaking phenomenon.

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