2 3 Throwback Thursday and Moonwalk | Ballet Webb

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Throwback Thursday and Moonwalk

Throwback Thursday and Moonwalk

Bill Bailey was the first person known to have recorded the step that Michael Jackson made famous more recently: the “Moonwalk”. Bailey called it the “Backslide”. He was born on December 8, 1912, the son of James and Ella Mae Bailey. Later his younger sister Pearl Bailey, was born. He began dancing in the church his father pastored. 

Bill Bailey is believed to have studied with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and King Rastus Brown, and he soon began performing professionally, sometimes with Cab Calloway’s sister, Blanche Calloway. His fame increased in the 1940s when he appeared in the movie “Cabin in the Sky”, dancing in the kitchen scene. He went on to appear in many other movies from the 1930s to the 1950s.

He performed in nightclubs, on Broadway, and was featured more than once on The Ed Sullivan Show.  He was a headliner at The Apollo, where he was wildly popular. Later, when “An Evening at the Apollo” became a television series, he appeared eight times – in the first season.

In 1965 he retired and became pastor of a Harlem church, and he continued to preach until his death on December 12, 1978.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #106:  
“Bill Bailey was a famous tap dancer who is said to have performed the first “moonwalk”.

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Quote of the Day:
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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