Black Dance in London, 1730–1850

Innovation, Tradition and Resistance


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About the Book

The survival of African cultural traditions in the New World has long been a subject of academic study and controversy, particularly traditions of dance, music, and song. Yet the dance culture of blacks in London, where a growing black community carried on the newly creolized dance traditions of their Caribbean ancestors, has been largely neglected.
This study begins by examining the importance of dance in African culture and analyzing how African dance took root in the Caribbean, even as slaves learned and adapted European dance forms. It then looks at how these dance traditions were transplanted and transformed once again, this time in mid–eighteenth century London. Finally it analyzes how the London black community used the quadrille and other dances to establish a unified self-identity, to reinforce their group dynamic, and to critique the oppressive white society in which they found themselves.

About the Author(s)

Historian and award-winning dance filmmaker Rodreguez King-Dorset, is a former researcher in performing arts at the University of Cambridge’s Centre of African Studies. Currently, he is a visiting professor of ethnomusicology at the Global Institute in London.

Bibliographic Details

Rodreguez King-Dorset
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 204
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3850-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9204-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. Body, Kinesthetics and Dance Theory      3

2. The Origins of African Dance and European Dance and the Dance Traditions They Established      35

3. “Savages with No Knowledge of Their Ancestry” Examples of African Dance Survivals During and After the Atlantic Crossing      82

4. The Importance of Dance for the Black Community in London and Its Growth and Development in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries      103

5. Interpreting the Visual Representation of Black Dance in London During the Nineteenth Century      126

Conclusion      157

Chapter Notes      161

Bibliography      179

Index      191

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommended”—Choice; “a welcome addition, usefully outlining the essentials of a subject where much still remains hazy…analysis is both rigorous and sympathetic”—Times Literary Supplement (London).