2 3 Throwback Thursday and The Charleston | Ballet Webb

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Throwback Thursday and The Charleston

Throwback Thursday and The Charleston

It is believed that The Charleston originated in black communities near coastal Charleston, South Carolina – hence the name.

The Charleston had been performed in African American groups since 1903, but the dance didn’t become wildly popular until 1923 when it was featured in the Broadway musical Running Wild. The dance was accompanied by a song called “The Charleston” composed by James P. Johnson.

The Charleston became extremely popular in the 1920s, often performed by Flappers.  Flappers were unconventional young women who threw away restrictive clothing like corsets and pantaloons and danced in a lightened- up wardrobe that changed the face of fashion forever. They also gradually raised their hemlines to better allow for the energetic movements The Charleston required. (Sounds a lot like what happened to the evolution of the tutu in classical ballet.) Needless to say, this was all considered scandalous at the time, and The Charleston was banned from many dance halls.

The Charleston is danced to ragtime jazz music in a quick 4/4 time. It can be danced as a solo, with a partner, or in a group.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #60:  
The Charleston is believed to have originated in black communities near the coast of Charleston, S.C.

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-          Aalaynah Thompson

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