When I first saw her picture I was stunned. She reminded me so much of my mother Louise Dillard who has gone on to be with the Lord.. I had to step back and take a deep breath… it’s Jeni LeGon. She is one of the greatest black female dancer from the age of black entertainment. Watching her still dance with the joy of youth is inspirational. I first saw her dance in “Hooray for Love” with Bojangles. Back in the day many black had to pioneer a way for blacks to get respect as actresses, actors, dancers, musicians,and entertainers. They dance … child they dance! Watching her dance make you want to get up and move what you got. She is one of many legendary performers that I honor for paving the way for black dancers . Watch her on this video. More info about her click here!
Many black dancers in the early days of Hollywood danced from the soul. Professional training for many meant dancing in the street for money,learning from each other, and teaching your self. Sammie Davis Jr starting dancing as a child about the age of 6. In this early clip you see all of future talents come together; dance, acting, and singing. For many black entertainers during the let 1920 and 30’s dancing was hardship in getting work in all white Hollywood. Many black filmmakers and musicians open doors for black dancers to get notice and featured. Through that joint effort some of the greatest dancers were birthed!
There were many duets of dancers back in the day. The tricks, leaps, jumps, and spins created such an expectation of black dancers that broke every rule of gravity. Many years ago I interviewed Chester Commodore, the first black cartoonist of the Chicago Defender. I will post those interview in the months to come. One of things he shared with was about a boarding house his aunt owned that housed entertainer from Vaudeville in the 1920’s and 30’s. He said that many great acts passed through her house were on the Chittlin Circuit. He met Cab Callaway, Nicholas Brothers, Fat Wallace, and Bojangels to name a few. He was fascinated with the energy and lifestyle that they had on Vaudeville. I can only imagine the excited he must have felt of watch many of those black dancers practice in the back of the house as he fetched water and food for them. Watching many of the dancers of black entertainment you see them pushing dance pass the limit just to express and entertain.
And Finally dance that well…… held it own in history. Enjoy!
And finally the Tranky Do…….